Running towards the wind turbines

My attempts to exercise during lockdown are not going well, surprisingly

A few weeks ago, I left you all with with a thrilling cliffhanger relating to my plans to exercise during lockdown, and, RUNNING, people. It was running. Because, when it comes to me and exercise, it’s ALWAYS running, isn’t it? It’s literally the only thing I know how to do, on account of how I hate all other forms of exercise, basically. (Yes, even whatever home workout program you’re about to suggest. I hate home workouts.) (And, I know this no longer needs to be said if you’re a regular reader here, but, for those who aren’t, YES, EVEN YOGA. Especially yoga, in fact.)

Running, however, I quite like: not so much for the actual running, you understand, but just for the fact that it gives me some much-needed time to think: and, OK, also to pretend I’m in the opening credits of a movie, as I run along, music playing, hair blowing… Yes, running I can get on board with. Sometimes. Only when it’s not raining or windy, though, because I hate that, too. But anyway!

Before Max was born, I was doing long-ish runs a few times a week. Then Max came along, and all that stopped: I just didn’t have the time for it any more. I always had the intention of getting back into it at some point, but once lockdown happened, my chances of getting out for a run seemed slimmer than ever: not only did I now have even less time for exercise, my usual route would’ve made social distancing pretty tricky, really, given the narrowness of the paths I normally run on. So there was absolutely no possibility of me getting any kind of exercise in lockdown, basically, and I was quietly resigned to this fact, even though I felt horribly guilty about it, and more than a little bit worried that if I DID somehow manage to catch Covid-19 without ever leaving the house (Which, let’s face it, is exactly the kind of thing that would happen to me…), my poor lungs wouldn’t exactly be in the best shape to deal with it.

socially isolated dally exercise

A few weeks ago, however, the penny finally dropped, and I realised the thing I should have realised years ago: namely that I don’t actually HAVE to run for miles on end, or on narrow footpaths and woodland trails, do I? No: I could, in fact, just jog over to the local sports field, say, and run laps of that for 20-30 minutes, before heading home again. Sure, it would be boring, and probably not as effective as the kind of running I used to do, but still: it would be better than the absolutely nothing I’ve been doing in the way of exercise recently, and I’d still be able to pretend I was in the opening credits of a movie as I jogged around the always-empty playing field, so why not give it a go?

Why not, indeed.

The first time I put my plan into action, it went pretty well, all things considered. Yes, it was a bit boring, and yes, I got rained on, so there was that: it was also, however, the first time in three months that I’d been on my own for more than a few minutes, and WOW, did that feel good. I know a lot of people think us introverts must be loving lockdown, on account of how we’ve been practising social distancing on our entire lives, basically, but the compete lack of downtime is actually the polar opposite of what introverts need/want, so, from that point of view, my run was a big success, and I returned home determined to do it more often.

exercise during lockdown: a socially isolated walk at the windfarm

The next time, however, I got to the sports field, with the intention of running circuits of it again, only to find that someone had got there before me, and was standing in the exact middle of it, kicking a football around. Now, it’s a big field, so social distancing obviously wouldn’t have been a problem here: it would’ve been just a little bit awkward to have started literally running rings around the poor guy, though (Especially given my inability to listen to music without mouthing the words, and, OK, occasionally doing a little bit of a dance move, too…), so I ended up just jogging around the village for the entire ten minutes that takes, before heading home.

The time after that? The same thing happened. I got to the playing field, and there was that same guy, kicking his same ball from foot to foot, right in the middle of the playing field.

The time after THAT, meanwhile? Same thing, same guy, same ball.

