Category Archives: Marathons

Turbo, ride, run (my unholy trinity)

After running on Tuesday and Thursday, it was back to the turbo on Friday. I was pinched for time so just 30 minutes but ridden quite hard; sadly, the speed was registered at 29.9kph by Strava.

After a day in the garden I went out on the bike late on Saturday – it wasn’t a difficult decision as it was that or the turbo trainer. I rode for just over 36km (22.5 miles) in 80 minutes and managed to take it reasonably sensibly … apart from the two times I found myself behind other road cyclists who, I could tell, really wanted to be chased and overtaken.

A bit pathetic for an old man? Guilty as charged.

The big problem, of course, is that once you overtake, you then have to push on hard for the next couple of miles to avoid looking like an idiot as they, effortlessly, cruise back past you.

One of them was down on his tri-bars which made the chase harder but also made me realise that I should refit mine. I am currently cycling alone and in relatively light traffic so it would be pretty safe and why turn down the couple of free kph that they tend to offer?

On matters ‘aero’, I’m still grappling with whether I should get a pair of deep rim carbon wheels. Although I don’t cycle at an average of 20mph (32kph, the speed at which they are said to come into their own) I do spend a reasonable amount of time at that speed – so they might be a genuine benefit (to everything but my bank balance).

I know a gentleman in Michigan and another in Tasmania who would consider that decision to be a total no-brainer.

On Sunday morning I ran with my wife – she wanted to do the local Strava hill segment again (competitive juices flowing strongly). We did that and then I ran on to do some laps around Badbury Clump for a total run of 8.3km (just over 5 miles).

The car park there has been shut during the lockdown so, although the whole area itself has been open, it’s been fairly deserted and a joy to run in. The car park has now reopened and was full – but at least the people were well spread out and social distancing was not an issue.

For some reason Strava hasn’t recorded the segment we ran but I can work out a time from the maps and the route tracker – she blitzed her previous time by between 10 and 15 seconds. What a performance.

Some years ago we ran the “Town and Gown” 10km race in Oxford three years in succession. It’s a great course through the city centre and the aim was for my wife to break the hour barrier. We managed 58 minutes odd on our last attempt – I’m working on getting her to enter next year but it’s an uphill battle.

The rest of Sunday will be spent mowing and playing croquet. It’s what Sundays were made for.

Stocktake after 8 weeks of lockdown

  • weight – 68 kg (decent)
  • resting pulse – 48 bpm (fair)
  • hair – long, grey and unkempt (but at least I don’t have to worry about the roots being a different colour)
  • mental health – entirely unchanged (not sure if that is good or bad, but I tend to put it down to a sad lack of imagination on my part)
  • running – OK, I’m enjoying it a lot, but I’m not doing any great distances (perhaps it’s a good thing the ultra marathon is postponed to 2021)
  • cycling – moderate at best (how on earth did I ever get fit enough to ride out to to the alps, let alone do the ‘Everest’?)
  • Achilles tendons, fine; calf muscles, fine; left knee, not fine
  • garden – better than ever.

Interesting things this week

1. African proverb: A frog’s happiness comes with the rains.

… and who doesn’t like a happy frog?

2. The Dutch government has issued new guidance to single people seeking intimacy during the pandemic, advising them to find a ‘sex buddy’.

The National Institute for Health and the Environment said that ‘Sex with yourself or with others at a distance is possible’.

I see the Dutch in an entirely new (red) light.

3. Steve Linick: Trump fires state department inspector general

I’m starting to feel left out because the President hasn’t bothered to fire me (yet).

4. With the division’s season coming to an early end, our local football club (Swindon Town) is set to be promoted and crowned Champions. Not how anyone would have wanted it to end – but we’ll take it.

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44 (x2 from previous week)

28/3 – 113 (x2.5)

4/4 – 356 (x3.2)

11/4 – 653 (x1.8)

18/4 – 1070 (x1.6)

25/4 – 1336 (x1.25)

2/5 – 1540 (x1.15)

9/5 – 1688 (x1.09)

16/05 – 1902 (1.13)

Run, run, Strava segments, a charity quiz and training vs exercise

It’s dawned on me that with my challenges postponed to next year, I’m not ‘training’ for anything – I’m just ‘exercising’. The absence of any sort of training plan should have been a clue …

It feels like there is a real difference between the two: training has a more specific purpose and so comes with a greater obligation and urgency. Exercise has a less specific aim and the ability to be more flexible – I’m going to try to embrace the difference.

