Updated: Feb 23
Our very own Lady Lockdown spills the beans on life during a virtual training camp as a reluctant runner.
During 2020 I really upped my commitment to sitting down. By the end of the year I had literally made a sport out of it. But throw in increasingly creaky joints and a steady outgrowth of my wardrobe and I decided something had to change. So I signed up to Onetrack’s El Sonido Challenge - a 3-month-long run camp. Some might say a bold move considering running is something I associate with being chased by bears or murderers but little else. It is a last resort for me. It is most definitely not my chosen form of exercise.
Weeks 1 + 2
Turns out El Sonido is 7 days a week and features rather a lot of running. Who knew? Keen to be a Grade A student I start with a bang, or rather a keen walk, but I’m getting my sessions in.
Onetrack made the genius move of providing a task list to tick off every day, which is not only addictive, but also highly satisfying in the middle of a pandemic during which my biggest achievements otherwise revolve around whether I showered that day.
I am getting outside more, I am moving, I have structure, and I do feel better.
Apparently a big part of running is mobility. Something I spent much of 2020 working to eradicate. We have been assigned the same mobility session to do every morning for 2 weeks before we switch to a different part of the body. And if this sounds like nice stretching, bear in mind our coach, Fletch, doesn’t seem to know the difference between ‘a little burn’ and ‘my bum is on fire’.
To motivate me to complete my mobility session each day I have paired Fletch with guilty music soundtracks. 80’s, 90’s RnB, The Spice Girls. Enjoyed listening to 2 Become 1 today whilst being given tips on how to not break my spine.
My friend and I are both taking part in this camp. This means we’ve developed a ‘Onetrack Language’ (‘have you done your stuff yet’) and talk about ‘routes’ a lot. However, ‘I’m off to do my mobilisations’ has turned into ‘I’m off to do Fletch’ which feels a little inappropriate.
Am suffering from Week 3 legs. Which in reality means bits of me hurt and my coach has told me to take rest for 2 days and reevaluate. It’s difficult to pause so early in, and I have tick-list withdrawal symptoms. However, the Onetrack coaches are great at saying all the right things, and I am trying to be great at listening to them. My exercise for today? A slow walk to Tescos for Ibuprofen.
Day 3 of rest. Assume ‘relax and take Ibuprofen for the inflammation’ means, ‘walk to the shops for snacks and wash your tablets down with a cheeky vodka and diet coke whilst dancing to show tunes in the kitchen’. #balance.. right?
Deload week. Which essentially means, we exercise, but less, to give our bodies a chance to recover. This is a very welcome shift for me due to what my coach kindly refers to as ‘niggles’ but what in actual fact feels like I no longer own my legs.
After 3 weeks of mega running it’s mentally difficult to slow down. I am struggling with knowing I’m doing less than everyone else and now taking it personally. The inner dialogue goes like this:
Voice in my head: You can’t run because you’re rubbish and lazy and everyone else is better than you.
Me: I am training sensibly so I can improve.
VIMH: You signed up to a challenge full of clever sporty runners and you are old and blob-like.
Me: I’m sure everyone is experiencing their own issues.
VIMH: No, you are in a group of He-Men and Wonder Women and you are the only one who can’t run like the wind.
Me: That’s an incredibly retro reference.
VIMH: Remember the Stay Puft man in the 80’s version of Ghostbusters? That’s what you are.
Me: I hate you.
And so on...
Inner critic aside, we spent the weekend hearing from dieticians and cooking together over a Google Meet call which really upped the team spirit and taught me sweet potatoes and white potatoes are nutritionally almost identical and therefore the health food industry largely talks out of its bum.
Armed with a whole host of new snack ideas and having been encouraged to eat carbs before bed I’m going to take a leap of faith, trust in the coaches and look forward to a shiny new month of training ahead.
Month 2, Week 1
I had a bit of a breakthrough this week. Well, two if we’re going to be exact.
The first being that a 3-month run camp is unlikely to transform me into Mo Farah, particularly from my starting position of horizontal on the sofa. But what it can do is set me up with a good mental attitude, some handy knowledge and tools, and hopefully a bit of enthusiasm to continue this journey on my own. My coach pointed that out, and it helped shift my outlook into a more positive gear. It’s easy to get caught up in what we see as ‘measurable progress’ - stats on Strava, the needle on the scales. I suspect our exam-based education system and a success-obsessed society is to blame here, but that’s a rant for another soap box. Just because enjoyment, happiness or empowerment can’t be measured by Apple doesn’t mean they’re any less important, or cultivating them doesn’t look any less like progress. We were asked to listen to a podcast on intention recently as our homework, and a very wise man said that a successful life, to him, looked like a peaceful one. I think he’s onto something - and quite frankly if this camp helps me run a slow and steady 5k, have a bit of fun and feel content doing it? Well, I am the winner and I shall be making my own medal in true lockdown-craft style.
My second revelation is perhaps a little less profound but equally dazzled me.
Out doing my intervals I had the nifty idea to look...up. And I mean, eye-level up. Not at the floor immediately in front of my feet. And like an epiphany I suddenly understand the whole ‘running fast feels like flying’ concept. I was thrust marvellously into an ‘I’m Flying Jack’ situation and I realised that for a long time I have been running really, really wrong.
Now whilst I know essentially nothing about the biology side of things, I’m pretty sure I was failing to stand up straight and managing to remove all the fun out of it for myself by fixating solely on my feet. Quite literally fixating on them... with my face.
So, needless to say running has been a smidge more enjoyable this week.
Month 2, Week 2
Have you ever tried to run in the snow? No? Imagine a demented horse competing in Arctic Dressage and you’ll have a good idea what a Fartlek session dodging ice puddles looks like.
Coach Heidi likes to say that during an easy run you should be able to have a chat with your running mate without getting out of breath. She encourages us to test the theory whilst we’re out during her sessions. ‘Why the f**k am I doing this’ at an enthusiastic volume served the dual purpose of measuring my speed and ensuring social distancing this week.
The bonus of it being minus, oh, a million degrees, is that our Coaches are terribly congratulatory every time we manage to make it outside at all - which I really like. Keep the constant praise coming guys.
Stay tuned for more not-so-sordid updates from our reluctant runner...