How we didn't run

“Shall we go for a run tonight?” my girlfriend texted me on the first of January, as she was returning by train from a New Year's Eve party in Prague. Aware that the date of our five-kilometer run was approaching, I wrote back a short and conciliatory, “We should.”

And indeed. At eight in the evening we set off. We hid our apartment keys in the mailbox and I tied my girlfriend's mailbox key to her sweatshirt. We turned on Strava and started running. Back at home, we agreed that I would run in my sweatshirt, which I would dump in the last trash can we passed on the trail. “It doesn't look good on you at all and I don't like it,” she said of it. Our time was lousy, but that didn't matter. Just before the front door, though, it suddenly dawned on me. We did have a key to the mailbox, but we didn't have a chip for the front door, which I had locked in the mailbox with the other keys. What now? We don't know many of the neighbors in the building, but the ones we tried to ring didn't answer. We lingered outside the house, waiting for anyone who might come in or out. But on the first day of January, the traffic outside our apartment building was too quiet. Sweaty and wearing only a T-shirt, I observed all four entrances. Fortunately, it was warm. After half an hour, the light in the hallway of the next entrance came on and a man came out with his dog. Smelly and half-naked, I ran up to him and explained our predicament. He didn't seem to believe me. Nevertheless, he saved us, opened the door and we could finally go home.

“Are you all right? I'm starting to worry I have covid. I have chills and after ten years I have made tea at my parents' house,” I write to a friend at the end of January. “I'm fine, I'm having a beer,” she reports happily. In the days that followed, my covid was confirmed and after a week we both had it. Exactly a year has passed since I had the idea of trying to complete a five-kilometre run together for the second time. Even though we were quarantined and couldn't run, we didn't cancel our plan. We just have the opportunity to train for a year longer.

I only run occasionally, I sweat and pant a lot and always walk part of the route. In the first 50 days of this year, I tried 13 times and covered 40 kilometers. I had one goal at the beginning of the year. I wanted to cover the five-kilometer distance in under forty minutes. Believe me, for someone who has never run before, that's a good feat. My best time today is just over 38 minutes. Every new record makes me happy, of course, but I try to focus on my heart rate. I often find that it jumps above 170 bpm, whereas for fat burning I should be 40 bpm lower.

However, it has almost no effect on weight. “You're gaining weight. Slowly but surely,” my friend stated as she examined the chart with the measurements. It's true that since September, when my weight was at its lowest, I've averaged a kilo and a half more. And that pisses me off.