The current pandemic is ‘helping’ me focus on my goal 🏃♀️🏃♀️🏃♀️
I’m Rachel, an Account Executive at Experience Engine. Day-to-day, you’ll find me working on staffing, dealing with bookings, managing client expectations and obsessing over my stationery collection. I’m a self-confessed control freak and thrive on routine and organisation in all aspects of my life. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected since working at Experience Engine, as no two days are the same and you need to adapt to these changes as new tasks are thrown your way. As I’m sure you can imagine, the recent changes in the working environment and the world as a whole have been hard to accept, however I’m trying to take this in my stride in a few ways, one of which is exercise.
Before I started working with the company in June 2019, I had begun the Couch to 5k running plan, which is meant for beginners who have very little running experience or skill and builds you up towards the goal of running 5 kilometres. I thrive on challenges and like to compete with myself, so this seemed like a great way to start as I have never particularly excelled at or enjoyed running in general.
I began the plan in early 2019 and started off well, enjoying the challenge and reaping the psychological benefits too. I got myself into a routine (of course) of attending the gym 4 days a week after work and loved the control I had over the exercise, along with seeing progress. Unfortunately, as for many new runners, I suffered with something called shin splints, which is extreme pain in your shins caused by the new impact on your legs from the running. I took some time off the gym to recover and this coincided with me starting a new job at Experience Engine. Since my new office was in a different location, I cancelled my gym membership with the intention to join a gym closer to my new job.
As with any new job, there was a lot to learn at a very fast pace and I went home every evening happy but tired! I didn’t have as much motivation to join a new gym and used my injury as an excuse to continue with the ‘time off’. I should say I work in the perfect environment for success – my manager Charli is a runner, training towards running a marathon, and our MD Julie is extremely supportive of anything which positively impacts our wellbeing, so I had all the resources, time and encouragement available to help me, I simply needed the motivation to come from within.
After a personally difficult few months and a very indulgent Christmas, I finally joined the gym again in January and started the Couch to 5k plan again! As suspected, my colleagues were as supportive as possible and gave me a fantastic boost. Charli had also kindly gifted me a Yoga session pass for Christmas, which was fantastic and is something I have continued to enjoy, following some Yoga videos online from home.
I committed to attending the gym 3 times per week, which was going fantastically for the first 6 weeks; I was making great progress and feeling better in myself. Then… Coronavirus hit us and we were eventually instructed to work from home, swiftly followed by the closure of gyms and other establishments. The Government guidance did, however, allow for exercise once per day, along with the ability to exercise at home, of course. I should say, I have always very much disliked running outdoors and much prefer the gym treadmills, so this was a challenge for me to adapt. My control-freak nature rejects change, however, I needed to find the motivation to stick with it and not let my progress go to waste.
I am so thankful for my colleagues; we support each other, provide encouragement, share ideas and always motivate each other to be the best we can be. Whilst the in-person support was not available, we have continued to catch up with each other and provide this support via messages, phone calls and video calls during this unprecedented time apart. I knew that I couldn’t give up on how far I had come, so I laced up my trainers and plucked up the courage and motivation to run outdoors. Who would have thought, it really wasn’t that bad! I can’t promise to continue running outdoors after all of this, as the gym will be calling my name, but I’ve found a way to make it work in the meantime and I’m happy about that. I have worked out a schedule of which days to run and stuck to it so far.
I’ve also found new ways of working out, along with the rest of the world, through the use of the abundance of home workout videos online! Who knew there were such incredible online resources to aid in-home exercise? I must admit, I always thought of the gym as the only option but this situation has opened my eyes to the alternatives, which I can confidently say that I will be continuing with in the future. Additionally, who expected Joe Wicks’ PE to be so difficult? Definitely not me! As it was intended for children, I expected it to be a breeze, however, I’ve quickly learned that children are clearly a lot more capable than I thought, especially given that I could barely walk for 2 days after I tried his first session.
The psychological benefits of exercise are undeniable – I feel more confident, have more energy and I still feel in control, which is important to me. The buzz after running and achieving your goal (even outdoors!) is unparalleled and I’m proud that I’ve managed to adapt and find a way to continue working on my fitness, not using this situation as an excuse to stop. Now, I can’t promise that I’ll suddenly take up baking, learn a new language or skill during this time, but if I can continue the progress I was making before and learn new ways to make exercise work for me at home, I’m happy with that.