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Kick-starting My Running (after Covid-19 lock-down)

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Hi everyone, been some time since I lasted posted; but the three months of lock-down due to the Covid-19 global pandemic has not provided a lot of inspiration. During two of those three months I only managed to log just over 40 km for the entire month! Yes, a whole month of running and I barely covered the distance of one marathon …. :(

After the “lock-down” was eased and we were able to go outside our houses for non-essential purposes, I started to put in some road runs. It wasn’t easy, I had lost quite a bit of my fitness (speed and endurance) in those three months and the new rules mandated the wearing of a mask; which took a bit of getting used to breathing the hot, moist air. Both the lack of fitness and the mask necessitated a reduced pace for my runs; but, you have to start somewhere. So, for the next month, I was pretty much just trundling along, 5K’s around the neighborhood and of course, the Thursday Night, Colombo Night Runners group. It was wonderful sharing experiences and laughs with the gang again; like a new day dawning. :)

And then, the two largest running groups in Colombo got together and decided to sponsor a 10K and Half-marathon (21.1 km) “virtual” race over the weekend of 25-26 July. Being “virtual”, it was open to anyone, anywhere, and FREE! One of its objectives was to “kick-start” people back into running after the relaxation of the Covid-19 lock-downs.

I had been doing some running, mostly easy 3-5 km with the occasional easy run extending out to 10 km or so. When I saw the post advertising the CCR/CNR virtual races, I wanted to do the half-marathon; but there was not really enough time to prepare myself to “race” one. To be honest, I was questioning myself as to whether or not I’d be able to complete that distance since it had been so long since I’d run anything even close to 21 km.

Two weeks before the race, I had planned to do a new 18 km route I had “discovered” near my house. The first (and last) 3km were a bit hilly, but the middle 12 (6 out and 6 back) were fairly flat, running along a canal and parts of a walking path. The day dawned wet and rainy … but, as runners know, one can’t pick the weather on race day, so you go with what you’ve got. I laced up an old pair of running shoes as I didn’t want to ruin my better shoes in the mud along the canal … but, that turned out to be a poor decision … by the time I’d gotten to the turn-around point (9km), the soles had separated from both shoes, and the shoes (and I) were done running for the day. Fortunately, I carry some cash on longer runs, so could get a cab back home.

Hmmm … not the confidence booster that I was looking for (and needed) … so, the next weekend (the week before the race) I set out to do it again … just felt that I needed to get at least an 18 km run in BEFORE the half-marathon “race” to convince myself that I really could go the distance. That run went ok; but my speed, even in the flat area, was not even close to my pace prior to the lock-downs. However, I now knew that I could finish, and decided that I’d just treat the virtual race more as a long run, than a race.

So, a group of folks were discussing running the race on Saturday at a 6:30 min/km pace. That seemed like a good pace for me, as my 18 km run the week before was around a 6:50 pace, but included hills at the beginning and end. The 6:30 pace was about what I was comfortably running at in the flat areas. Now with a plan and a loose target, I was as ready as I was going to be for the race!

Saturday arrived, overcast, a bit drizzly, but cool for the tropics and not too much wind, about as good a running day as one can hope for in Colombo. As per the plan, I started off at my 6:30 pace, and pretty much maintained it for the first 8 km or so …. At that point, I was running on Marine Drive, a long, flat stretch along the rail tracks and ocean. The drizzle had stopped, but the sky was still pretty much overcast, so the sun was not an issue. There were lots of volunteers staggered around the “course” and some were providing mobile support crews to make sure all the runners were getting what they needed in terms of fuel and fluids and, just as important those shouts of encouragement that kept you going. I was feeling pretty good by that time, having held the pace back, so decided to start ramping things up a bit; and was clicking along at just under 6:00/km pace for the final 5 km or so.

It was a good race. I *could* have gone faster at the start; but, I was worried about starting too fast and then suffering at the end on spent legs. So, looking back, I am quite happy with my decision, and next time, I now know that I can target a faster pace at the start.

The CCR/CNR “virtual” race has met its objective and I am engaged in my running program again. I have re-calibrated my targets and pacing and can focus on improving my pace and distance. Although there are no races on the horizon, a little bird has whispered in my ear that perhaps a 42.2 km run on 06 December … let’s get ready! :)

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