I gave the difference an introductory hug on Monday by gardening, scrubbing a crazy-paving path and seating area – but not exercising beyond that. We ran through the village together on Tuesday morning before I miscounted the laps around the old hill fort and pushed hard in getting a PB on a very nasty local hill which is a Strava segment. Nearly 7 miles in all (over 11km) and really enjoyable (except for the big effort up the hill).

I decided that two days of quite hard manual work in the garden exempted me from other exercise on Wednesday but back to it on Thursday running with my wife – 7.5km (4.7 miles). I ran with her so she could record a time for the local hill Strava segment on my Garmin – and what a good time it was (in the top half out of nearly 70, and just two seconds behind a running friend of mine … should I tell him?).

Quizzing for charity

I’m part of a group of about a dozen old work mates who go on a ‘gentleman’s sporting weekend’ each year. We’ve been far and wide in the UK, mainland Europe (from Lisbon in Portugal to Budapest in Hungary) and North America (including Boston, New York and Toronto).

On Thursday we had a Zoom-based quiz for charity – the winner to decide where the money went. Modesty forbids mentioning who won, but I chose a local Young Carers group helping children who find themselves in the role of main carer for parents or other family members. It’s a great cause.

Interesting stuff so far this week

1. The authorities in Nigeria’s southern Rivers state have demolished two hotels for allegedly violating lockdown rules introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Beats a small fine or a police warning as a disincentive to breaking the law

2. Even if you dance in the water, your enemies will accuse you of causing dust.

Love these African proverbs

3. Coronavirus: Tui urges opening up tourism to safer countries

Tui is a travel company, based in Germany. The idea is that safer countries are identified and opened up as holiday destinations (so they soon stop being safer countries??)

4. Coronavirus: New Zealand reopens with midnight barbers queues

I admit to not being a style icon when it comes to grooming (or indeed anything else) but I can’t image any circumstances that would have me queueing for a haircut at midnight.

Run, scrub, scrub, run, turbo, ride, run (a better balance?)

Quite a lot ached on Monday morning – due more to the driveway scrubbing than the cycling or the running, I suppose. Nevertheless, I ran in the morning with my wife – a gentle 6km.

It finally dawned on me that, with the cumulative wear and tear from continuing driveway cleaning, I was probably overdoing it with training sessions on top. I took Tuesday and Wednesday off while upping the driveway schedule.

It was our younger son’s 28th birthday on Wednesday – spent with him locked down in London. He said he didn’t mind being alone for his birthday as much as he minded being 28. We certainly minded not seeing him but we managed an extended family Zoom chat in the evening.

Thursday we finally finished cleaning the drive (it took about 10 days of pretty hard effort and four worn away wire brushes). I mowed for a couple of hours – but managed a late afternoon 10k run in just under an hour.

Having mowed, the croquet resumed on Friday (with an honourable draw), together with gardening and a session on the turbo trainer. I made the mistake of increasing the distance to 23km and struggled horribly right from the start – but stuck with it, taking a painful 49m 41s.

Undeterred by the tough turbo experience I got out on the bike on a lovely warm Saturday. The aim was for just a gentle spin – I even chose a different route from normal so I wouldn’t be tempted to compare times.

The route was great (Clanfield, Bampton, Aston, Ducklington, Curbridge, Lechlade, Faringdon) but within a couple of miles the competitive juices got going and I rode the 53.44km at 29.2kph (33.2miles at over 18mph).

We ran just over 4 miles on Sunday morning – one of our usual routes, plus a bit to deliver a card for the 65th birthday of the friend I did the Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux with back in 2015 to mark our 60th birthdays. Hard to believe that was nearly five years ago.

With no remaining 2020 challenges, and my 65th birthday just two months away, I’ve decided to look for a way to mark that with a challenge. It has to be one that I can take on with just about any version of likely lock-down measures that might be in force at the time, and I think I’ve found it.

