March. Temperatures stop falling below zero, the days get considerably lighter and after a long winter we finally arrive at the promised land of beer garden weather. In March 2021, however, there was so much more to the third month of the year.
The 2020 edition was nothing short of a nightmare. The rapid spread of COVID-19 which resulted in nationwide lockdown on the March 23rd was a truly awful time. And I, for one did not see us still being here a year later, even if there were a few glimpses of freedom here and there.
Sadly that’s the way it goes, we don’t choose the hand we’re dealt and as tough as lockdown has been for us all it has proved effective. The successful vaccine rollout meaning there shouldn’t be a second anniversary in lockdown.
Although we’re not out of the woods yet there is plenty to be optimistic about which kept my mental health in check this past month.
PB’s and injuries
In six months time I will have crossed the finish line of the 2021 London Marathon and, hopefully, will have raised a lot of money for Mind. I’ve said before but running the iconic London event to the best of my ability and raising as much as possibly my priority for the year – training has gone up a level.
I’m currently running four times a week with a mix of easy, interval, tempo and long runs. Due to a mix of training, diet, deep breathing and cold showers I’ve picked up a number of personal bests. It’s definitely been the highlight of my training so far. Knocking almost three minutes off a 10k PB I held for close to five years is something I’m incredibly proud of and hopefully more will follow.
However, one thing a lot of people don’t know about regarding training for such endurance events is all the negatives. The list is almost endless, quite frankly. Loss of motivation, illness, fundraising difficulty due to lockdown. However, the biggest, most common issue is injury, which is something I experienced in March.
After picking up a 10k PB I took a few days rest before embarking on a half-marathon long run. I’ve run a fair few half-marathons over the years, including the Hackney half in 2019. I was approaching the 5k mark and my left calf was stiff and tight, effectively saying no, so I had to stop to avoid aggravating it further.
This was only a couple a weeks ago and although I have run since I haven’t quite got to the comfort zone of running a half-marathon, but I’m both hopeful and optimistic I’ll be able to in April. Thankfully this happened six months before the event instead of six days before.
Why I started drinking again
When the pubs closed in November I stopped drinking due to being in lockdown by myself. It’s a long story which I went into detail about in a blog post last month – Why I stopped drinking alcohol. But essentially I stopped drinking because I knew my mental health would benefit while there was no sign of good news.
In the post I said I would stay off the alcohol until the pubs reopen. Which for beer gardens in the UK is Monday April 12, with inside serving resuming in May. However, I decided to start drinking again in March.
After 132 days without drinking a bottle I had my first beer on St Paddy’s day while recording a podcast. I decided to start early for a simple reason. As previously mentioned I’ve done the entire pandemic and it’s lockdowns by myself, meaning I haven’t seen my friends in months.
With restrictions gradually lifted from now until the end of June I wanted to build up an alcohol tolerance after going without it for a while. I can’t think of much worse than waiting so long to do something social, only to have it ruined by being too drunk after the first beer.
Therefore I’ll crack open a cold one while recording a weekly podcast, on zoom calls with friends or any other form of digital socialising until it’s legal to meet friends again.
I was one of the people who was adamant that the first lockdown was about a month too late. I was also one of the people who still expected to go on a normal holiday by the end of the year. Instead I had to cancel all three and as we are all too aware of, we’re still in lockdown.
I found it was easy to let the emotion of spending a year of our lives this way take control. To think of all the things we missed out on when we had so little going on, especially when the lockdown anniversary was all over the news and daytime TV.
There seemed to be a reminder everywhere I looked, from empty stadiums on TV to boarded up shops on the high street – it was unavoidable.
For me the best way to handle all of this was to try and switch off. I walked and ran in areas where there are few shops and I didn’t watch as much live sports.
The biggest, most important thing I did in this time, was to look ahead at the road map to freedom which officially on March 29th.
Some sort of normality
I couldn’t wait to get my first piece of normality in 2021 at the end of March. I’ve been very proud of how I’ve cared for myself and my mental health during the pandemic, especially experiencing lockdown alone.
I’m one of the many people who took a day off on March 29th to play golf. The driving range and course was busier than I’d ever seen before but I didn’t care. I was so happy to be out there with a friend playing a sport I love.
There honestly aren’t many superlatives to describe how much fun I had, baring in mind I didn’t play well. I’m fairly new to golf, especially compared to how good a lot of my friends are. It’s definitely a hobby I want to get better at moving forward.
As the expression goes ‘you wait so long for something, and like London buses, two arrive at once’, well, that was the case here and on Tuesday March 30th I made my return to the football pitch.
I stopped playing Sunday league football many years ago now. The only occasions I dust off my boots is for 5-a-side or charity games, with the former being what we turned out for in a high scoring affair.
Now that we’ve had a few restrictions lifted I believe the rest of the road map will go quickly, especially with the warmer weather. The common gap between restrictions being lifted is five weeks. However, we only have to wait five more days for the next set when gyms, hairdressers and non-essential retail reopen – things are looking up – which will do my mental health the world of good.
2021 London Marathon
I’m running the 2021 London Marathon for Mind!
If you wish to donate or keep up to date with how my training and fundraising is going you can do so by following the links below.
Fundraising Page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JordanCamp
My new Instagram page dedicated to my London Marathon journey: @26.2MilesForMind
Mind Website: https://www.mind.org.uk