I’m one of the many runners who won’t be taking part in today’s London Marathon – but that’s for the simple and shockingly straightforward reason that I haven’t entered it!
Consider then, the poor individuals who have – but who’ve had to pull out through injury or illness.
One of my former work colleagues says on FaceBook he’s “gutted” he’s had to sit this one out, but urges other runners “have a great race and soak up the atmosphere”.
But the good news – for those who got in via the ballot – is if you had to withdraw your entry through illness or injury the organisers say they will guarantee you an entry for the 2018 event – as long as you follow these guidelines, that is!
Now if you look at the date my last blog post you’ll see I’m guilty of a lack of blogging activity!
My observations would simply be that if you don’t really like exercise then it’s hardly going to be a regular part of your life (just like the “strict diet” we’ve all announced we’re going on at some stage and which usually lasts the best part of one morning).
We are told two million Brits are apparently not meeting government targets of how physically active we should be.
Government targets? Yes, apparently they do exist for fitness. (Take a look at the NHS-recommended ones here.)
The idea of the government telling us to get fit and healthy (almost Orwellian!) – once inspired me to write an article for BBC News on how MPs get fit. Do they practice what their employers preach?
Of course I’m going to come back to why it’s women who are taking significantly less exercise.
I don’t see a marked lack of females when I do my Guerrilla training. If anything the men are outnumbered, especially in the morning classes and at weekends.
So what’s happening?
After all, this report has highlighted the fact that even “active” people are at risk if they don’t do vigorous exercise.
Now while I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually enjoys doing things like star jumps and burpees – it’s stuff like that that can really make the difference – and, as many women will testify, gives them more body confidence when they hit the town or get into their bikinis!
Of course it goes beyond worrying about your appearance – Thank God – and I’d like to think we’re past the idea of exercise being unladylike or unfeminine.
Women’s sport is getting more coverage – just look at the Oxford/Cambridge boat race coverage at the weekend.
But then I’m looking more at exercise being a lifestyle thing rather than something competitive.
Adele’s gone on the record saying she hates exercise.
And speaking as somebody who heartily loathed P.E. and sports days at school, I don’t think anybody should be forced into it.
So I’m wondering – could this element of feeling one is being coerced be the reason one GP-referral programme of council-funded fitness classes was recently axed?
A long, long time ago I used to dread Thursday nights at the gym.
Because that was Boring Couples night.
The protagonists would dress up in gym gear (so far so good) – and sometimes they’d even use the equipment! But most of the time they’d just sit on it chatting.
The whole impression was that of a Cocktail Hour in Lycra.
Had any one of these wretched single units that comprised the whole entity of the Thursday night invasion at any one point thought for itself and formulated the dreaded New Year Resolution?
I’ll never know. But I’m pretty sure that now, yes right now* – years later at the very start of 2017 – gyms, keep-fit classes and the like across the UK will be simply bulging with the predictable influx of people who simply wouldn’t be interested at any other time.
I am fully expecting to be struck down in the most Karma-like way imaginable for what I’m about to say next.
But in January my aim is always to avoid these New Year Resolution types if at all possible – if only to protect my sanity.
Anyone who reads this blog knows fitness is one of my coping strategies, a way of controlling the bits of my body I’m no so keen on.
And those wobbly bits need tackling 365 days a year – they don’t just suddenly appear on New Year’s Day like a late delivery from Santa!Imagine then, what it’s like to suddenly have to compete for time/space in what’s often a very personal fight.
So let’s say you do normally do an evening class and you rock up as usual….
Welllll, in January suddenly you can’t because it’s full – OR you’ve wised-up to the fact that too many sets of flailing arms in a limited space where you’re all holding hand-weights is just a tad dangerous.
(Trust me I have experience of both – and I hope the latter stays back in the nineties!)
As already said, I expect to be sent blazing to Hell for my arguably uncharitable opinions regarding what almost feels like a fight for territory but if YOU exercise regularly here are some tips to handle the New Year Resolution brigade:
And then there’s Men’s Health’s Crowded Gym Survival Guide – maybe a bit more brutal than I’d be but then hey, I’m not a body-builder…
I have no problems with anyone wanting to get fit (and I’m pretty sure the vast majority are not stereotypical pains-in-the-backside) but, when it’s a significant amount of people at the same time, then – well, I’m just going to have to shut up, aren’t I?!