Since that very first time, in fact, every single time I’ve decided to go and run round the sports field, Same Guy has been there. Every single time. Just to be clear, I’m not complaining about this: I mean, I obviously realise Same Guy has just as much right to be there as I have, and, in fact, is most likely looking at me as I jog past, thinking, “FFS, Ginger Jogger is here again! Is she stalking me or something?” It’s just… what are the odds, though? I’ve been running – or trying to run – at different times, and on different days, but it seems that no matter when I go, Same Guy is there too, and I’m too self-conscious to start shuffling rings around him, ridiculous though I know that is. Is it some kind of glitch in the Matrix? Is the universe deliberately trying to thrown me and Same Guy in each other’s paths for some reason? Am I ACTUALLY in the opening credits of a movie when I head over to that sports field, only to find Same Guy waiting for me yet again? WHAT, THOUGH?

wind turbine

All of which is to say, then, that my plans for exercise during lockdown are NOT going well, really. (Same Guy, on the other hand, is getting in a LOT of football practice, so at least one of us is keeping fit…) Abandoning my sports field plan (Which, to be fair, wasn’t very well thought out, anyway…), I’ve been venturing instead onto some of the woodland trials nearby. As I feared, though, those paths aren’t wide enough to socially distance on, and there’s a lot more people using them at the moment, so every time I encounter someone coming the other way, I have to either quickly dodge into the woods themselves, and hope I don’t get lost in them, or just turn around and start running back the way I came.

On the plus side, this is definitely forcing me to run faster, because, in order to keep a decent distance between me and whoever it is behind me, I have to actually keep on running, rather than just slowing to a walk after a couple of minutes, so at least that’s something. On the minus side, though, I feel like an absolute asshole turning round and literally running away whenever I see someone approaching. I mean, I know I’ve always been socially awkward, but that’s a bit much even for me, really, and I’m very aware that, as the lockdown restrictions continue to ease, people tend to be much less understanding towards those of us who are still worried about catching the virus. I haven’t had any comments about it personally – or not so far, anyway – but I’ve seen a few on social media, from people who are a bit sneery about the idea that someone might still be anxious about it all, and I’ve noticed a general lack of social distancing when we’ve been out on our walks, which has increased my anxiety a bit, too. Despite that, however, this week we’ve continued to do our best to get out of the house whenever the weather allows: and sometimes even when it doesn’t:

Socially distanced outing during lockdown

The week has been a bit of a weird one, weather-wise. We went from 30 degree sunshine on Thursday, to 13 degrees and pouring rain on Friday, and it’s apparently set to stay that way for the rest of the week, at least. I have to admit, the change in the weather has left us all feeling a bit low. After a few weeks of sunshine, when we’ve been able to go for walks, or visit people in their gardens, the forecast rain makes us feel a bit like we’re starting lockdown all over again, because, while some shops and other indoor venues are gradually starting to open up again, Terry’s shielded status means it’ll be a long time before we feel safe enough to actually go into them.

In the meantime, we’ve been putting on our raincoats and going out when we can, but we’ve also been forced to spend a lot of time cooped up inside again, which, by week 15, is REALLY getting old now. Me being me, I’ve been spending a lot of time worrying about how we’ll cope if we’re still in this position by autumn / winter, when it’ll be dark as well as cold, and we’ll have well and truly exhausted all indoor entertainment options for an energetic two year old. One thing that’s been very obvious since we started being able to get out of the house again, is that Max really needs more fresh air and exercise than he’d been getting in our back garden: on the days we’ve had to stay indoors again, he’s been much harder to entertain – probably because he’s started to get used to being able to go out again – and I absolutely hate the thought of him having to deal with months and months more of this very small kind of life he’s been leading.

With all of that said, though, I’m really hoping he might not have to. Yesterday, for instance, was the fourth day in a row that Scotland recorded no deaths from Covid-19, and, in the last 24 hours, there’s been only five new confirmed cases here. I’m very aware that all of that could change – especially as restrictions continue to ease – but, for now, I’m hopeful that things are moving in the right direction, and that they’ll continue that way. Knowing that community transmission is currently very low here does give me a lot more confidence to get out of the house more, which is handy, because this week we had to refuel the car for the first time in three months, and, this Thursday, Terry’s having blood taken as part of his routine kidney screening. Just a few weeks ago, these two things would’ve seemed absolutely terrifying to me (Don’t even get me started on the security camera which is the latest thing to break down in our house…). Now, however, I’m significantly more comfortable with the idea of doing (some) normal things again: and, you never know, maybe this week I’ll finally get to go for a run again? Stay tuned folks…

Having you been getting much exercise during lockdown? Teach me your ways…

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

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  • Kate


    I am 1000% not a runner but I’ve started the Couch to 5K and am loving it! Im not using the proper so, I’ve got one that has Sarah Millican telling me what to do and it’s awesome. I’m on Week 5 and it’s all getting a bit more real (actual runs of longer than 5 minutes, which, for me, is terrifying) but I’m still feel motivated. My husband doesn’t know who I am anymore. ????