I’m going to have to get some proper cycling in at some stage.

Interesting things this week

1. BBC: News: Dealing with curly hair during lockdown

More insightful journalism getting to the heart of matters of national importance.

2. African saying: The goat complains that its master’s sickness bothers it. If its master survives, there will be a feast. If he dies, there will be a burial. Either way, its life is at stake.

Who’d want to be a goat?

3. New Zealand had a very strict virus lockdown, during which a group of thieves went to work on a yard full of rental vehicles, all lined up, unlocked and with the keys inside. Over a long weekend, a total of 97 vehicles were stolen.

Not too easy to get rid of them on an island nation of under 5 million inhabitants – 85 vehicles recovered within days.

4. The local Costa Coffee reopened for drive through orders only. Apparently the queue caused some traffic chaos.

The Liberal in me is pleased that an element of normality and choice has been restored but part of me is sad that so many think a Costa Coffee is a necessity.

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44 (x2 from previous week)

28/3 – 113 (x2.5)

4/4 – 356 (x3.2)

11/4 – 653 (x1.8)

18/4 – 1070 (x1.6)

25/4 – 1336 (x1.25)

2/5 – 1540 (x1.15)

9/5 – 1688 (x1.09)

Turbo, turbo, turbo, turbo, run, ride (a different turbo challenge but 4 sessions is plenty)

A new week of lockdown started with a new approach to the turbo trainer. I’ve been stuck in the ’45 minute session’ rut for a while now so it seemed time to try something a bit different.

Although I would always push myself pretty hard, there wasn’t any reward for working harder. I’ve now decided to shake it up a bit and sometimes go for distance rather than time. I’ll increase the distance bit by bit but the big carrot is going to be the thought that I can shorten the session by going faster. A proper and tangible benefit for increased effort, and a way of breaking out of the 45 minute rut.

I realised that in the last 12 turbo sessions of 45 minutes, I’d only got to 22km 3 times and to 22.5km only once, so that was the distance I set myself to start with.

On Monday I cycled faster than all but one of those previous 12 sessions and the 22.5km took 45m 50s. I suppose that makes it a good idea in as far as pushing me to work harder is concerned – but a bad idea if I wanted an easy life.

The spell of really good weather broke on Tuesday – cool and pretty wet. The croquet was postponed (which fitted neatly with just about all the other sport around the globe) and the major project of tackling the driveway was put on hold. It’s a block paved drive which, over more than 25 years, has acquired some weeds in the joints and moss on the shaded bits, which are now getting addressed with wire brushes, brooms, weed killer and a large amount of elbow grease.

I almost wimped out of the turbo Tuesday evening as I was feeling very tired but I forced myself and managed the 22.5km in 45 minutes and 1 second, which was surprising as I was struggling before I’d done 10km.

Wednesday started out dry which enabled resumption of the driveway clearance – luckily it did rain later which put a stop to it. After three consecutive days of running and then two with turbo sessions I took a rest day.

Thursday was back to the drive and the turbo. I’d decided that I was going to go easy on the turbo but it felt OK once I started so I pushed on and got to the 22.5km target in 44m 09s – 1m 41s faster than Monday.

Forgetting that the whole idea was to have a bit of a shorter session if I hit the 22.5km early, I carried on to complete the 45 minutes for just over 23km (at 30.7kph – 19mph). The biggest problem is working out how this fits in with my previous decision to reduce the length and intensity of my exercise sessions.

Drive and turbo yet again on Friday. The aim was to run but the hailstones put paid to that. I really did not want to use the turbo again and it made me realise how much I miss the gym – if only for some welcome variety. A gentle recovery spin – 47 minutes for only 20km, but it felt so much harder.

I ran laps around Badbury Clump on Saturday – a bit over 9km (5.6 miles). It was lovely, but not being the turbo by itself would have been enough to have made it really enjoyable.

Sunday was back to the driveway – after a few more hours on hands and knees, it’s over half done and have completely worn away two wire brushes. To celebrate I went for a gentle ride later in the afternoon, just over 40km.

A week with nearly 130km (80 miles) on static and proper bikes and just the one run. If last week told me my knee doesn’t want the running overdone (remember that for next year’s postponed ultra marathon), this week told me that 4 turbo sessions is plenty.

