Futile MasterChef and unlikely runner: my coronavirus lockdown crisis

I fear the coronavirus pandemic has triggered some form of  early ‘midlife’ crisis, at the tender age of 29.

I’m not sure why the lockdown has had such a profound effect. In many ways it’s my ideal lifestyle. Zero chance of a foreign holiday, no struggling to squeeze through obstacles at horrific softplay centres and generally limiting human contact gets a tick in my book.

But change me it has, and whenever it’s safe to return to the office, colleagues might not recognise me. And not just because I’m refusing to partake in a DIY haircut and growing a beard to rival Merlin’s.

I’ve taken up cooking, equipping myself with stupid little sauce pots – and pans reserved solely for frying eggs – in a fruitless attempt to become the next MasterChef. I’ve conjured up ‘gels’ and ‘jus’ and made stock from scratch, partly because it felt like my civic duty once I’d tracked down a whole, dead chicken. Aunt Bessie has been furloughed in favour of ‘proper’ roasties and I obtained enough flour on the black market to make scones on VE Day (a Mary Berry recipe, obviously).

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The picture is, however, far more alarming away from the pretentious plating. I’ve taken up running.

To paint the picture, the odds on me running pre-pandemic were slimmer than the chance of a Dominic Cummings resignation. My usual exercise routine consisted of a two-minute lunchtime walk to Greggs, or if feeling particularly outlandish a five-minute jaunt to the pasty shop at the far end of the high street.

Working from home put paid to that, while the back-up plan of keeping the weight off by allowing the toddler to jump repeatedly on my tummy seemed unlikely to bear fruit. So I went back to the drawing board and madly decided to start the Public Health England Couch to 5k programme. Find out more here but essentially it starts you off with small runs, spaced between brisk walks, gradually building up to 30 minutes’ running.

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The lockdown twist was that I did all the initial training indoors, running like a deranged lunatic between my sofa and conservatory, only once knocking over the toddler in the process. It was all in the name of charity, raising money for the NHS like a crap version of Captain Tom Moore – the only saving grace being I started first. See my fundraising page here.

By week six the luxury of recovery walks had vanished and Sarah Millican (my virtual celeb coach) was rather optimistically insisting on runs of 20 minutes without stopping, I headed into the outside world. The main difference I found between running indoors and outdoors was my trainer became  Michael Johnson to look a bit more macho.

I’ve racked up 28 miles of outdoor running in just a couple of weeks. To put that in perspective, that would allow me to jog from Worthing to Specsavers Bognor Regis, test my vision and return home, with a couple of miles in the tank to detour to a chosen local beauty spot. An odd concept, I know. Especially when I could just hop in the car with the family in tow and pop to Bramber Castle.

In reality, none of this running business is anything to do with making the most of a difficult situation; I’m just hoping to be able to run far enough away from home come October that no one will find me, should having two children become a bit too much.

That leads me on nicely to the incredibly out-of-date news that Headline Spews is effectively to become Headline ‘Twos’ later this year, as we’re to welcome a baby girl to our family.

While we were never bothered whether the new arrival was a boy or girl, it will be lovely to have one of each, perfectly completing our household.

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Our local council rewards parents who produce three children with a bigger refuse bin. A tempting offer, but ‘two and out’ is more than sufficient!

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