    Love the story about Same Guy. It sounds like an excellent offbeat comedy: Same Guy and the Ginger Jogger.

    I’m getting a bit peeved by the lockdown sneering. I don’t get why people can’t just stay in their own lane and do what they’re comfortable with – and let me do the same. I’m not telling anyone else how to live their life so find it annoying that anyone wants to get all judgey pants on me. We were told last week that we have a “bunker mentality” because I’m not rushing to put my 4 year old back in nursery school or generally go back to living life as normal. You’re lucky in Scotland, it’s been much better managed there. In two weeks, were hoping to go to Portugal ,where it’s also been better managed, for a few months – although I’m anxious about the car ferry so will be buying all the sanitizer, wipes and zoflora. ????????

    June 30, 2020
  • Erin


    I hate exercise but also “like” running. It’s basically the only thing I can handle doing for your reasons and I like to be outside (even though right now it’s so hot here I’m running inside on a treadmill and I feel like a demented hamster). I’m in the US and have been using a mask regularly when going to the store for essentials, but I haven’t been wearing one running outside and the trails are busier than usual here as well (although not too busy). I’m not running away from anyone or jumping into the woods, but I feel strange when I do the awkward shuffle to the side and sprint when I see anyone coming towards me. Hoping that I don’t accidentally inhale a damn Covid particle out there, but I need this outdoors time and exercise to curb my anxiety <3 Stay safe and I hope you somehow get ahead of Same Guy's schedule 🙂

    June 30, 2020
  • Mary Katherine


    Glad to hear you’re a runner – you need those endorphins, girl! As much as I’ve thought Scotland’s lockdown was too strict, as I look at our numbers spiraling here in the US, I think y’all had it right. I would say much more about that, but don’t want to start a political spitting match on your blog, which I enjoy SO much! Best wishes for lots of sunshine and fresh air – and endorphins!

    June 30, 2020
  • Donna


    Oh, I hate running! Good for you sticking with it. Running drives my dodgy legs crazy. I can’t do it. I do like yoga and, of course, I have my physio, but haven’t really done it since I had COVID as my lungs aren’t fully back to what they were yet.

    June 30, 2020
  • ML


    Ugh. I feel your pain. I really don’t love it when you find a good “spot” and then someone else is in it — it is no bueno for me either. Dodging people has become its own sport during all of this! Would you feel comfortable asking Same Guy (from a distance) if you see him again at the track , “I see you here a lot … what times do you usually come? I don’t want to be distracting while you’re trying to practice.” That might help you pin down a Same Guy free date/time. Or if you have a corner in your home where you could set up an elliptical machine or treadmill, perhaps that might be an option as well. A treadmill in our home has been a life-saver during the times we’ve not been able to get out to exercise.

    July 1, 2020
  • May


    Ha, we’re the exact opposite. I love yoga and have been… not hating home workouts, but you couldn’t convince me to go for a run for all the money in the world. I’ve fallen behind on my “fitness” these days though, semester is closing so I’m drowning in projects and exams and I haven’t been able to get a mat and it’s getting far too cold to execirse on the cold hard tile.
    Also opposites in that cases are now climbing where I live, but it’s hasn’t gotten too severe (no where near collapsing the health care systems for instance) and well, there will always be a peak in a pandemic. I’m just hoping to hell people actually stay inside and wear their masks so the peak isn’t absolutely devastating

    July 1, 2020
  • Eilidh


    I’m sorry to leave such a fatuous question after reading your very articulate breakdown of lockdown, however, I love the green dress you are wearing so much that I have to message and ask where it’s from! I am ashamed but the desire for the dress is outweighing said shame and an internet search in all the usual clothing haunts has proved fruitless.

    July 21, 2020