Lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t have exercise goals

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog – I have a list of excuses, mainly around how busy (for which I am so grateful) I have been, but a friend gave me a nudge and suggested I blogged about what I have been up to.

For those of you who have followed Virtual Runner (and me) for quite a while will know that I practice what I preach. I get involved in the challenges and push myself.

One of the things I have learnt about myself during the lockdowns of 2020 and now into 2021 is that I work best with a goal/challenge/deadline. This means I have targets to achieve at work, home, leisure and for fitness. I must stress that my targets might not be right for everyone; particularly when it comes to our bodies – we are all unique.

So I won’t bore you with my work, home and leisure targets but I will talk to you about what I have been doing with my fitness.

Running is my go to exercise and has now been for many years – I enjoy it, it’s flexible around my work and family. I can also do it at pretty much any time of the day. I can escape and have time for me. My January goal was to keep my running mileage up to the levels I achieved in 2020 of 200k a month.

Last year, I also found that indoor cycling (through the use of a turbo trainer) was a great way of exercising at home to restrict the amount of time I could potentially be crossing paths with others. My running had been improving due to this cross training so I wanted to keep it up. I’m not very good at cycling far (perhaps that should be a 2021 goal…) but I am not unfamiliar with exercising on a little and often basis. My target was to cycle 300k in the month of January. My plan was to cycle 10k a day to achieve this and not add pressure on myself later in the month by having to cycle far in one go.

As much as this might seem a lot, spending an hour+ a day exercising isn’t uncommon for me so I was looking for another challenge to compliment my goals. This came from a 28 day challenge that one of my running friends; EB Personal Fitness is organising. The challenge promised a reset and after a bit of a binge in December was exactly what I was after!

So I joined the group which is made up of 4 key pillars:

  • Drinking 2l of water a day
  • Working out (6 sessions a week including a stretch session) – plus my own running and riding
  • Eating wholesome foods
  • Moving more (reaching 10,000 steps a day)

This wasn’t new to me that I should be doing these things daily/on a very regular basis. But it is easy to let things slip isn’t it? So I have been made accountable! Emma suggested that each group member should set themselves targets (I wanted to shift 5lb gained from over Christmas, loose 2cm from my waist and achieve my run/ride targets) and she helped us work on these.

Emma from EB Personal Fitness has been doing workouts live on Facebook at 6.30am which initially really shocked my body – however after a couple of days it became the norm and I am finding I am far more productive with the day by getting up and starting on something so positive. A good workout clearly wakes you up!

This pic shows how tired I look after the first wake up call for exercise.

The sessions are between 20 minutes and 30 minutes a day so they have really complimented my existing run and ride plans. I also think the sessions have supported me in being able to run further (more on that later) and ride much more than I would usually – all injury free!

This hasn’t been a diet plan but it has been good to revisit what I have been eating and drinking and cutting out some of the unnecessary calories. I have tried new recipes from Pinch of Nom and Joe Wicks books to add a little variety. I also used HelloFresh a couple of times when I knew I was going to be busy with balancing work/home schooling/general life. I also decided to do dry January so have cut the booze out completely.

Here are some of my home cooked meals. Yummy!

Emma and the group I have been challenged alongside have been great, so a big thanks to them for helping making it an awesome place to be during January.

We’re now at heading towards the end of the month and I am blogging a little ahead of the 31st as I am anticipating being busy with the deadlines for you guys earning your medals! Did I achieve my goals?

Weight loss – I have actually shifted 8lbs (so far!)

2cm loss from my waist line.

Run mileage – 370km (correct at 27th January

Ride mileage – 361km (correct at 27th January)

In terms of my running and cycling mileage, I smashed my original target at the halfway point in the challenge. So I took inspiration from a Virtual Runner, Sarah Lightman who last month ran 365km in the month – 1km for every day of the year. I like the idea of this target so went for it in both my running and riding. This would mean I would beat my highest mileage ran in a month (previously 340km whilst marathon training) so I knew it was a tall order. You can probably tell I am quite competitive with myself, so my final aim is to complete 400km in each discipline!

So I am really proud of my January achievements and just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it. Even though lockdown during the Wintery months is tough, I can honestly say that with the challenges I have felt positive and raring to go. Exercise is good for our mental health, but challenging myself through exercise has been a winning combination for me.

I must stress that I don’t want to put anyone off with the large volume of running/riding and exercise in general. It has taken me years to build up to this. However, whatever level you are at – you can challenge yourself and making small changes will make you feel more positive about yourself.