14-21 November 2014
So this is my first installment in my getting-fit adventures, which I introduced last week. Since then, I have been to the gym once and been jogging twice. This may not sound like a lot- even my Couch 2 5K app suggests 3 runs per week- but I can only go jogging at the weekend/when I work from home.
I work in Hertfordshire, which is 2.5 hours away from where I live; it’s dark when I leave in the morning and it’s dark by the time I get home. Since I live in the Kent countryside, the roads have no paths, no lights and many blind bends. Running before or after work is therefore out of the question. Thankfully, I work from home at least a couple of times a week. The gym is 15 mins drive from my house and I can’t afford to go regularly but I can fit some runs in on my lunch-breaks; it’s too dark when I finish work and I’m not yet at the stage where I’m prepared to get out of bed before I actually have to.
Last Friday, I cracked out my C25K app, set it to level 4- which I have been stuck on for months, having not kept to their recommended time frame- and went interval training: 3 minutes running, 1.5 minutes walking, 5 minutes running and 2.5 minutes walking, done twice. Not much to report on that really- I just about managed it.
Saturday was gym day and I did my same-old-same-old routine: 30 minutes on the cross trainer, 20 minutes on the bike and 10 minutes on the wave machine. I tend to stick to cardio for the sole reason that I have no idea how to use any of the weight machines and I know I’ll look moronic as I try and work it out. When I had my induction I was too young to use them and I don’t use the gym enough to make another induction a worthwhile investment. As I stood on the wave machine, I saw someone using one of the machines that works the arms. My arms have limited muscle so I thought I’d give it a go. By the time I sat down on it, I’d forgotten what she’d been doing but I gave it a go. For about 30 seconds. It hurt. In fact, four days later it still hurt. Embarrassed, I looked at my phone and faked-realised-how-late-it-had-got and left.
On Monday, I ended up discussing fitness with my boss on our way to the station, including the benefits of interval training. She suggested that I tried alternating sprinting with walking or a slow jog, “keep your body guessing” she said. On my way home, I picked up a diary to dedicate to keeping track of my food intake and exercise. I know this isn’t exactly living on a budget but I love stationery so figured it could act as some motivation. It was, however, on sale and had a picture of the London Underground map on it. That’s kind of relevant- it’s travel-y and all.
I was working from home Tuesday and used my lunch break to try out doing some sprints. I was far from in the mood but I had four things motivating me: my future-5K buddy who was much more on it than me, my desire to actually do the run itself, my new notebook and, last but not least, you guys. Oh and that whole keeping fit thing, etcetc. I got a great response from my article last week and I didn’t want to have nothing to post this week. No pressure but if you lose interest then I may well too!
I set my app back to level one: 1 minute running and 1.5 minutes walking, done eight times. As I realised- in the first 20 seconds- that this was not going to be easy, I reasoned that I could just jog on my fourth and eighth run but I tried to persevere. I focussed on my breathing as I ran and on trying to keep a firm footing on the slippery road. Admittedly, there were a few intervals as I stopped to clutch my aching chest, dodge cars, detach myself from brambles and take photos of the autumn countryside.
As I got to sprint six, I thought I could jog from now on; if not, I was in risk of collapsing into the stingy nettle-ridden ditch. Then the rain started, like a punishment for thinking it. I figured that was the motivation I needed- it wasn’t. I just chose getting wet instead. The sky was a mixture of dark rain clouds and bright sunlight seeping through the blue patches.
I looked around, searching for a rainbow, like the last time I got rained on whilst running, but there was nothing. I turned back and could just about make out the faintest colours, arching over the road in front of me and ending on the side of the road. As I ran toward it, it disappeared. I reached some tree cover and it suddenly felt like I was back in the rainforest. I could hear the raindrops hitting the leaves before falling heavily onto my nose and the smell of wet foliage filled the air. As I emerged, it then felt like looking at the rice fields of Vietnam- with acres of long green grass stretching before me.
That was where my exercise for the week ended. I was meant to go swimming with my friend Wednesday night but instead just watched The Apprentice on my sofa. I also planned for go for a run on Friday’s lunch break but didn’t have time. Still, I don’t think I’ve done too badly on week one.
Now time to move onto food. I know I don’t always eat healthily but seeing it written down in black and white did make me want to get better. Over the weekend, I racked up bags of crisps, pizza and curry, complete with many a poppadom and steak and chips with lashings on mayonnaise. That was in addition to bananas, apples, biscuits, hummus and breadsticks.
As the work week started, I felt pretty stodgy on Monday morning, although that didn’t stop me from adding cheese to my tuna and chilli salad. The next time I cracked this out, I swapped cheese for gerkin and my leftover onion and garlic sauce. I generally take salads with me to work but when I’m at home I mix it up with something like smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast. My breakfasts mainly revolve around porridge with honey or gluten-free cereal. I was on a gluten-free kick for a while to see if it made a difference. It didn’t make enough of one for it to be worth it but I liked my new cereal so that has stuck. My main work downfall is biscuits- we always have an ongoing pack in the office to accompany our vast quantities of tea. I’m not going to get into drinks, mainly because there’s not going to be enough time or space to list the amount of caffeine and orange juice I get through on a daily basis. I know that’s not great but at least I stay away from fizzy drinks.