For the past 23 years, I’ve pretty much tried to avoid exercise wherever possible. The most exercise I generally get is beating exercise away with a stick. However, I have dabbled. As a kid I tried swimming, netball, tennis, badminton and judo but nothing really stuck. Later in life, I mixed things up with wing chun and yoga but still no luck. Then there’s the ongoing attempt at getting a gym-routine going.
During my last year of university, my house suddenly got a fitness kick. One of my housemates got into it in a big, big way and it rubbed off on the rest of us, a bit. We all started interval training. In Nottingham, we lived next to Wollaton deer park with the beautiful Wollaton Hall on it so we had somewhere to run that motivated us. At one point a deer even ran alongside me. Briefly. Shockingly, it still didn’t last. Then I went through a break-up just before my final exams and I needed a distraction from that and from my piles of revision. The endorphins also helped and I actually got into a routine of interval training- for a while.
When I left university and moved back home to Kent, the interval training stopped. I live in the middle of the countryside and have convinced myself that it is too dangerous to run on these backroads. There’s no path, cars come flying round the corners, the roads are rather narrow and there’s potholes everywhere. You could easily break your ankle. After 17 years of living here, this year I thought it was time to finally give it a go. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps after my postgraduate course finished and started a new job which often involved working from home. At one point, I went into the office on Monday and then didn’t leave the house again until Friday. Going jogging gave me an excuse to get out of the house.
Over the summer, running in the Kent countryside was actually nice. I always knew it was a lovely part of the country to live in but now I really felt lucky to live here, in amongst the sprawling fields. This meant I spent most of my time jogging taking pictures to later upload to Instagram. When I went to my usually family retreat of Southwold in Suffolk, I realised running on the promenade, alongside the sea, was pretty nice too.
Now that winter is here and I’m spending more days in the office, my enthusiasm is flagging. It’s cold, it’s darker and I keep getting rained on. However, I agreed to do a 5km with my friend next summer- that may not sound like a lot but for me it might as well be Everest- and she has thrown herself into getting fit. So now it’s my turn; I have to find my rhythm.
That’s where you come in. I figure if I blog about it then I a) get content to post on here, and b) have the guilt of knowing that you guys will be on tenterhooks for my next post.
Initially I was going to call this post (hopefully series) ‘getting the perfect beach body’ and then immediately putting in a disclaimer to say I don’t actually feel the need to get beach-ready, I just need a tenuous link to travel in order to write about this on my blog. Then I realised that being fit is pretty handy for travel. You don’t have to at the peak of physical fitness to travel but chances are, particularly if you’re on a budget, you are going to be trekking across cities, potentially in blistering heat, in order to avoid paying for public transport. You might be hiking up mountains or through the jungle or up a set of stairs to get into a cave set in a rock face. You might have to swim, cycle or even run to catch a bus or a train.
When I was 15, I got dragged down a ridiculously sleep slope in the Honduran rainforest on a conservation mission. After a long descent, we found out we had gone the wrong way and didn’t need to have climbed down the hill. We then had to walk back up it. Our group split into two- one for those who could do it with less effort and those who could not. I was in the latter. A few days later, we had the option of trekking to a camp deeper in the forest. After the hill-fail, I decided not to, I didn’t think I could face it. That is a decision I regret now, even though it would have been a tough hike, I should have taken the opportunity.
Since I can’t run down the road without getting a stitch, I have been using the app ‘Couch 2 5K’ in order to start interval training. It’s meant to be better for you anyway. I think that’s because when you do run you have the energy to go faster so you get your heart rate going more. The basic idea of the app is that you go out three times a week and alternate between running and walking for 30 minutes. Each week you run more and walk less and eventually you’ll be able to run 5k. If you feel like you’re progressing too slowly then you can skip a stage, if you feel like you need longer- or like me take an interval of a few weeks- then you can spend more time on a level.
When I started doing it for the second time, I’d add a sprint onto the end of my run if I felt like I hadn’t done enough. The problem with this is that I would look like Phoebe-from-Friends running when I sprinted. To avoid looking like that in public, I would use a one-car road next to my house that barely gets used. However, the last time I did it, I finished and turned to find a convertible stuck behind me, with three people looking at me as though I was mad. Now if I feel I need more of a workout I just run normally a bit more.
This is officially going to be the start of me getting fit. Each week, I’ll post about the exercise I’ve done, with a basic summary of the food diary I’m going to try and keep. I can say now that pizza and takeaway Chinese food will still be appearing on it. I can say that with surety because I have just eaten an entire chicken pizza, covered in bbq sauce. I went for a run today so it’s fine.