The rooks in the loft space have suddenly gone very quiet. Any eggs should have hatched by now so I’m wondering if there has been a ‘domestic’ dispute or some other failure of matrimonial bliss.

Interesting things this week

1. Sudanese proverb. ‘A snake that has a locust in its mouth does not bite.’

So true.

2. Argentina has banned ticket sales for commercial flights to, from, or within Argentina until 1 September.

With ‘only’ 4,000 confirmed infections and 192 deaths at the time, whether it’s right or wrong, that’s decisive government.

3. BBC News: ‘I returned my suits and spent £100 on joggers’

London based lawyer sends back her sober corporate gear back, and spends £100 on comfy loungewear instead. Now she admits she is pretty much living in casual clothes suitable for relaxing at home, be it hoodies, joggers or pyjamas. “I’ve found myself saying to my housemates if I’m going for a walk, ‘oh it doesn’t matter, does it? It’s lockdown.’

How on earth does this rank as ‘news’?

4. Most expensive tweet ever?

Tesla’s founder Elon Musk wiped $14bn off the carmaker’s value after tweeting that its share price was too high.

Now that, Mr President, is a real tweet!

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44 (x2 from previous week)

28/3 – 113 (x2.5)

4/4 – 356 (x3.2)

11/4 – 653 (x1.8)

18/4 – 1070 (x1.6)

25/4 – 1336 (x1.25)

2/5 – 1540 (x1.15)

Run, run, run (a great end to the week … or am I being sarcastic?)

Les Lacets de Montvernier that I cycled last year. This year’s alpine cycling trip is looking doomed

A hard day’s manual labouring in the garden on Thursday. After eight straight days with a run or session on the turbo trainer, that turned it into a ‘rest day’ of sorts as I couldn’t face either a run or the bike.

Running with my wife on Friday reminded me of another valuable lesson – the benefit of rest days. We don’t run that fast (although she is now routinely running sub 7 minute kms – bravo to her), but it felt a really good 4 miles with a fair bit of spring in my step.

Of course, it didn’t feel quite as good on Saturday when I really needed it – but almost 14km (over 8.5miles) at just under 6 minute kms. Embarrassingly, I made the rookie error of dressing appropriately for the slightly cool start to the run with no thought to the fact that I was going to be boiling by the time of the rather warm weather finish.

Warm again on Sunday when I ran 6.75km (4.2miles) with my wife.

At the moment we are in another 3 weeks of lockdown – accompanied by a lot of talk about how, and when, to come out of it. With much discussion of how to finish the football season and re-start other sports, we also have the opposite message with the 27th September Berlin Marathon being cancelled (poignant as today would have been the London Marathon).

To be honest, I don’t blame the politicians and medical experts for not knowing the answers – we are in uncharted waters.

That’s it for another action-packed week. Five runs (over 40km in all) and a turbo session. (Say it quietly, but I’ve also stepped up to the croquet challenge in a big way.)

Interesting things in the news this week

1. BBC website: “Tennis pro Clarke benefits from live-in coach“. Britain’s No5 rated male tennis player (currently world No 166, no less) is lucky that he lives with his brother, who is his coach.

A fine example of the desperation of the sports writer when there is no sport to write about.

2. I thought I had a good sense of sarcasm. However, now Pres. Trump has explained that his comments on injecting disinfectant were sarcasm I realise that I have no grasp whatsoever of what sarcasm sounds like.

Also, I now realise that I have no understanding of when sarcasm might be appropriate.

I quite like the advice “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”.

3. A well-meaning cleaner took the opportunity to give a locked-down UK library a thorough clean and replaced all of its books on the shelves – in size order.

An excellent idea. I’ve always found those books which are 8.5 inches tall to be best although, personally, I like to organise them by colour – books in red covers are invariably good.

4. A Syrian national based in Lebanon has been arrested for allegedly putting up a Nigerian maid for sale in Facebook advert. A passport photo of the 30-year-old domestic worker was included in the advert, saying she was for sale for $1,000 (£807).

Hard to believe this can happen in the 21st century.

