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Enjoying quarantine: something for those with more time on their hands, and something for those with kids

There are some of you who have found yourselves with more time on your hands than you had before Covid-19 emerged. According to the media, some of you are finding this to be a hellish experience.

As someone doing home quarantine with a high-energy 3-year-old and a 6-month-old, I find this difficult to imagine, but I thought I’d share two free courses that I would participate in if I were you:

Principles of Economics

This looks to be a super interesting introduction to the concepts that underpin the discipline of economics. It promises to expand our view of what economics is and how it touches broadly on decision making.

Find it here

The Science of Wellbeing

Offered by Yale University, and taught by Professor Laurie Santos, who also hosts The Happiness Lab podcast, this course in practical psychology is oriented toward teaching participants to understand their own brains and to think better.

Find it here

For those with kids, here are two free resources that I think are useful:

Elevenses with The World of David Walliams

David Walliams, the Little Britain comic turned children’s book author, is making a new audio story available each day at 11am (GMT). His narrations are hilarious.

Find them here

P.E. With Joe

Every morning at 9am (GMT), Joe Wicks leads a live P.E. class on YouTube for kids and their parents. From what I understand, a lot of primary schools in the UK are building this into their homeschooling schedules.

Find it here

A life online

Today our church met for the first time online. I don’t mean that we listened to a band, and then listened to a sermon as they appeared in a one-way ‘livestream.’

We met (via Zoom) and sang together, we learned a Jesus story, we discussed a Psalm, and we prayed together.

It wasn’t quite like being in the same room, and we are still learning what to do about the logistics, when to mute and when to unmute, but it was good.

Our church this morning

It was also my Mum’s 60th Birthday and so later in the day we had another Zoom call, together with my sister and brother in law, to sing her Happy Birthday and to watch her and my Dad eat some of her birthday cake.

This was more bittersweet since it is a big birthday which would usually be celebrated with family and friends, but the plans had to change because of new regulations and advice in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

All of the above makes me thankful for the infrastructure we already have in place to make this second best approach to connecting a possibility.

What no one will tell you about the Couch to 5K running plan

The wind in my hair. A smile on my face. It was so perfect. Legs supple and strong, covering kilometres effortlessly thanks to my newly developed running skills. Waking up each morning with the urge to JUST DO IT – to get out there and pound pavement – because I had broken through and was now more runner than walker. A natural athlete. Perfect.

At least that’s how I pictured my last week of the Couch to 5K program before I set out. The nine week program promises to take absolute beginners and get them to the point where they can comfortably run five kilometres (just over 3 miles).

After the birth of our daughter in December, and the accompanying sleepless nights (as well as a sleep-deprivation-induced chain of colds), I knew I needed to get fit if I was to be in good mental and physical shape for my new role as a Dad.

I had tried C25K several times before, but two years living in Amman, Jordan, a city built on seven mountains with summer time temperatures of around 40 degrees celsius and cultural associations between running and lack of honour meant that I had all but given up.

But now I was back in Sweden, with no such excuses. So in January I committed to follow the full nine week plan.

The first weeks of C25K are very pleasant. Week one you alternate between one minute of running and ninety seconds of walking for twenty minutes. Week two follows the same rhythm but with longer intervals, ninety seconds running and two minutes walking. By week five you are running for twenty minutes without stopping, and this gradually increases until by week nine you can run for thirty minutes (an average of 5km).

I liked this slow build up because it meant that by the time I was running for longer periods of time, my muscles were ready for it. I didn’t experience the aches and pains I used to when I would run 5km after a long period without running. I was happy because I felt like I was becoming stronger.

However, I still felt worn out after each run and wasn’t waking up with that “I can’t wait to go running today” feeling.

Nonetheless, I persisted – cheered on by the voice of Radio One DJ Jo Whiley, who has replaced the encouraging but slightly less motivating voice of Laura from the first release of the app.

“By week nine, I will definitely be addicted to running,” I assured myself.

But even with the elation of finishing the nine weeks, I finished my last run worn out and didn’t feel more athletic.

That’s when I started talking to the runners I knew who have run half marathons and more. I even spoke to one friend who runs ultra marathons.

What they told me was very helpful: “you become addicted to running somewhere around 10 kilometres.”

All this time, I’d been thinking that the Couch to 5K would get me to that natural born athlete zone, when I actually needed a lot more kilometres under my belt to reach this point!

So I carried on. I increased my running from 5km to 6km, then from 6km to 7km, and now I regularly run 10km, sometimes more. The best part of this is that when I started running 8km and more, I started to feel better when I ran than when I didn’t! I had discovered the tipping point!

(image by Hernán Piñera)