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, (and a lesson re-learnt, soon to be re-forgotten, no doubt)

The bluebells putting on a great show

I learnt a lesson last week – or more accurately, re-learnt a lesson I’ve learnt and forgotten many times before, and no doubt will learn and forget again many times in the future.

Of course, warming up, cooling down and stretching are necessary to keep my ageing body working without the otherwise inevitable aches and pains. The big problem is that I remember that when I have a particular issue to address but forget it as soon as the issue goes away.

I remember them as remedial actions – and forget about them as preventative ones.

The calf I tweaked last Saturday benefitted from confinement to the turbo on Sunday but was not properly right by the time this week started (as many do) with a run with my wife on Monday. We went through the village together, with her then doing hill reps while I ran round the old hill fort – about 5 miles for me.

All the better for the bluebells being out.

Turbo for 45 minutes on Tuesday to be kinder to the calf and knees. It went reasonably well but it was my 7th day of exercise in a row and I was starting to flag so it was going to be a rest day on Wednesday – but my personal trainer duties took over and I ran with my wife, nearly 5 miles, on Wednesday.

A lovely run in glorious weather, spoilt only by being passed by a delivery van that my wife thought might have a delivery for her. Urged to go ahead to make sure we didn’t miss it by being out, I sprinted the last km, arriving at the house sweating and breathing heavily, only to find there was no delivery, the driver was just taking a break by hiding at the end of the village for a few minutes.

Things I’ve enjoyed this week

1. I struggle with the concept of oil prices going negative. If anyone in the States would like to pick up and store a few barrels for me, you can let me have them, and the cash you’ll owe me, later in the year.

2. Kenyan proverb: “An old man never knows what makes him look after cattle at his age.”


3. Romania has issued 200,000 fines in under a month to people who failed to comply with restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus. The relatively high fines handed out between 24 March and 19 April amount to £69m (€78m), said to equal Romania’s February 2020 corporate tax take.

Taking the economy seriously!

4. Army veteran’s 100th-birthday walk for ‘magnificent’ NHS

Captain Tom Moore’s walk had a fund raising target of £1,000 and has now raised over £28 million. Needs no comment.

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

TdF lives!

The big sporting news (for me at least) is the announcement that the Tour de France has been rescheduled to begin on 29 August, using the original route, as planned.

At one point there was talk of holding the race as scheduled, but ‘behind closed doors’ – now the aim is to fit it in after the French ban on large gatherings ends (in fact the ban will still be in force at the start of the race so there is a bit of an issue) but in time (they hope) to get decent weather for the race, which will end on 20 September.

It is good news as a boost to the morale of fans of the tour – but probably owes a great deal to economics as well, given the importance of Le Tour to UCI finances.

In the UK, we are allowed out for exercise each day but there has been a lot of debate over how long the exercise should last. There are no official rules on the point but while many suggest that long rides well away from home are irresponsible, others suggest that the absence of restrictions and the health benefits of cycling leave it to the individual.

I guess Messrs Froome, Bernal, Thomas et al will be in the latter camp.

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.

Run, not a run in with the rooks, and an own goal (not by a footballer)

My wife and I ran on Sunday morning, more circuits of the hill fort. Too early for the bluebells but it would normally be crowded – today just two walkers and no cars. Bravo local rule adherence.

That finished the week with three runs and three sessions on the turbo. A sensible tick-over perhaps but for now it’s more about staying fit, getting fresh air and fighting boredom.

This morning we saw two walkers, two other runners and one cyclist – all keeping a very good distance and all friendly. Sadly, the good weather has apparently been encouraging people to break guidelines and there are reports of large numbers gathering in some public places.

I fear that exercise outside the home will be under threat soon if that doesn’t stop. I must get out and measure a running track around the garden …

I’ve just realised that now my ultra has been shifted to 11th July next year, I’ll be 66 when I attempt it. Even to me, that sounds very old – but I’ve paid my entry fee and they don’t seem keen on giving refunds.

Perhaps 66 is an appropriate age to try a new Route (to get my kicks)?

It probably means that I can’t do the JPP sportive or the Marmotte next year – both of them were scheduled for 5 July this year, so they will probably clash next year too. Oh well, let’s get through 2020 first before worrying about any of that.

The afternoon was spent mowing and (nearly) battling rooks.

A few days ago we found a tile slipped from a roof. The next day we noticed twigs on the floor beneath the area of the slipped tile. Then we heard the rooks in the roof space. I was going to get into the loft space to tackle them before they laid eggs – but luckily checked the law first.

It would have been a criminal offence with a maximum of an unlimited fine or 6 months locked up! (I guess my current two weeks locked up wouldn’t have counted towards any sentence). Oh well, we have guests for the next few months.

With the absence of football, there have been few own goals to watch – until the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland lent a hand.

Last month, the Scottish government (very reasonably) issued a travel warning criticising the “irresponsible behaviour” of people with second homes and camper vans travelling to the Highlands in a bid to isolate. Yesterday, the Scottish CMO and her family were seen walking near their second home, a drive of more than an hour from their main home in Edinburgh.

Apparently, she has accepted a Police warning and has apologised “unreservedly”. That’s OK then. 

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

14/3 22

21/3 44

28/3 113

4/4 356