5. Headline on the BBC News website: Coronavirus: ‘I had to shave off my beard so I could wear a face mask’

That’s getting to the heart of the big issues facing us today.

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44 (x2 from previous week)

28/3 – 113 (x2.5)

4/4 – 356 (x3.2)

11/4 – 653 (x1.8)

18/4 – 1070 (x1.6)

25/4 – 1336 (x1.25)

Run, turbo, run, turbo, run, turbo – rooks and rabbits

Keep calm and play croquet

We ran on Monday morning, without any great enthusiasm on the part of my knee. A short run (3 miles) in a biting wind which came as a nasty surprise after the good weather of the previous days.

Croquet again on Tuesday afternoon: we might be up the creek without a paddle, but we’re British – stiff upper lip and all that. I won’t record the results so far, not through false modesty but because I’m taking a beating.

On the subject of croquet, out of (possible) interest, the full name of All England Club which hosts the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, is actually the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Originally (1868) it was founded as the All England Croquet Club – tennis was introduced later.

I’ve decided to keep going with the exercise five or six times a week (I seem to be able to fit it into my busy schedule) but ease off on the intensity/duration. After 5 successive days with some sort of exercise session, I took Tuesday as a rest day but put in 45 minutes on the turbo on Wednesday.

I don’t know if the rest day was the difference but I did 23.38km @31.2kph (14.5miles @19.4mph) – much better than recent efforts. For some reason I was able to push a larger gear than has been the case lately, for the whole of the time.

Thursday morning was another run with my wife – about 4 miles in more decent weather – and another 45 minutes on the turbo on a wet and chilly Friday evening. Harder than Wednesday but not as fast. I really don’t understand this exercise lark.

Saturday morning it rained – a nice break from having to water the pots out in the garden but otherwise rather dreary, even after the rain stopped. I ran in the afternoon, just over 10.4km (about 6.5 miles). It was enjoyable except for the delinquent toe launching another attack on its neighbour.

My knee wasn’t too happy and I also tweaked my left calf on the run which meant that Sunday was another 45 minutes on the turbo. Sadly, that put an end to the possibility that I could do a training sequence of “run, turbo, run, turbo, run, run, run” in homage to Flanagan and Allen.

Big local news of the week, the dozen catmint plants I put out in a couple of the flower beds have survived the first few days – last year they were repeatedly dug up and destroyed by rabbits, although the catmint by the side of the driveway was left alone.

The rooks nesting in one of the loft spaces have made themselves very much at home. From the sound of it, they are holding line dancing sessions for the entire rookery. There is also a pair nesting above the garages – at times it’s like a scene from ‘The Birds’.

It’s easy to lose perspective at the moment. Quite rightly, coronavirus dominates the news but I saw a headline that, in the UK, one in five deaths is linked to the virus. Of course, one is too many but without actually thinking about it, I’d assumed that the virus was the main source of deaths at the moment.

I was astonished to read that it would be normal for there to be about 10,000 deaths a week in the UK at this time of year (around 500,000 – 600,000 pa). As we head into another three weeks of lockdown, it’s very sobering that while life seems to be on hold, death, sadly, is not.

Stay safe out there.

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44

28/3 – 113

4/4 – 356

11/4 – 653

18/4 – 1070

Happy Easter! Turbo, run, run, ride, croquet (and things you learn after nearly 33 years of marriage)

One outcome of the pandemic is simplicity. Normally for Easter we’d be up to London, or the boys would come to us or we’d all meet in Bournemouth. This year no choice: us here and them in London.

It’s very disappointing not to see them – but it’s the only possible decision. The weather is pretty good at the moment – I hope that people are sensible and resist the temptation to break the lockdown.

Of course, my wife had bought them Easter eggs before the lockdown began, which we can’t give them – and she has now sent them eggs through an online service. It means I have to eat my own egg and the spares that we still have for them. So much for weight control.

I did 45 minutes on the turbo on Thursday – the first of the year with the conservatory doors open – and I regretted the long sleeve shirt and long trousers.

