Day 14 of lockdown

Post synth, pre tax return!
Post synth, pre tax return!

I’ve had a couple of attempts to write a post since day 8. But to be honest, not enough has happened to write about.

It’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about. Back in April 2015 when I was ill, there was a similar lack of things going on (for other reasons) yet I managed to find something to write about. Obviously lots of things have changed since then, but oddly there are some similarities.

Reflections of 2015

For a start, I was relying on my exercise back then to moderate my mental health. This was back in the days before the causal link of  the benefits of moderate exercise on one’s mental well-being was so well publicised. At the time I presumed it was just a fix that worked for me, and I was interspersing my running with cycling to try to avoid a mechanical breakdown to accompany the mental one that had already happened.

But that was then. This time around, I’m still stuck in the house, but without the regular trips to see the psychologist to look forward to. Indeed, the 1-daily-exercise has become almost the main focus of life. Other than negotiating the weekly shop amongst a whole host of people who may or may not be infectious with coronavirus or anything else for that matter.

So since Day 8 – a week ago tomorrow, there’s been some activity each day. As I said above, it’s a focal point of the day and an excuse to try to work off some of the anxiety that the current times bring.

Day 9 – Belgium & Yoga

Day 9 was a ‘virtual day’. Well last Wednesday really did happen, but all activities undertaken occurred with technology in the forefront of it all.

A cycle around Patterberg (Belgium) during the day gave the joints a break from what has been a lot of road running of late:



This is a fairly short loop and gentle too, although it does have a timed hill section. Not that my turbo has smart controls so there is no resistance change. Yet I still seem to end up pedalling hell for leather through that section. A testament I guess to the power and benefits of this technology. Which would otherwise be me just cycling in my room staring out the window for some time. Grippingly thrilling, I don’t think.

Following this was my first virtual yoga class.Yoga over Zoom. Which seemed to go OK actually. I did yoga and Paul, the instructor was able to coordinate the group’s efforts remotely. Clever stuff indeed!

Day 10

Day 10 was back on the road although I managed to fit in some trail too. The route was made up on the fly, but essentially the reverse of an old route from my marathon training days, with 3 sections of more-recently discovered trail in for good measure. The original route was about 8ish miles and this worked out about 10 miles which was roughly what I was after.

Hazel Grove, Bramhall & Poynton

Hazel Grove, Bramhall & Poynton

There’s been a lot of discussion online about what is ‘appropriate’ in terms of time outside; distance is irrelevant really as we all run at different speeds. A lot of people seem to have come up with a 1hour figure, although I’ve still to find the source of this. Anyway, I generally tend to do 5 ish miles most days which takes 45-50 minutes so the occasional 80-90 minute runs isn’t too far away from that. Especially as my longest runs tend to be to try to get away from where other people are wandering about!

Day 11 – waiting for the trains

Day 11 was a rematch of the Norbury Hollow loop of 5 miles. I just fancied doing it again, although without any intention to push the pace as I was conscious that all runs were turning into tempo efforts rather than the gentle hour-long airing that I was actually after.

Waiting for 2 trains!

Waiting for 2 trains!

Anyway, it worked out somewhere between the two extremes, but without having to wait for 2 trains to pass in the middle!

That evening was an attempt to get the shopping I needed. To be fair I didn’t need much. But despite hitting Aldi and Sainsburys I was still without any baking stuff. And getting hand cream was a challenge too. To stop my multiply-washed hands from drying out and cracking apart which seemed to be the result so far (and not great if you’re tying to keep bugs out of you!)

Day 12 – unequal lengths and a source of flour

Day 12 started with a trip to a whole-foods shop on the other side of Stockport, being the only place in the vicinity where flour and yeast had been spotted recently. As it happens the trip wasn’t entirely successful as I could only get plain flour and they were completely out of yeast. But I came away with two containers of white powder (of the baking variety) and some very expensive eggs. But at least I had those. The yeast I tracked down online, but it was pricey.

