I’ve just spent the last 25 minutes flicking through fitness magazines at the WH Smith at Edinburgh train station. I’m on the hunt for ideas.
Each year, around the time when the clocks go back, I enter my “experimental month” of training. Regretful of the races I didn’t do, the times I didn’t meet and the levels of fitness I just couldn’t reach, I start dreaming of next season’s possibilities and setting out what an average week of training might look like.
(Note. I say dreaming because my initial race plans are only in the “pre-pre-approval” phase. In other words I have mentioned them in passing to my wife – for instance, whilst she is sleeping or watching Bake Off. Some of these plans have been submitted in writing, albeit via a third party, so haven’t technically met pre-approval status yet).
I have already thrown in a couple of curveballs to my training. On Friday, for example, rather than run the 20km home from work, I ran in. On an empty stomach. Whether exercising in a “fasted” state is a good idea depends on who you ask, but if you’re asking me: don’t do it.
I’ve also tried cycling and swimming when I’m hungry and it basically ruins my morning. After the run, I consumed a protein shake, two egg sandwiches, a bowl of porridge and a considerable pasta lunch – and I still felt wobbly. The fact I only managed to write about 150 words in four hours is also reason to stop that particular experiment.
Other things I’ve been toying with include the following.
Spinning. There, I said it. But recently I have caught myself checking out the times for classes at the local gym. You see, there’s a crèche where I could leave A2 (our youngest child) whilst I pedalled for three quarters of an hour in a very hot room listening to music I hate. The other option is to pedal for three quarters of an hour in a very cold garage listening to Peppa Pig.
But spinning is probably just as pointless as it always was. So, how about meta-fit? I did this high intensity class once a week for about three months last year and the weight fell off. That’s not always a good thing at over six foot and 75 kilos, but I began to feel fitter, stronger and even a little more flexible. I struggle to put my socks on from a sitting position at the end of the bed these days, so this is not to be sniffed at.
One evening, my wife – mid Bake Off but nonetheless showing a passing interest in my reveries – suggests I try CrossFit. She goes once a week and takes great pleasure in informing us all just how much her arms ache (everyday tasks, like unloading the dishwasher, become feats of human endurance post CrossFit).
This week, her session involved hanging from a bar and doing leg raises; an exercise that would put me at a distinct disadvantage given my physique. Still, I look it up. The website reads: “We run around the lake and woods, lift amongst the trees and tumble on the grass.” It sounds like a swinger’s club for fans of the Rocky films, I say. She gives me a friendly pinch. It hurts. Perhaps it’s worth a go after all?
My winter weeks are beginning to take shape. Monday: Swim (A2 in crèche). Tuesday: Commuting run/cycle. Wednesday: Swim. Thursday: CrossFit. Friday: Commuting run/cycle. As I mull over how to fit in a turbo session, yoga, tempo run and a distance run (plus the Spanish and banjo lessons I’ve been meaning to start since this time last year), I come across an article suggesting “if you did anything for a month, every day, for at least an hour, you would end up understanding it so well that you couldn’t help but love it”.
I think this over. An hour’s swim every morning and an hour’s bike or run every afternoon, for a whole month. What better way to spend this year’s experimental month? However, it would only really be possible if I took the month off work, too. I must say this out loud because I get pinched again.