On Friday I ran to the old hill fort at Badbury and then laps round it. It was lovely – a couple of hills to get there but then a shaded track to run on. In all, I ran a little over 5 miles and, for the first time this year, it was in just one layer. I ran in the souvenir shirt from the Rotterdam Marathon which the printing on the shirt reminds me was a year ago last Tuesday. So much has changed since then …

I ran with my wife on Saturday – I did about 4.5 miles in even warmer weather. It’s taken nearly 33 years of marriage but I’ve realised how fundamentally incompatible we are – she prefers running early in the morning and I’m an afternoon/evening runner. Probably too late to do anything about it now.

I rode outside on Sunday – just the second of the year. It started out very hard but I got into the swing of it by the end – 51km @28kph (about 32miles @17.4mph). Lots of cyclists and dog walkers out but the relative absence of cars is great – I even took a few roads that I’d normally avoid because of the traffic.

Two turbo sessions, three runs and a ride in the week – to say nothing of the croquet games we managed once I’d got the ‘best’ lawn under some sort of control.

It’s odd – we do not seem to have turned the corner in fighting the coronavirus in terms of deaths (a little more encouraging about cases) and there is still news about the cancellation of events – but there is also more talk about when things might resume.

I have no medical knowledge but to me at least, it seems that the lockdowns are not simply going to be removed – but will merely be eased in some way, at some point. At the moment, the UK confirmed cases are in the order of 0.1% of the population – there will be a lot more mild cases that will not have been confirmed, I’ve seen 4% as a guess as to the full infection rate in the country.

Despite the severity of the issue, that’s a very small part of the total population. In the absence of a vaccination, aren’t the majority of us going to have to get the infection before it starts to die out?

Isn’t the approach simply to spread the infections over a longer time to help the health services cope? I hope I’m wrong, but to drip feed the infections, won’t there need to be lockdowns of some severity or other for quite a while yet?

89 hours of NHS volunteering – no calls! They have obviously realised that I’m the sort of helper who can make things so much worse.

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44

28/3 – 113

4/4 – 356

11/4 – 653 (still under 0.1%)

Turbo, run and a bit of gardening (has it really come to this?)

Dragon Hill from White Horse Hill, Uffington

On Monday I extended the ‘clap for the NHS’ concept. I decided that my evening training was a ‘Turbo for Covid19 sufferers’. 45 minutes for 21km – they deserved better.

Although I hold no particular brief for him, that includes Boris Johnson. Like him or not, agree with his politics or not, and whether he was the Prime Minister or not, he’s a human being and that alone justifies my hopes that he recovers – as I hope for everyone suffering with the infection.

He’s an interesting (and somewhat divisive) character, even ignoring the politics. I believe he is very intelligent but he can come across as a buffoon. While David Cameron never shook off the ‘Eton schoolboy’ tag (used as something of a slight), that never seems to be thrown at Johnson. He has a bit of a ‘teflon’ coating that means his mistakes don’t seem to stick and his reputed philandering doesn’t seem to be held against him very widely. I have no idea how he does it.

On Tuesday I ran with my wife – further than our usual runs together at 5.1 miles. It was the first time this year that I got properly warm on a run and it was great but I feel that the approaching need to move smoothly from complaining about the cold to complaining equally passionately about it being too hot.

I then enforced the eviction notice I had served on the plants seeking sanctuary in the conservatory. The forecast suggests we have no frosts on the horizon so the garden is now rich in geraniums, olive trees, catmint, erigeron, a lemon tree and some unidentified bulbs that have done nothing for months.

There were encouraging looking UK coronavirus numbers on Sunday and Monday but, sadly, they owed more to delays in reporting over the weekend and deaths in the UK rose again in the numbers released on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I’m sure that it’s important to look at the figures over a few days to understand them properly but the rate of growth seems to be slowing. The experience of Italy and Spain would suggest that the peak is still ahead (but getting closer).

Of course, then the question will be how to ease the lockdown – and what that does to the the infection rate. In the absence of a vaccination and no ‘herd immunity’ yet, I guess it’s not going away any time soon.

We continue to follow the rules and are relatively little affected on a day to day basis as we have no new work patterns to adapt to and no small children to accommodate, but have plenty of garden space, lots to do and great access to fairly empty and attractive running routes. Although it’s a great shame not being able to socialise with friends, the biggest issue is not being able to see our sons in London. One is ‘furloughed’ from the end of this week and the other is working as hard as ever from home – but both are safe and healthy, which is the main thing.