Having insisted that I’d revert to night running, I lasted until mid-afternoon before I was lacing up my running shoes. I’ve done a couple of 5 mile routes recently, both firing out in opposite directions from home. I wondered what it would be like to run them together as a 10 mile route:

Two 5 mile loops of differing lengths!

Two 5 mile loops of differing lengths!

What I learned was that the Hazel Grove loop whilst on paper was over 5 miles, in practice was just a bit under. And the Norbury Hollow loop, which I reversed from yesterday to make it a bit more interesting, turned out to be longer than expected. Now GPS isn’t as accurate as we’d like to believe it is, but I was a bit surprised at the results. In total it worked out about 10.2 miles. So not desperate, but worth being aware of.

On a more useful note I discovered a couple of footpath signs I’d not noticed before so they were stored in the memory bank for later.

Day 13 – not going out

Day 13 I designated as a ‘not going out’ day. The weather was slated to be good and with that likely to bring out the masses onto my stomping ground, I wasn’t keen to join them As it happens the weather wasn’t as fab as forecast but I did notice a steady stream of people, dogs bikes and scooters going up and down the road.

Instead I thought it would be ‘fun’ to do a core and strength workout, followed by a virtual cycle. As it was nice the virtual bike was shoved into the back garden, much to the amusement of my neighbour, who asked where I was off to!

Canary Wharf. A lot

Canary Wharf. A lot

On Day 13 I learned that I need to do more strength workouts. OMG, it was not a great session!

The bike session was better; this time virtual cycling around Canary Wharf (London). At night. So that was a bit odd, being as I was sat in broad daylight with the sun making a brief and unusual appearance.

The loop was only just over 1km in length and the play was to do about 10 loops. Somehow I ended up doing 21 loops because that was a half-marathon distance.My logic knows no bounds!

And finally Day 14

I woke up sore and very aware of the strength workout as lots of me was aching! I almost abandoned any intention of exercise as a result.

Instead I took up residence in the office with a huge mug of coffee and poked a couple of the synthesizer apps I’ve purchased of late. There’s still no more recording having taken place, but there were plenty of pleasing (and not so pleasing) sounds emanating from the iPad.

Post synth, pre tax return!

Post synth, pre tax return!

I then remembered that it was the start of the new tax year and figured that now would be a good time to locate some of the figures I’ll need to complete the tax return in due course. Not an exciting task to do, but I might as well do it whilst I’m looking for something to be doing, rather than having to squeeze it into a less convenient time. There’s still a few figures I need from other parties, but the challenging bit has been done. Then it’s all about feeding the right numbers into the right boxes on the HMRC website and wait for the grim result of a tax bill to be delivered. What fun!

By the time I’d done this, the sun was back out in the sky and my thoughts returned to those footpath signs I’d seen. No time like the present to follow some trails. So that’s what I did.

Multiple footpaths

Multiple footpaths

The first attempt led me to a decision when the path split. So I went straight on first, and it soon became apparent that this was not a well used trail judging by the various tree obstacles and thick lining of holly bushes. In the end I popped out in a farmer’s field filled with horses and out via a stile bringing up out near my favourite local telecoms mast.

I figured I might as well get back down to the road and pick up the second trail option. So I did.

It turns out that this is an even less-used trail. I’ve actually run it in reverse at some point in the past, but I only realised this as I was climbing under and over broken trees and trying not to snag myself on anything sharp. At least by this point I was less worried about touching things as it wasn’t a route likely to have been pawed over by anyone too ill (although I made a conscious effort to keep fingers out of my face – let’s hope I managed that). It turns out this path took me straight back in the direction I’d come from on the road, but with more obstacles. It then climbed and brought me out at the telecoms mast again.

Having had my fill of masts I retraced my trail route back home chalking up yet another 5 mile route. It was slower than previous ones due to the obstacles. Yet I still seemed to push out a higher heart rate than I’d have liked. More work to be done on that methinks!

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