Page 2: Exercise More
Welcome back to my diatribe against unfit Jean!
Today I would like to bring you on the journey from gasping as I walked up stairs, through finding my legs still worked, and out the other side to jumping at any opportunity to go for a walk.
One day, I walked to the DART station from work, leather shoes slapping against my heels, huffing and puffing through the fifteen minute walk.
I was delighted.
The next day, I got the bus, but the day after, I walked again… And the day after that… and the day after that. I remember calling my parents to boast; it was the first voluntary activity I had completed since school.
I continued walking the fifteen minutes until, a couple of weeks later, I walked home; Thirty minutes. My thighs and calves ached the next day, but I had done it. I had progressed, I had improved and the walk to the DART didn’t even lose my breath any more.
This is how I started. I didn’t try to run a marathon, or take up a team sport, or hike a mountain.
I walked fifteen minutes.
I integrated it into my daily routine because when I get in the door, I find myself overwhelmed by the unusually strong gravity pull of the couch and, with that, I’m lost for the evening.
There came a day, months down the line, where walking just wasn’t cutting it any more. I didn’t feel as good about it, and this gave me the push I needed to resist the couch for short amounts of time to begin Couch to 5k. There are many words I can use for this program; inspired, rewarding, brilliant… and a frustrating, heart wrenching hell. It is a great beginners running program, with short jogs (starting at one minute in Week 1), interspersed with walking breaks. I choose the GetRunning app to assist me. It comes with a female Scottish voiceover who promises you that “You’re doing GREAT, and to just keep GOING!”
I wanted to find this woman, and slap the chirpy enthusiasm right out of her voice. Did she not realise that I was, figuratively, dying? I couldn’t breathe, my legs felt like lead, the elderly on walking frames were zooming by me, and she was taunting me with, “FanTASTIC, you’re half way there!”
Then eight weeks in, the day I jogged twenty whole minutes in a row, I felt a sense of reward that eclipsed any amount of satisfaction I had ever gotten from food.
So, if you are thinking about moving more, start slow and small. I was not able to walk for long distances when I started, let along go for a jog. Had I tried, I would have failed and been so discouraged that only mountains of food would have made me feel better.
Use apps and logging websites. Nothing compares to the superior, elite feeling you get as you look back over the past month and see how many miles you’ve walked or cycled, weights you’ve lifted or how your pace has improved.
Don’t try to conquer the exercise mountain in one day. It is simply not going to happen. It takes time for your body to crave movement as much as it craves food.
Integrate moving into your daily life. If you’re starting off, don’t promise yourself that you’re going to go for a ten mile walk or go to the gym for an hour. Making a big deal of exercise will put you off. You don’t need to be in a certain place, or wearing specific clothes; Use the stairs, walk to the shop, get off the bus a stop early, walk home, offer to carry heavy bags; Most of all, walk everywhere with purpose, arms swinging, pushing yourself, the attractive faint sheen of sweat on your forehead (Oh, nobody cares anyway – no one’s looking.)
If you do decide to try jogging:
Proper runners. Proper runners. Proper runners. These are not just Dunnes fifteen euro “sports shoes”.
These are correctly designed, supportive proper runners that cushion every pounding step. Mine are called “The Beast”.
Learn how to warm down properly. Seriously. Youtube it, ask a physiotherapist, ask your sporty friends, but just do it
Don’t let one bad day bring you down. It’s very easy to curse the world, give up, and eat the entire contents of the fridge. But why would you do that? You didn’t lose anything, you weren’t competing with anyone; you just couldn’t jog properly one day. The next day will be better… and maybe get a take away as a reward for trying anyway.
Day on, day off, but never two. Take days off from running to recover, but don’t take off more than a few days in a row. I physically start to sink back into the “Sure, why would I do exercise?” mentality and each additional day makes it tougher to get back in runners. Do not let this happen.
Do not let your body tell your brain what to do. Your body doesn’t know what’s good for it and your brain does. If you let your brain make excuses for your body, you are only fooling yourself.
Be responsible for you and, as before, hold yourself accountable. You will not fail.
Get Running App is perfect for the Couch to 5k, lets you listen to your own music, and despite her highly irritating levels of happiness, the coach and her reminders are definitely motivational.
Run Keeper connects straight into an app that records distance, pace, calories, and has tiny map so you can watch when your GPS suddenly decides you’re somewhere on mainland Europe and have run in the region of 1000mph.
Fitocracy is a great idea, mixing a social side with exercise – but only 350 points for 100 burpees? Ludicrous.