Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Exhausting Nature Of Doing Nowt

Nah then… first things first… it’s August 1, which can only mean one thing… HAPPY YORKSHIRE DAY!!!

I last blogged about any exercise last Friday, when I rambled on about not doing anything. Or about stopping shortly after starting, anyway. I knew I had pain in my lower right side abs when I ran downhill, but I didn’t know why, what may have caused it and whether it was one of those niggles or something more problematic. I wasn’t feeling any pain when not doing anything and there hadn’t been a specific “ouch!” moment to which I could link it. I just did what all the #runnerblades on Twitter, all the “Running For Beginners” stuff and all the little common sense I can muster tell you: I rested. Did nothing on Saturday, didn’t embark on any run on Sunday (let alone my weekly ‘long run’). Did nothing on Monday, which I’d taken off work anyway as we spent it with some dear friends who work in the humanitarian sector in Jerusalem, God bless them. Almost did something on Tuesday, when I was tempted to just run round the field opposite to see if I got any reaction, but didn’t. Then today…

…I gave in and went for a short 10k cycle. I chose cycling over running because… well, because Kat told me to. Kat’s one of the doctors who go to our church, Gordano Valley Church. I approached her before the service: “I’m sure your least favourite sentence is “You’re a doctor, aren’t you?”” and proceeded to briefly describe the niggle. She agreed with my gut instinct that it was more likely to be muscular than any of the other stuff I’d found online… and to cycle before I ran because “cycling is less straining”. Wow… there’s a new outlook on life! Hadn’t looked at the two that way! So today off I went: without forcing things (by, say, trying to overtake someone uphill), but equally without finding it a struggle.
(and yes, I know, I know – the worst thing you can do when not sure about something medical is look it up online, as Peter Kay correctly points out in “The Book That’s More Than Just A Book” (now only £5.99 in paperback!)…

But let me tell you, doing nothing for four full days proved a darn sight harder than I anticipated. I was left wondering how quickly I’d lose my rhythm, both mentally and physically. I was wondering how quickly I’d pile the weight back on, how much my next session would hurt. Which is all irrational from the outside, at least for a four-day rest for a very amateur athlete. In fact, do I even qualifie as an ‘amateur athlete’? Probably not: I’m just a bloke who goes running sometimes. Rationally, a four-day rest is nothing and, providing I didn’t revert to old eating habits, I was hardly going to revert to old weights, either. Nevertheless, there is a sense of helplessness that comes with niggles to which I will just have to get used. And I expect I will get better as I learn more about my body and its reactions to what I do. This running malarkey (which, as you know, I can’t stand) is still relatively new to me, so I am still getting to grips with the carious cause:effect relationships.

1991 World Student Games bumbag. Original
So – 10k cycling today in 29’25”. I wouldn’t normally cycle less than 20k, but this wasn’t about exercising, rather it was a means of testing for any negative reaction. Weather permitting, back to running tomorrow evening and maybe Friday lunchtime. Won’t get out on Saturday as Mrs S is travelling off to Wales on Friday evening to spend some time with a good friend, returning Sunday evening when I will hopefully be able to get out there again. Having so far diligently followed Runners’ World 8-week 10k training schedule for beginners, I had been looking to up the ante in August, with this week’s planned 40k turning to 50k/week thereafter. I may well have to revisit that spreadsheet, folk. Do I need to run five times/week? Should I spend more time on cross-training, not least on the weights to strengthen the abs muscles that are the most likely cause of my enforced four day break? I’ll work something out. I must not lose sight of the fact that I’m already in a good place, regularly running 11k in sub-75’. If I get into my pre-training mindset, that sounds amazing. Nor must I love sight of the fact that I’m virtually there on the weight loss and that should no longer be a training motivator. In terms of sheer weight, I haven’t weighed this little since circa 1996. Bearing in mind that I have never weighed more than I did last November/December, that’s something I am pleased with. So, whilst I am looking to lose another half a dozen kilos or so, I won’t be at all disappointed if I don’t: my 1991 World Student Games bumbag already fits round my waist again, and that’s not a sentence I ever thought I’d mutter. And what a relief I bet its better than owt that can get for That Londons malarkey! So any further weight loss will be a side effect of improving my 5k and 10k training times. Indeed, it could well go up if I bulk up a little: as long as my BMI heads in the right direction, I couldn’t care less. That BMI is already lower than when I did my last Swimathon in 2007, which genuinely surprises me. But some surprises are nicer than others…
…seriously, I will try not to talk about weight from this blog forward. One reason I fall into this trap is that weight is numerical, empirical: I don’t have to describe it to record it or explain it, it’s self-explanatory. In my mind I have weight milestones: every six kilos between 72 and 96 somehow mean something to me, in terms of where I was and what I was doing when I reached them, whether on the way up or down. And my weight’s generally oscillated more than most: it had just stagnated a little too much recently… Anyway, I have now crept beneath the 78 milestone, meaning I’m in fighting fit mode. 72… well, we’ll see. There’ll be an awful lot of trousers that won’t fit me anymore if I do get there, I’ll tell you that much. And not many of those that did from circa 1996 are still around: you can only move house so many times without looking at clothes thinking “actually, I’ll never fit into those again”… I may have been under this roof since 1999, but in the three years prior to that I’d moved from Sheffield to Clermont Ferrand to Sheffield to Nice to Sheffield to London to Slough to Bourne End to Portishead… and OK, all through that time most of my junk was actually still in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy, but still!

Last but not least, I must not lose sight of the main reason I’m doing all this. Quite simply, it is to complete the Sheffield TenTenTen. Sure, in as good a time as possible. But it’s my first ever race (well, apart from that debacle in Salcombe) and I’m still unsure as to how I will transition from solitary training to group racing. It’s all about getting there, crossing that line. And I’m not going to achieve that if I don’t do as my body tells me. Which, in fairness to myself, I actually did on this occasion. So keep listening, Squintani keep listening!

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