It’s been three years since I was last able to run… or walk, or leave the house.

Saturday 2nd May 2020 was the last time I went for a run according to my phone app. In Strava, I gave my run the title of “a pretend parkrun.” I had run 5k along my local Parkrun course starting at exactly 9am on that Saturday morning. I guess it must have been during lockdown when Parkrun was on long-term hiatus.

A few of the previous runs to this one have titles like “First run since being ill” or “abandoned long run” or “struggling to breathe”. I had come down with an illness in March which my other half thought was coronavirus but, given my penchant for not wanting to makes a fuss, I wondered if it wasn’t just flu. I remember desperately wanting to build back up to my previous running standard. Such things are important back then. I had recently completed my first half marathon and had booked to do another half as well as a full marathon. I didn’t want to lose sight of my schedule.

I remember distinctly come to a stop on a street corner in the quiet lockdown atmosphere of the time, clutching my chest and wheezing. I couldn’t run any more. I had to walk home. I didn’t understand it. I was capable of far longer runs than this mere 7km. Of course, in retrospect, it is perfectly clear what it was.

I had caught covid and it had damaged my body and I needed to stop and recover. Maybe I shouldn’t have started running again for months, or even a year, but the mind doesn’t want to admit defeat. I was too proud and didn’t want to be the sort of person who gave up. I wanted to push through. I wanted to take it on the chin. I wanted a myriad of other clichés about being strong.

After this run on the Saturday 2nd May 2020, I never ran again. I relapsed into another bout of flu-like illness which I am still yet to recover from three years later. I am 46. I am housebound, I have been forced to retire from my job and I spend most of every day lying down in bed. I have a whole drawer of running accoutrements that haven’t been used for three years including a waterproof jacket and a 2020 Brighton Marathon t-shirt that I never got to use. But at least I can think and write now. For the first six months or so of being ill I couldn’t even watch a TV show. It was too much. I couldn’t understand it and it hurt to think about. But more on that next time. I think this is all I have the energy to write today.

I’ve just looked out the window to see the Parkrunners set off as if the pandemic never happened. The World Healh Organisation recently said it was all over. But, for me, lockdown never really ended. So, I thought I’d better start talking about it even though I don’t like to.

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