As the restrictions of Lockdown 3.0 start to ease this week in England, it is so good to be able to run in groups again. I don’t think I’ll realise how much I’ve missed my running family until I see them at the track, on training runs and on my favourite run of the week – the Sunday, off-road run and chat.

And it’s that Sunday run I’m looking forward to the most – it’s in written in my diary with stars and squiggles around it. It’s the one where we put the world to rights, share problems and ridiculously funny (and sometimes completely inappropriate) stories. We don’t stick to an agreed pace and never leave a runner behind (at which point I usually say: ‘no trolls left behind’, which only the parents of younger children understood the first time I said it. The others looked at me blankly – and thinking about it now, were possibly offended.)   

Sometimes it ends in cake and coffee. Sometimes we have to rush off for family commitments. Often, it’s a mix of both. It always takes in some of the best countryside Leicestershire has to offer – and someone always says how lucky we are to be able to access it from our doorsteps. There’s usually a group selfie – or we ask some unsuspecting walker to take a group shot. Once we got photobombed by a very friendly black Labrador who want to introduce himself to us all individually.

If it’s a good day, it involves mud, fording over-flowing streams, lots of hills and tricky tracks through the woods. And views… lots of beautiful views and just that general feeling of well-being you can only get from running outside in the countryside.

The weather is usually irrelevant. We’ve ran in blazing hot sunshine where the only respite from the heat has been the narrow, root-strewn paths of the woods. We’ve ran in torrential rain, hail, sleet and on those drizzly days when the weather can’t seem to decide if it can be bothered to rain or not. And there was that one memorable run when it was below freezing and a mist had descended over the hills. The trees were covered in ice and we could barely see a few feet in front of us. It was so quiet we felt like we were the only people outside that day.

When we meet this weekend, we will all have had different experiences of lockdown. Some will be positive; some will have been really tough. We are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, daughters, sons. We work as teachers, creatives, for the NHS, in private companies and for charities. What we have in common is each other and our love of running (and lots of cake and chatting).

To everyone returning to running in groups – whether its with friends, colleagues or a running club – enjoy and happy running!