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Paul Strickland
Paul Strickland

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

January – a difficult month

As the month comes to a close, I've been thinking back on this first month of the year. I can't say it's been a good month, but it hasn't been particularly bad either. I think the best way I can describe it is that it never got going properly.

By the end of 2020 there was quite a lot of optimism about what the new year would bring, but I was keen to keep a more level (and pessimistic) head.

Unconventional start

2021 didn't exactly start the way I expected. As usual, I stayed with my family over Christmas. I usually come back home around about the new year. I was already planning to travel later than that, mainly to avoid a busy journey as everyone returned home and to work. What I did not expect by that point was for the country to have yet another lockdown imposed upon it. All this led to me staying an extra week with my parents. Although I was nominally working from there, the change from being on holiday to being at work was not as pronounced as it would have been if I had gone back home. This made it difficult to adjust when I did eventually make it home later in the month.

The actual reality of the third lockdown still has had little obvious impact on my daily life. Since March 2020 I've tended to stay at home, run daily and shop weekly. And this routine continued regardless of whether I was living in a lockdown, in a strange "return to work or be sacked/go out and eat" relaxation, or in some variant of tiered restrictions. Still, there is a definite sense of fatigue with the pandemic occupying aspects of every waking moment, and coupled with the general of gloominess of January anyway, this led to a very low level of motivation.

Also emerging from (or even precipitated by) lockdown was an unexpected development in my personal life. Unfortunately this happened during lockdown, and so I found myself in a most peculiar limbo as I returned home.

Slow start

After a protracted 3-week stay away from home, returning back to my normal life was very difficult. It's not that I minded it so much, but trying to adjust was hard work. Suddenly I had to do things like think about what to eat, fit running back into my day and other mundane things like laundry.

Topping all this off, work has been quiet, so there wasn't a lot of useful distraction there. It's not uncommon for our work to move through cycles of quiet, but the culmination of a quiet period with this strange January was certainly not helpful.

On the other hand

It can feel as if everything is bad, but there is usually another side to consider, and this situation is no different.

I didn't run over Christmas, but as soon as I was home I started again. It was quite hard work as expected, but also felt completely natural to be running again each morning. And although I had lost a bit of fitness, this came back quickly and I feel like I benefited from the rest overall.

Also part of my return to running has been a return to trail running. At some point last year I switched to road running and that was a fine routine, but my long runs in January have been off-road and I've really enjoyed the change. Whereas running on the road allows you to zone out and enjoy the repetitive plodding nature of running, trail running demands your attention with every step.

Finally, with the return to running and fitness, I've also restarted some strength work. This is definitely necessary as I can already feel some weakness in one side of my body, and the risk of injury is not something I want to ignore.

I'm publishing this as part of 100 Days to Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting

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