Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Dave Sinclair

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from running wizard Dave Sinclair. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

On the face of it running might look like a “nice to have”, but running is much more than that for many of the people I run with – and for me. It’s a social life, a way of managing day to day stress, a way of keeping healthy and fit, a way of coping when things aren’t going so well, and a way of seeing beautiful scenery.

I moved house, went on holiday to celebrate my birthday, came home and BAM! LOCKDOWN!

Or that’s what it felt like anyway.

Moti Running club (pre lockdown!)

I was very lucky to get in my new place just before lockdown – there’s no damp on the walls here and I have a view, which is handy during lockdown. It was a close call getting the move done in time.

Lockdown is a mixed bag for me. On the positive side, I don’t miss queues of traffic on the A470, the car park being full already when I get to work, or the incessant noise and intrusiveness of cars every time you go anywhere.

I’m really enjoying hearing the birds singing.

Without the commute I’m enjoying that extra time to chill or to exercise more, I eat better because I have to organise food shopping more efficiently and I am sleeping as long as I ought to be but never did before.

On the other hand, so much of what I usually do is based around being with people, and I love that aspect of my work. I miss that a lot.

Most of all I miss coaching my run club, Moti Cardiff, based out of the Moti store on Albany Road. And I miss parkun!!! I’d hoped to reach my 200th parkrun this year but no chance now

I miss our Moti Running Club post-run visits to the Pear Tree pub on Wellfield Road for my hot chocolate – extra hot please! I hope the team at the pub who looked after us so well every week are all doing ok.

Post Moti-running-club session at the pub!

Along with a great bunch of people I also help organise CDF Runners, a run club based in town, and a regular series of runs called The Big Social Run Cardiff. All of this stuff is based around spending time with people. Great people.

CDF Runners pre lockdown

We run, we have a laugh, we chat, we eat cake and we support each other on our personal running journeys. This crisis has knocked most of that on the head, but not all of it…

Leading a club, helping organise events, and supporting club members – it gives me a sense of worth and value in life, it’s something I personally care about, outside of my day to day job. And running with other people is really central to that.

We are lucky that we are still able to run solo and get our endorphin fix – it’s more important now than ever. Friends in Spain have only just been able to exercise outside after 50 days of proper lockdown.

Like most of the many great running clubs in Cardiff and further afield we haven’t let lockdown curtail our sense of community.
We have weekly Zoom calls, quizzes, a virtual relay and other fun running activities, and we share pictures of our runs to encourage and support each other. Club committees are doing a lot of work in the background to keep supporting their members through this really difficult time.

Club Zoom get-together

Running is really important for good mental health and a campaign that really highlights this is Miles for Mind.

Runners dedicate the miles they run or walk during May to the campaign and raise money for Mind, which does such amazing good work around supporting people and their mental health. It’s an incentive for the runners and helps with that feeling of being part of a team and a community. I’ve signed up again this year and love doing it with team mates.

All of this virtual socialising is particularly important for me because I live on my own – it’s just me and Lola, my amazing dog. I’ll be honest – I LOVE living on my own, but that’s based largely around being able to go out and see friends whenever I want to, and now I can’t. So those calls and team activities mean a lot to me.

Dave and Lola the dog

I’m grateful for still being employed and I work from home. I work for the University of South Wales as an Equality and Diversity Adviser, and we’re still extremely busy. We’re currently working on marking IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia) (17 May) and Refugee week (15-21 June).

Equality matters just as much during a crisis, if not more so. We’ve seen incidents of domestic violence rise significantly during lockdown, and we can see from many reports that the virus affects marginalised communities significantly.

People can feel even more isolated if they don’t feel they have their usual supportive communities and friends because of lockdown, and many people are forced to cohabit with unsupportive housemates or family. Everyone finds this situation difficult, but for some this is even more profound. In amongst all this there is incredible community spirit, most evident in the many local COVID-19 support networks that have sprung up.

I love seeing the regular updates from my friend Moseem, who helps organise the Cardiff Muslim Volunteers group, offering practical support and supplies to anyone in the community – the elderly, low income families, and those isolating. He’s going out of his way to help others and does it with a smile on his face the whole time. He is one of many.

For me personally, I’m coping well – I think! I knew early on that I might start over worrying about things.

I used to be someone that was totally news and media obsessed. Now, I don’t listen to the news throughout the day, I have removed news apps from my phone, I have limited social media, and I only catching up on events first thing before work – online, and from a reputable source.

I find this way that I can digest the news throughout the day in time to relax in my spare time rather than be anxious and find my sleep affected.

I’m lucky enough to enjoy running on my own. My training has actually upped a level since lockdown and I’ve also got myself a turbo trainer for indoor cycling so I’m doing something six days a week now. I like nothing more than running trails and it is amazing how many there are close to us in Cardiff. It’s easy to find quiet places if you try – sometimes the concrete jungle is the way to go because people aren’t over-crowding those areas!

There’s a lot of social media about inconsiderate runners and cyclists, but we could really do without this divisive talk. What we do have is considerate and inconsiderate people, whether they are cyclists, runners, or walkers.

In this time of limited social contact it lifts my spirits when someone steps aside and waves you through or when they thank you for doing the same for them. Little things. A thumbs up from another runner or walker. A friendly smile. Be nice to people. Be the person you want others to be.

I think it’s going to be a long time before we get anywhere near back to normal, and that does seem a daunting thought.

But it’s important to take it a week at a time, a month at a time. I would rather return to normality when it’s safe than too soon so I do have worries about the forthcoming relaxation of measures. Already, today being 7th May, the roads are far busier, but I’m not sure why.

My thoughts really do go out to those who are going through extreme hardship through this, and for those who have lost people. I just hope that the displays of community spirit, solidarity, and appreciation of local business and the actual important people that keep the country going stay after lockdown and don’t just dissipate

Likewise, we are seeing many other European cities rethink their infrastructure to make them centre around people, and not cars, and wouldn’t it be fantastic if Cardiff could lead the way on this in the UK?

Dave Sinclair is originally a Newportonian, living in Cardiff now for about eight years. He works at University of South Wales as an Equality adviser and lives with his dog Lola. He leads Moti’s Run Club in Roath and is one of the founding members of The Big Social Run Cardiff. He organised the first LGBT Pride Cymru run in 2019 and was Welsh Athletics / Run Wales Group Leader of the Year 2019. 

Follow Dave on Twitter @cardiff_dave or Instagram @cardiff_dave.

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