I am officially declaring lockdown to be a personal success. I have been making a list of all the things I have managed to achieve during this difficult time. So far, I have:
1) Stuffed my face for three solid months with anything beginning with the letter ‘c’. Ok, not exactly celery and cucumber. More like cake, chocolate, cookies and cheese.
2) Consumed what amounts to a vineyard’s worth of wine. And that’s not even counting the gin.
3) Learnt all the things in Maths that I worked very hard to ignore the first time round.
4) Reached an understanding with my children. I now realise that they can’t compute the words ‘get up’, ‘wash’, ‘stop’, ‘no’, ‘quiet’ or ‘fruit’. In turn, they now know the exact note in my voice that signifies we are about to switch to DEFCON 1.
5) Educated my children about alligators by showing them my skin after three months of excessive hand-washing.
Given the outcome of the first two items in the list, not to mention the fact that the only exercise I get that raises my heart rate, is when I attempt to squeeze into my jeans each day, I realised something had to change. So, I decided the girls and I would begin the Couch to 5km running programme. Two things led me into a false sense of security. First was the fact that I had once run a half-marathon, so I felt reasonably prepared for what was coming, and second was that the girls were actually keen to do it.
So off we went one morning in our cobbled-together running gear, full of enthusiasm for as long as three seconds. That’s the point at which we remembered that we live at the bottom of a hill, and just walking to the post box is normally grounds for needing a lie-down. Nevertheless, we pressed on, and for our warm-up we walked briskly to the park. And by briskly, I simply mean that we walked very slowly indeed, but at least we didn’t stop to untangle ourselves from a dog lead, tie laces, argue, or do any of the other things that normally make up our daily outing.
Once at the park we were supposed to run for one minute, walk for one and a half minutes, then repeat the whole thing seven more times. Easy when you once ran for over thirteen miles, right? Er, no. Because I was a) years younger, b) stones lighter and c) minus two people whose sole purpose in life, is to moan until my remaining hairs turn grey.
The first couple of runs, surprisingly, were not too bad. It was halfway through the third that my lungs began to burn, and by the time we’d reached run number five, I had used up all my water because I was genuinely afraid that I might actually be on fire. All the while, I was shouting what I hoped were inspiring things to the girls. This is easier said than done, when all the breath in your body has made a bid for freedom, and what you say sounds completely distorted. Hence why my cheer of ‘keep going!’ sounded so much like ‘kill me now’. Or at least that’s what I told the girls afterwards.
During the final run, my ten-year-old decided to yell out something very encouraging as well. She shouted that she hated me and that I was trying to destroy her soul. It might seem odd that I would take that as a positive, but I was thrilled that at least she could pant in whole sentences.
But we got there in the end, and we were very pleased with ourselves afterwards. We did our stretches (which are surely God’s way of punishing people who exercise) and walked home, the girls laughing and arguing all the way over whether my face had turned purple, or was just a very deep shade of red.
I was happy to ignore this, smug in the knowledge that they were still unaware that Couch to 5km is a programme that goes on for weeks and weeks. But I thought I’d save that bit of information for when they’ll accept it best. I’ve decided I’ll whisper it to them when they’re asleep.
Bring on Bedtime!