Knowing where to begin feels hard when, even on the last day, we have no idea how the month will end. Life is now dramatically different for us all, it feels scary, frustrating, uncertain, disordered…I read a quote recently that said
‘You can’t change your situation, the only thing you can change is how you choose to deal with it’
…and some with deal with the changes we need to make better than others – remember however not to judge, not to criticise, not to be angered – fear is an overwhelming feeling and none of us are perfect. We will each do, and may have already done things, that we would question a stranger on if they took the same action – we are naturally selfish, will try to take the easy path and will try to protect ourselves and our families. So in times when we hit the fear button, are thinking that awful word “should”… how about if we think…what can I do to help lower others fear, what can I do to help lower my own fear, what can I do to help others deal with adapting…what can I do to help myself adapt. The biggest thing we have to take away from all this is that we have to live differently…and living better and with compassion is surely best for us all.

March is the month of creativity, something which we can utilise in order to help ourselves adapt and change. We can take up a new skill, learn a language, draw, make music, craft…all from our own home. We can also, when and where possible, get fresh air and become nature watchers…be that in the Countryside around you, in your own garden, even just creating a space at a window so that you can open it, rest and watch the world outside. Nature is a huge healer and I feel privileged to be able to run around outside, watching the trees as blossom emerges, the hedges as leaves sprout and listen to the birds sing…and my goodness aren’t they singing! Every day they are out celebrating life, talking to each other and the sky, flying with abandon on the air with freedom and agility…but remember how small they are, how much a sudden cold night could hurt them, how many predators they have everywhere, how much they have to seek out nourishment every day and that it’s not a certain thing that they can always find it – and yet they sing…and sing…and sing…and live. Be more bird!

This month my training has followed my plan strictly, I’ve had energy I haven’t felt before, achieved speeds I hadn’t imagined I would and been able to do things I had written off at one point as impossible – on the morning of Wednesday 18th I ran a 10mile tempo run before work. I always thought it was too far, would take too long and I didn’t have time – that I would have to run it in two halves during the day. I’ve taught myself that can’t should always be can try!
This month I have supported the Alzheimer’s Society and on the evening of the 7th, took part in the Glow Walk over the Humber Bridge with a dear friend.

We had an absolutely amazing time, it was a fantastic experience and we got to raise funds together to support a wonderful charity, which in turn will help two very important people in our lives, aswell as countless others.
Some may find it odd that I chose to cut my long run short that day and use the walk to complete my mileage target of 16miles. March has seen me enter the peak of my training, when mileage increases and intensity is at it’s height. Therefore running 16miles and then doing a charity walk would, for me, have put too much strain on my body. We were just starting to hear more about coronavirus then too, and as much as running is a huge help for immunity – marathon running and training for it, can have the opposite effect during your peak weeks…purely due to the stress that training puts on your body and the depletion on your system that high intensity can cause. Recovery is king, rest is essential! Therefore I knew that doing only what was needed, keeping the pressure off and staying calm, was best.

I’ve kept to only doing speedwork or hill training once a week, keeping both my Monday and Thursday runs at heart rate zone 3 at the most, continued to pace evenly on my long runs and kept all my cross training at a low intensity. I’ve also tried to ensure I’m keeping up with doing yoga daily. On the 21st I split my 20mile long run into three stages (two runs and a walk) so that I wasn’t out running for more than three hours, wearing myself out and depleting my energy reserves any more than needed.

My mental health this month has definitely been hit more due to coronavirus and anxiety regarding it, and us and loved ones staying healthy. I work in food distribution and things have been busy but emotional, as businesses closed and colleagues had to stop working to care for themselves or vulnerable loved ones. My fiancé and I have talked, cried and hugged our way through as best we can, to comfort and support each other.
My other low this month has been a strained MCL ligament in my right leg – I’m fortunate, and grateful, not to have torn it! It didn’t go while running, but as a delayed response to that fabulous 10mile tempo run I mentioned before. I’d run on it fine the Thursday morning but at 11am when trying to get up to go to the printer at work, I could barely stand to put my weight on my leg and bending it was out of the question.
My amazing physio worked her magic the next morning, and gave me strict instructions on looking after it…including how to run on it…and managed my 20miles as planned on the Saturday after without any discomfort. Apart from a little tenderness if I sit too long, all is going well.

This months training finishes with my taper. I don’t generally get taper-trauma…I think by the start of taper I’m to the point of needing a little rest. My runs become shorter and slow, my diet has a slight carb increase, and I sleep as much as I’m able. My last long run of the month was a 10miler and felt really good…but also in the ‘over before it began’ feeling.
To end things I’ve hit the creativity button again…I never imagined having to plot my own marathon course – I had a plan B that has had to be disregarded as meant non essential travel. But I also had a plan B1 and plan B2…so we’ll see how things go over the next week regarding government advice. I can though confirm I have a deferred place on the 2021 Manchester Marathon if all else fails and total lockdown commences, I shall be immensely proud to run it in a years time.

Always go with the choice that scares you the most, as that is the one that will help you grow.

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