Covid-19 lockdown, running and target setting

Much like a lot of you, I have taken up running during the Covid-19 lockdown. I must admit, I’m completely new to running, but nor am I Mo Farah-esque.

When I first began running during this lockdown, I absolutely hated it. I could not quite understand why anyone would just go outside and run for 20/40/60 minutes. I began to hate my own playlists. This changed somewhat when I downloaded the adidas running app, which helps track my speed and times. This is no better or worse, I’m led to believe, than the map my run or Nike versions. I have adidas running shoes, so thought I would keep the theme going.

As with anything in life, once you begin tracking it, it becomes more and more enjoyable. Suddenly I was tracking my runs against my ‘personal best’, breaking down the splits and trying to understand why it was that my last 1km was not my fastest ‘split’. Yes, I am bringing out all the technical terms.

This was going great; I was about 11 runs in to my lockdown running habit when I ran a 5km that I was particularly happy with. But it has not budged since.

After plateauing so soon in my running career, I began to research how to improve your PB. This ranged from actual running techniques to different running drills. So now I adapted to a split of 5km twice a week and a longer (slower) run and a shorter (faster) run on the alternative running days. This was great and a bit different, but soon wore off.

Then I went 4 days without going on a run. I just could not be bothered.

Boredom or tiredness?

I’m not sure exactly why I lost my motivation. It got me down a little but then I did conclude that I am just a hobby runner and should not be so hard on myself.

On the 5th day, I decided to just … run.

No timing, no 1km splits, no destination. Just, run.

It was probably my favourite run of the entire lockdown. It was so liberating not to strive to get a 5 second improvement on the last split or turn up this specific hill for the XXth time in 4 weeks.

Despite this, I still worked up a fantastic sweat. It was fun, rewarding, and conducive to getting me back into running.

I think there is a massive lesson for this that can be transferred into other aspects of my life. I have similar bored-ness/tiredness in personal finance, career, eating and socialising. It may be as simple as the fact I’m not as good with routines as I once thought. I am not sure it is this though. I think it is that I have a tendency to be too competitive and report-based.

During lockdown, it is natural that we get a real deep-dive into what it is that motivates us and what entertains us. All of the above are measured in some way. I am looking at ways I can take the pressure off, turn of the stopwatch – so to speak.

What motivates us?

We are motivated to save and enjoy a fruitful retirement. Preferably an early one. I think every other blog and magazine post I see on the subject will talk about withdrawal rates or years until retirement. I preach this too; it is very important. But what exactly are we going to do once we are there?

What happens when we have saved the money and the record has been reached/broken. I don’t have an exact answer for this – a simple, but stupid, response is that it is a good problem to have. Being retired and thinking of how to spend it. But is it? Is it a good problem to have? Because something else that lockdown has taught me … I get very bored VERY easily.

What entertains us?

With no sport or public events on, the entertainment section of our lives is undoubtedly a little light. Even soap operas have reduced recordings. In the UK, we are now allowed to go outside as much as we like, which opens up the natural/adventure side of what entertains some people. But not entirely, as it does have a different angle when you cannot retire to a nice British pub after a long walk and explore in the woods.

Netflix, Disney+ and the like are all very good. But, I could certainly live without them. I think at this stage in my life I am still defining what it is that entertains me. I know that reading books and exercise are two things that I have done every single day of the lockdown so far, so that is a start.

This is all another way of figuring out your why. In the case of my running, it is to get faster and to achieve a better time. But I was beginning to analyse and hold myself against it to the point I stopped my newfound hobby quickly. Quite an extreme and immediate case of self-sabotage.

 When I run now, I make sure that IF I am timing it, it is for a reason. Otherwise, just enjoy running and being active 🙂

See here for my other posts during Covid-19 Lockdown:

1) The impact of lockdown on: buying stocks

2) The impact of lockdown on: personal finance

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Steveark

    When conditions permit you might look into finding a group to run with. My wife and I run with a small group of friends and it’s much easier than running alone. Plus the accountability factor of realizing you are letting the group down if you don’t show up makes it less likely you’ll skip. It’s easy to social distance when running too. We’ve kept this up through the entire crisis and it’s nice having the social contact. It also led us to try some bigger challenges including many marathons.

    1. J

      This is such a good idea.
      Even more so that you’ve managed to continue it through social distancing!
      How often and how far do you usually run?

  2. Steveark

    I run 4 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays and seven miles on Saturday. My wife, who is faster, usually runs 5,5 and 10 miles on those same days. My knees are not great so my ortho doc reduced my mileage.

  3. David Mead

    I loved the simplicity of ..Just run!No tracking,no competition,just run….I guess that you were inspired by that sales pitch in What Women Want ? 🙂
    Keep up the good work!

    1. J

      It is actually since I’ve posted this, that I’ve watched that!

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