Having to shield as being extremely vulnerable to Covid at the start of the initial lockdown came as a bit of a blow to say the least.
I remember at the time thinking I have two options, I can either take it badly and get miserable and risk getting depressed or turn a negative into a positive which is something I always try and do and make a real effort to get fit.
I have always ran but am not built for speed and, following three lots of knee surgery, I am always just glad to be running - but I have always been chasing the exclusive Sub 30-minute 5K. I managed once at a Parkrun in 2018 before the New York Marathon, but since then it just hasn't happened.
For the first six weeks of Lockdown, I did not leave the house - I did my own HITT Sessions and Skipping, Kettlebells, etc. It then became a head game - I knew if I did not get out and run I was going to struggle, so I weighed up the risks physically vs my head and started running again - the same 5K route from home on my own which I knew was safe and I would not come across a lot of people. If I wanted a bit of excitement, I reversed my route!
Then in May 2020, I found Military in Motion and started doing the Morning Abs Sessions and the Intervals, 800 and 1500 Trooper Challenges - but the change really started during August's Trooper Games.
The 5K/10K challenges in the Autumn saw some definite gains in my running - my technique was improving and the support and camaraderie of my fellow Troopers and Dame Kelly was a great help.
Then in October I knew I needed to up my game if I wanted a real physical change. A couple of us committed to giving up chocolate and alcohol, initially for a month - that then was extended for the duration of the A-Z Challenge and it continued on a school night. I now rarely touch chocolate apart from my rest day on Saturday when eat/drink what you like and chill.
When the A-Z Challenge started in November, we would do the exercises together each morning on Zoom before work - this meant we could support and motivate each other before work, as well as have a chat and a bit of a social and this has continued during the 12 Days UNTIL Christmas Challenge, 12 Days OF Christmas Challenge, 30 Day ABS Programme and Extended ABS Programme.
I have also managed to get under the Sub 30 5K time and this is now quite a regular occurrence and I have now seen a dramatic change physically, to the point that I looked twice the other day in the mirror checking it was me!
My VO2Max has also gone from 38 to 46 - clearly demonstrating that a consistent approach to all the strength and conditioning and core training is really paying off and my cardio fitness is improving.
But, the real gain in all of this is not the physical change - it is the Trooper Community that has developed as a result. Trying to quantify this is difficult and contemplating what Lockdown would have been without it is not something I want to do!