The Homecoming List

Arriving home from a run, I unlock the back door, step into the kitchen and find myself faced by a marauding list of things to do. Life used to be so easy when I was irresponsible – I could pay the price later but these days …

I’m stood in sweaty kit that I want to get off because, well, who wants to stand in sweaty kit?

I particularly want to get my bandana off because it gets cold and damp quickly. I want to put it on the hallway radiator but I’m in the wrong part of the house and I’m wearing my shoes.

So my shoes need to be taken off (particularly if they’re muddy) but I also want to get my heart-rate monitor off.

I need to take my heart-rate monitor strap off but … if I wait a few seconds more … it’ll pop up a Heart rate recovery stat indicating how much heart-rate has dropped since I stopped running two minutes ago.

But once I’m thinking about my heart-rate and watch, I want to look at the splits from my run. I barely glance at the watch while I’m running, so arriving home is the first opportunity to get a good look at the numbers and … feel pleased or start rationalising.

I want a cup of tea. This one’s easily solved by flicking on the kettle. Unless of course, I forgot to fill it before going out and then I’m going to have to step across the kitchen in wet shoes.

Now drips of sweat are beginning to form. Previously they’ve been evaporating as I run, now I’m stationary they’re building up on me. I need to get to the towel I’ve left in the dining room but to get there I need to have taken off my shoes. Sometimes I’m still aching from the run and don’t feel ready or able to bend down and unlace my shoes. I got out of the habit of kicking my shoes off when I was about twelve. This is the downside of becoming responsible, growing up and doing things properly.

And then there’s nutrition. I should be eating something in the first few minutes after I arrive home, shouldn’t I?  The first hour is the best time to reload the carbs and nutrients into the muscles. Miss that window and it impacts future workouts.

How did life get so complex? This is nothing like it used to be. Finish playing football, shake hands with the opposition then straight to the changing rooms to shower in the sports centre. Stick the sweaty kit in the backpack – maybe leave it there overnight by accident. Shower, change, walk back to the office and start sweating again. Pop to the shop and buy a bottle of Lucozade and a couple of packs of crisps to go with my sandwiches. Get back on with work.

My downstairs tasks are done. I need to get upstairs, get the sweaty kit off.

Take the heart-rate strap and put it in the bathroom sink for a quick soak. Maybe put the bandana in there too. While the sink is filling with water, I’ve just time to open up my laptop to leave my watch uploading to Garmin. Maybe also time to get the soggiest kit off.

But I also need to make sure I remember about the heart-rate strap. One afternoon, I came upstairs after sitting in the sun for hours and heard a curious noise. I couldn’t place it, it was unfamiliar. Walking into the bathroom, I discovered to my horror the tap on and the sink was full. Fortunately I’d left it filling slowly enough that the water was trickling out of the basin overflow. Phew!

The Critical Path Analysis skills from my project management days have me flitting from one task to the next. Many is the occasion when I’ve done an upstairs task and gone down to the kitchen to find a teabag stewing in the cup. In the 1-2 minute window between filling the cup and waiting for the teabag to brew, I’d thought there was enough time to ‘pop upstairs’ and do something else. But then a variation of Doorway Effect kicked in and, once elsewhere, I’d forgotten the teabag was steeping.

It’s still too soon to shower or wash if I’m sweating. Got to wait for the body to cool down and get back to a calm level. So much for the warmdown jog at the end of my run.

So while I wait, maybe I’ve got time to write some notes on my Garmin upload. Copy them to Strava – think of what to say about the session, make separate notes in my spreadsheet and training log. And that’s before I get out around to any kind of analysis or comparison to previous sessions.

Once I’ve logged into Garmin and Strava I’ll want to see how everybody else’s runs have gone, so there’s another time sink. Maybe I should nip downstairs first and get that cup of tea, grab a banana or bagel to put some immediate nutrition in. I might even risk putting on lunch but must remember to set the timer so there’s no chance of it boiling over while I’m upstairs.

If shoes are wet they need to be stuffed with newspaper and put by the radiator. That’s a job I can do while I wait for the second teabag in my fresh cup of tea to brew. All of this with no stretching or foam rolling in sight! That’s one thing never making my list.

Finally most of the jobs are done. I’ve got my cuppa, I’ve munched on a snack and it’s time to wash or shower and get some clean clothes on.

A few days ago I found a way to make it all seem easier. I stood outside my house when I arrived home. I didn’t go straight into the house but instead took a minute or two to look around and enjoy the quiet. I was able to take my headband off. Wait for the watch to ping up its recovery stat thing, take a look at the splits from my run and generally recompose myself before getting indoors. The extra minutes made all the difference and had eliminated some of the tasks I’d taken to fretting over.

It was like the days when I played football, volleyball or any other sport. We used to shake hands, walk off the pitch in a wearisome way and amble back to the changing rooms. Sometimes we would even stretch before we left the arena. But it was always much less hurried. Deliberately so.

Just don’t ask me about the days when I come home desperate for the toilet!

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