Tag Archives: Gym

Running Beyond My Limits

I have always felt fear and loathing towards running. Apart from the need to catch the odd bus, surely we humans have evolved out of the need to run?

I only ever used the treadmill at the gym for a brisk walk.

No doubt this antipathy goes back to middle school when I came last in the cross-country race. Not only did I come in last place, but I was so out of breath people were concenred I was asthmatic (I wasn’t). Since then, I’ve believed that some people aren’t made for running and I’m one of them.

This was reinforced last December when our fitness trainer on the first morning of the retreat told us to run up the beach and back. I had been going to the gym for five months by this point so didn’t think it would be too arduous. Wrong. After just a few paces I had a coughing fit so severe that I thought I was going to be sick. I told myself that it was purely coincidental that we were only asked to walk along the beach each morning after that

During the retreat, I met an amazing woman (among many) called Di from Barking, Essex. She had come through debilitating health problems to compete in Tough Mudder and seems to be taking part in runs every other weekend. After we got back, with extreme unwarranted optimism, she kept asking me if I’d take part in various race events.

I did want to clear this block and learnt to run, even if only once. Eventually I agreed to The Color Run because I read that children could take part, you weren’t timed and mothers could even go round the course while pushing a pram. Hey, this was more my speed and it looked fun too. I tried not to think about the fact it was 5km long.

color run

I signed up around the end of March and the race is set for the 12th June. I had about 10 weeks to go from zero to hero. I told my fitness guru, Val, that  I was going to run for 5 minutes during my first training session at the gym. She replied “Five minutes is a long time”. Oh how right she was. I struggled to jog on the treadmill for one whole minute. Yes, you read that correctly: I could barely get through a single minute.  I thought it would tough-going, but I had no idea just how tough.

Since then I’ve been gradually building up the amount of time I can run for continuously and am currently up to 20 minutes.  I found this brilliant training programme on the NHS website called Couch to 5k which has been invaluable. It’s given me a lot more confidence that I won’t completely disgrace myself. An added motivator is that I’m trying to raise funds for Chlldine, a helpline in the UK for children suffering abuse.

Since starting to run something strange has happened. I’ve begun to almost look forward to my training sessions at the gym. It’s given me a new exercise goal to work towards and I’m seeing progress every time I go. It’s also satisfying to confront my limiting belief that I’m just not capable of running.

If all else fails on the day, Di has said she will drag me around the course on my knees, so that’s okay then…

 

Do you run? Do you have any tips or books to recommend on the subject? How does running make you feel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Can Find Me In The Gym

It used to be that you were about as likely to find me in the gym as you were to find me “in da club”. Things have changed.

For the majority of 2014 I suffered from persistent negative thoughts. I tried various ways to cope with these, from the very old (Buddhist worry beads) to the very new (unfriending a load of people on Facebook). Nothing worked which meant I would need to take drastic action the following year. 2015 subsequently became my year of living dangerously – well compared to how I had been living, anyway.

In February last year I sat silently quaking on a 2 hour flight to spend time in Austria with a good friend. By December I was sitting relatively calmly on a 10 hour flight to a retreat where I didn’t know any of the 130 other attendees. I made lots of changes inbetween those two events but the pivotal one was joining the gym last July.

gym

The person responsible for holding my hand and encouraging me every step of the way was Val the Cookie Queen. Like all the best role-models she didn’t preach or cajole, she was just a great advert for what an active life-style can do for you.

Up to that point I’d heard countless times how exercise helps with low mood. I just couldn’t identify with working-out in any way and didn’t consider it to be an option for me. All I’d done in the past 20 years was a spell of Kundalini yoga: call me hardcore, but I don’t think anyone should be snoring during their exercise session (I swear it wasn’t me).

When I tentatively brought up the idea of following her example and going to the gym, Val plainly stated it would change my life. That was the final push I needed to at least give it a try.

To say I had low expectations on taking out a gym membership is to put it mildly. I felt like a fish out of water and thought it unlikely that it would be for me. But in the spirit of my drive to step out of my comfort zone, I’d give it a proper go for the next 6 months.

After two weeks my obsessive thoughts had decreased by about 90%. I was amazed. Considering they had been intense and constant for the previous year and half, I don’t think this is a coincidence. I doubt I was pushing myself hard enough to release the required amount of endorphins but I do think I sent a strong positive message to myself that I was prepared to do whatever it took to improve my well-being.

Becoming fitter and reducing my body fat was a great bonus. I do two sessions of cardio/resistance work a week plus a Hatha yoga class. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t exactly enjoy being at the gym and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check my watch regularly while I’m there. All the same, if I can’t go for any reason, instead of feeling relieved I feel uneasy. This is now an important part of my weekly routine.

Thanks Val, you were right; going to the gym changed my life.

val fortnum.jpg

Me and Val at Fortnum & Mason last summer

Do you go to the gym or do any other kind of regular exercise? What have the benefits been? 

 

 

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