It was the summer of 2012. My brother asked me to come to the gym with him to take part in an Israeli Self-Defence fitness class. I thought to myself that sounds cool, what could go wrong, so I went, despite being wickedly out of shape. The class started with a basic warmup of drills and jumping jacks. Within the first 10 minutes I felt myself feeling dizzy and knew I had to stop. I stumbled out of the class and was guided into the managers office of the gym where I sat still until I felt that I could make it home in one piece.
January 2013, I acknowledge to myself that I need to get into shape, so naturally my first thought was what can I buy to help me? Shall I buy an exercise bike? A rowing machine? A running machine? Yes a running machine! Hang on, why don’t I just go for a run outside? At this very moment my mind decided to provide me with a million reasons of why I shouldn’t go for a run outside. The reason that held me back the most was the thought of what people would think of me. I thought this over until the thought of not running because of what others might think actually made me angry with myself. This anger gave me the push I needed to try something new.
What did I do first to prepare myself for my great run outdoors? I headed straight online to order everything that I might need to help motivate me to get going with my new hobby. A new hoodie, tracksuit bottoms with zips on the pockets and a pair of trainers. I then downloaded the Nike running app for iPhone.
Day one – I decided to run from my house to a local park to see if I could manage several laps of it. I was only able to jog at a moderate pace for 12 minutes. Day two – I ran the same route but this time managed to run for 16 minutes. Day three – same route again but this time for 30 minutes. I felt like I was onto something. As long as I beat my last run, I was progressing. How could I build on this I wondered, I then decided to run into town which seemed daunting at first but it proved to be easier than I my mind lead me to believe.
Before long I started running with one of my closest friends and we decided to sign up to the upcoming Great British London 10K run to give us a reason to consistently train. A month before the 10K run, we managed to run 19K without stopping (which at the time of writing this post, it is still the furthest I have ever run). The day of the 10K run came and I managed to complete it with relative ease in 1 hour 10 minutes.
After the Great British 10K, I noticed that I started to have knee trouble so I decided to no longer run as frequently. I also noticed that my physic had changed from all of my running and that I had become ‘skinny-fat’. I had lost most of my muscle mass through long 30 to 60 minutes of running and still had a belly on me. I decided to go back to weightlifting with a vengeance and started following the Stronglifts 5X5 programme, which I still use as my base workout to this day.
February 2015, I organised a 10K run with colleagues from my work to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. The response from my colleagues was overwhelming and we had a fantastic day out. My time for this 10K was 52 minutes, which I am hoping to beat before I’m grey and old. I managed to achieve this time without much training for the run so how did I manage to beat my previous times? Because I had organised the run, I had put a target on my back and felt I needed to lead by example. It worked.
After the British Heart Foundation 10K, I rediscovered my love for running however I did not want to return to my ‘skinny-fat’ physique. So again I thought to myself what could I do differently? This is when I discovered the benefits of interval training. Interval training comes in many forms however the type I decided to follow was the Bill Phillips – Back to Fit workout which included an interval routine where you walk for 2 minutes, jog at a moderate pace for 2 minutes then sprint for 1 minute. I found that with this workout I was able to burn a high number calories over a shorter time which was ideal because it meant I would lose less muscle through this type of cardio workout.
October 2015, I decided to take part in Tough Mudder. This was a fantastic new experience as it was essentially a 21K run broken up by obstacles. The combination of the obstacles with the running turned out to be very enjoyable and again, not as difficult as I had imagined. However upon completing the run I started to experience issues with my knee once more.
After much research online, I found many knee exercises that I could do to strengthen my knee. While my knee pain can reoccur from time to time, it has greatly improved through continuous use of these exercises and I plan to make them a staple of my daily routine going forward.
February 2017, day of writing this article. I completed a 10K in 58 minutes. I now have an overwhelming desire to beat my previous best and have set a target to complete a 10K in under 50 minutes. Will I beat this record in 2017? Watch this space.