They say that people emerge from lockdown either a hunk, a chunk or a drunk. I definitely straddle two of these categories, and sadly, that doesn’t include the former.
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t been spending my days lolling on the sofa in semi-darkness, watching daytime TV surrounded by takeaway boxes, empty wine bottles and overflowing ash trays.
I’m an active and healthy 44 year-old mother-of-three who spends most of life frantically juggling kids’ activities with PTA meetings and copywriting commissions.
On a BMI chart I am comfortably ‘normal’. I am an enthusiastic runner – I train on average four times per week – but would describe my athletic ability as ‘recreational’ rather than ‘elite’. Most of my training takes place after the school run, flanked by the three other founding (and only) members of our informal running club ‘Mums on the run’ and our four-legged friends.
Or at least it did. When the schools shut down at the end of March, so did my motivation. The first few weeks in lockdown were like a weird holiday. With all of my journalism work on hold and my impending ultra cancelled, there was no reason not to crack open a bottle of wine on a Tuesday evening and every reason not to head out for a solo speed interval session.
Although, with my husband working from home rather than commuting across Manchester, I had more time than ever to run, my desire to run was eroded by this amorphous existence.
Five months on, life is starting to return to normal. The kids went back to school this week and I will be attempting to pick up the pieces of my own life by rebuilding my copywriting business and my mojo.
So here’s where I am: I have put on about half a stone in the last five months and now weigh in at just over 61kg (9st 8lb). This gain has corresponded with a gradual decline in speed and fitness. In January 2019, I averaged 8:10 minute miles over half marathon distance. Now I can barely maintain this pace over 5k.
I was pondering how to go about getting back in shape when, a couple of weeks ago, a Facebook post from Anne Chinoy caught my eye. Having reached the national finals of the 2020 Sport Fitness Trainer Awards, Anne was looking for someone to work with for the next 8-12 weeks.
She wanted someone who was looking to lose a bit of weight and gain muscle tone and fitness. I immediately messaged her.
Within a matter of minutes, there were at least 12 other eager responses to her post, each offering a compelling case as to why they would make the ideal candidate.
There was no chance she was going to pick me, I thought. I’m neither fat nor thin, fast nor slow. Just a middle-aged plodder with a biscuit habit.
So imagine my surprise and delight when she called me to say that she would love to work with me.
The first two sessions were all about benchmarking to give her the information she needed to design a programme tailored to my goals as well as my strengths and weaknesses.
A Zoom fitness test quickly exposed my lack of balance and stability. Whilst swan-like Anne gracefully demonstrated a single led dead lift, I wobbled about clumsily like the ugly duckling. The strength tests were only marginally less embarrassing; my quads were quivering just 20 seconds into a wall sit.
If Anne was wondering what she had let herself in for, she didn’t let on. She patiently demonstrated each exercise – from kettlebell goblet squats to reverse dumbell lunges – while I huffed, puffed, moaned and groaned my way through.
She also needed to establish my current running ability. This time last year I ran my fastest ever 5k (23:09). At the minute I avoid any sort of speed work as I don’t want to admit how slow I have become. The ‘Cooper Test’ established my maximum running pace as 7:43 minutes per mile over 12 minutes.
With my lack of fitness laid bare, I am now raring to embrace my ‘intermediate runner’ training programme.
|160cm (5ft 3in)
|61.2kg (9st 8lb)
|Max running pace
|7:43 minute mile
- Run 5k in under 23 minutes
- Run 1 mile in under 7 minutes
- Lose at least 8lb in weight
- Prepare for first ultra (32 miles, Sea 2 Summit, April 2021)
- Increase upper body strength, glute strength and overall fitness