On Wednesday I drafted the accounts for my father’s estate, having got the probate pretty quickly. It’s sobering and terribly sad to think how many people will be doing the same over the next few months.

Injury update

Knee: I was rather premature when I decided it was injury-free in December. I was probably whistling in the dark because I was going to ski on it in January, come what may. It still hurts a bit – not entirely cured but much better. With no sportive and no ultra marathon to train for I’m wondering if I should ease off to give it time to heal – but it had 9 weeks at the start of the year and an outbreak of good sense like that is unlikely to happen again so soon.

Achilles Tendons: these hurt every morning from about October to April last year, while I was training for the Rotterdam Marathon. I managed to carry on training with them but after the run itself they had a proper rest over the summer and are now fine. I found that hills aggravated them badly but now I might start to reintroduce hill running.

Calf muscles: I guess the problem with these hurting after a run was that I’d over-protected them because of the Achilles problems. Stretching after the runs and some work on them in the gym (ah, I remember the gym fondly) has sorted the problem out but I still stretch more diligently, just in case.

Turbo, turbo, run, turbo, gym (in four days – this is probably kill or cure. I make the odds 50/50)

My wife seems to think I spend more time here than with her. Not sure if she thinks that’s a good or bad thing

Mixed results from Sunday’s return to running after the knee ligament sprain. The knee felt tight and ached a bit but both calf muscles hurt a lot.

Now I remember that I’d experienced calf muscle problems back in early December and had vowed to make sure they were well warmed up before, and well stretched after, any running – and to use the compression socks. That was a vow I’d completely forgotten.

Of course, the problem is what to do now for the knee. Do I assume it simply needs more time to recover (although the 7 weeks I gave it should have been enough) or is this just the result of running for the first time for a while – or is it something else completely?

I decided to go easy on the running this week, replacing running with sessions on the turbo trainer. I know that cycling does not really help with running faster but, at the moment, running faster is not the key aim. The turbo helps in terms of keeping the cardio-vascular system going – and for now that’s a worthwhile outcome by itself.

Accordingly, it was on the turbo on Monday evening – 45 minutes for 22.3km @ 29.67kph (13.8 miles @18.4mph).

With improving calf muscles and a pretty reasonable left knee it was turbo again on Tuesday (45 minutes for 22.25km @29.66kph, 13.8miles). Reluctant and lacklustre but almost identical to Monday’s effort. I can’t help but feel that exercise should count double when you really have to force yourself to do it.

A gentle run with my wife on Wednesday morning, just 4.6km (2.8 miles). Her first run since my injury.

I went for my first ‘double up’ day since the turn of the year and followed the run with a turbo session on Wednesday evening. Oddly, it was faster than recent efforts – 45 minutes for 22.85km @30.5kph (14.2 miles @ 19mph).

Weights in the gym on Thursday morning, which made it 5 training sessions in 4 days (and 11 in 11). None of them very long sessions – but sessions nonetheless.

I know I can’t make up for all the training I’ve missed recently and it would be mad to try – but it’s still tempting. I feel the need for a rest day coming up.

Turbo, and the first run for 7 weeks post ligament injury

I said I’d resume running in February, post knee injury, but ducked out on Saturday. I guess I was putting it off as I’m worried it might not have healed.

Instead I did an hour on the turbo (29.9km – 18.6 miles). I think the turbo is good rehabilitation as there is no impact on the knee and keeps the movement nice and straight, but, to be honest, the running would have been preferable. It was hard pushing on beyond the 45 minutes that I’ve been doing recently.

Sunday was fairly unpleasant and blustery but I’d been putting it off long enough. I took Lady Macbeth’s advice, screwed my courage to the sticking place, and went for a run.

It was my first since spraining the knee ligament 7 weeks previously, so no heroics. I ran for just 6.77km (4.2 miles). The Garmin says I was running at just under 6 minute/km pace. I’m not sure it was really that fast.

Post run, the knee feels a little tight but everything bends where it should and doesn’t bend where it shouldn’t, so I’ll take that as ‘so far so good’ and wait to see how things are tomorrow.