It’s week 3 of my new fitness regime and I’m quite surprised to admit that I’m still running. The turn of a new year is a strange thing. From the last week of November and through the whole of December everything in my life that needed any real thought or planning seemed to go on a special to do list for after Christmas. Christmas came and disappeared in Twixtmas, that odd week where no one knows what day it is, and you wake up in the morning and have a breakfast of chocolate, prosecco with orange juice or maybe a turkey and stuffing sandwich.
Even the first week of the new year had a phony work feel to it. With New Year’s Day falling on a Monday people sort of drifted back to work at odd times so it was more gentle start to a working year than normal. It was on Sunday 7th January that I noticed things had changed. I had about half a dozen emails and quite a few texts from people wanting to organise meetings to talk about projects that had been on hold whilst the fairy lights still twinkled on trees across the country.
Cold Running? Not for me.
In my defence I had wanted to start the new year with a new me. When people talk about being a ‘Fairweather this’ or ‘Fairweather that’ they usually mean that a person only likes to be involved when the going is good. I am actually a real life ‘Fairweather runner’. I don’t like all that wind and rain that you get on the prom during the winter months. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to run regularly before Christmas so over ‘twixtmas’ I joined a gym so that as soon as the clock struck 12 on New Year’s day I could start my ‘come back’ by running in a controlled environment.
It was actually a couple of hours later that I took full advantage of my new gym membership. I left the New Year’s party early as I had to present the early morning show for BBC Radio Wales. I had the smugness that only comes when you walk through Swansea City Centre in your gym kit on New Year’s Day knowing that you would be the only one that keen to devote themselves to the creation of the body beautiful.
My first disappointment was that by the time I got there the Gym was pretty full already. I could tell that most of them were old hands. There are the tell-tale signs. As I smiled and nodded to the other gym bunnies most of them were so engrossed in their workout that I hardly got a raised eyebrow in return. Then it took me the best part of 10 minutes to actually get the running machine to do what I wanted it to do.
During the summer months when I run along the prom it’s pretty straightforward. I run 2.5 k from home and then know I have to run the same distance back, 5k. I run at my speed and its on the flat. These days running machines are far more complicated than real life. They want to know how far, how fast and how many hills you want to run and how sharply those hills rise as you go. The trouble was I had already set the machine off and ‘running’ before I tried to get to grip with the actual controls. I eventually settled into a rhythm but not before I’d nearly been thrown off the machine a couple of times.
Now the good thing about a gym is that is a controlled environment. The bad thing is that it’s a bit boring just running on a treadmill, I can’t for the life of me understand what hamsters see in it. Also with nothing to look at or to do I found myself just staring at the meters counting up the minutes and counting down the metres. As it was my first time running for months after 4 minutes I wanted to stop. Every minute and every kilometre seemed to drag. The more I stared at them the more they dragged. I decided that next time it would be different.
On the Tuesday I turned up with my phone and a set of headphones. This time the running machine wasn’t too much of a problem except I decided to start the machine before setting up the music on my phones. As I ran I found myself fiddling with music playlists trying to get my wired headphones untangled whilst still trying to look as cool as I could in front of all of the other gymsters.
Having got some music sorted and headphones in place I soon realised that because my wired headphones had fairly short wires I had to actually stoop as I ran to make sure I could rest my phone on the running machine next to the controls without pulling it off. The next thing I noticed as I stooped was the only thing I could see was those meters counting up the minuets and down the metres. Hmmm.
6.45am and I’m looking cool in my new red headphones…
I decided I would buy myself a set of Bluetooth wireless headphones so that I could run free with my head held high. I also decided that instead of listening to music I would watch some catch up TV on my phone. That way I wouldn’t be so concerned with the running machine counters which, like a watched pot, seemed to move very slowly.
On Wednesday morning I arrived at the gym armed with my new headphones and mobile phone tuned into the BBC iplayer. By day 3 I realised no one was at all interested in nodding, saying hello or making eye contact as I walked to my running machine. I strode purposely into place, I turned on the treadmill and seamlessly set up my phone and headset and settled into a rhythm whilst watching TV. Then it became clear to me that whilst watching tv on a mobile phone works perfectly well when you’re sat on a bus or a train if you’re bobbing up and down on a running machine its hard to see the picture and because of all the movement with my pounding the floor the phone was constantly bobbing off the machine and heading for the floor. I was running, squinting at the phone whilst trying my best to keep my balance as I kept on replacing the phone into the middle section of the little platform in front of the machine controls.
Day 4 and I turn up with my new headphones and an iPad. I’m thinking a bigger screen and a heavier machine would mean great stability. I was wrong
The final piece of gym kit for the perfect session
Day 5 I turn up with headphones, an iPad and some blue tack. Finally, I think I might have cracked it. And as it was Friday and I’d been every working day of the New Year I finished the week feeling I had accomplished something. By the following Monday I had the start of tonsillitis and week 2 only saw 2 visits to the gym.
We are now in week three and it took me until Thursday to feel up to it again. My running is as bad as it was back at the start of the year. The good news is that as I struggle to get my fitness back to where I was at the end of week one at least now I am completely sorted on the technology. Who would have thought getting fit would be so expensive and take so much gear!