Remember that, for most, the keep fit good intentions are as seasonal – and as short-lived, as the Festive Period itself
Plan around it – go to the earlier, less popular classes. Do more solo running
Be philosophical – it’s not that bad
Remember the reason I started this blog in the first place – I broke my foot. It’s mended!
For any people trying to avoid the gym hoards in the Bronx, NY, there’s GoJimgo on Twitter – which states: “Know before you go. We tell you how many machines are available at your gym. In real time.”
I’d love to know if this can work in practice – or in the UK!
I can’t say my Hanley Park Run antics today were in any way worthy of the Halloween theme – unless you count the most tenuous of links with the urge to throw up.
Pushing myself running tends to push certain bodily functions into the equation but thankfully that didn’t happen and another Personal Best was achieved!
The nausea kicked in after one zealously-tackled hill and again after finishing (I always feel compelled to redeem my slow self with a sprint at the end).
The Park Run I go to deploys pacers on the last Saturday of every month – so I’d got in the mind-set of following one.
Alas, there were none in my exact target range! (Though that’s a future plan..)
So I picked a trio of women from Stoke F.I.T. (Friends In Training) who did finish about 45 seconds ahead of me in the end.
Two of them kept up a steady babble of conversation which, when I was close enough to hear it, I tried to use to take my mind off my exertions!
We were overtaken by a family in fancy dress – now being overtaken always feels crap anyway, but when they’re in fancy dress?
A former colleague remembers the humiliation of being overtaken by Batman in the London Marathon and I myself have been bettered by Mr Potato Head in the Robin Hood Half in Nottingham, a race in which Scooby Doo regularly provides an indicator as to when it’s time to dig deep!
Back to Park Run and I watched the receding skeleton wings on the boy, with dad in a cloak – I also knew he was wearing a mask (reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s “Scream”) which made him sound like he was talking through a snorkel when, previously, he loomed behind us en famille
I had some hunch I’d done a good time when one of the organisers at the finish shouted “C’mon Emma?” – and looked a bit surprised to see me.
My Guerrilla training has contributed not only to a couple of personal bests in the last few weeks but also knocking a good couple of minutes off my previous time, so it would appear I have discovered the alchemy necessary to produce Personal Best “gold”.
I caught up with the Stoke F.I.T. trio and said I’d used them as pacemakers, hoped they didn’t mind and thanked them.
I felt I’d somehow “gate-crashed” their run but Laura, the first woman I spoke to, said that was fine – and to be honest, I don’t think they’d been too aware of my presence.
She said the chat, between two of them, had been aimed at taking the silent third one’s mind of her running (I think she had a bit of hip pain or something).
Laura added something like if you could speak about seven words a sentence without gasping whilst running then that’s a fair indicator your breathing’s okay.
Despite the fact that I normally talk a lot, I couldn’t have uttered one word at that pace!
Another of the trio, Kirsty, emphasised the point was to be helpful and nobody is ever left alone on a Stoke F.I.T. training run – they’ll come back for you if need be.
This generosity of spirit is not just confined to team-mates, it extends to other runners too.
“It’s the club ethos. You can always tell if someone’s a ‘Fitter’ ‘cos that’s what we do”.
Once I’d fuelled up with tea and hot buttered toast at the Park Run Café, I joined another “Fitter” on the walk home, and got more running advice.
Lee advised me to “push from my glutes” (buttock muscles!) when running up hills (“it’s easier to push than pull”).
Isn’t it amazing? Slow or not, I’ve loved running since I was a teenager and I’m still learning!
None of this was directly down to an unhealthy choice, it was down to a supposedly healthy necessity – I’d broken a bone in my foot and doctors advised me not to do any exercise that involved putting weight on it (in other words my normal exercise routine!)
Admittedly I could have been more creative in how I adapted my workouts but in practice this didn’t happen.
One of the many results was a limited choice for work outfits for summer. A big bust, flabby upper arms and a slight belly are better off hidden under baggy black tops. The Guerrilla training I was forbidden to do would’ve sorted the issue.
Now, of course, that’s in the past. And I’m very, very grateful I can run today – I’m in my running gear as I type this and the sun is shining outside! Am I procrastinating?
Good Luck to everyone who likes working out but who’s still recovering from injury. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen! Hang on in there.