Friday, June 08, 2007

For What It's Worth

A friend wants to lose some weight and has been asking me for advice. I tried to think about what to tell her, but it wasn't easy. The simple answer is eat less and move more. However it goes beyond that, because to be successful whatever activity she undertakes has to mean something to her.

I exercise a lot. I exercise to the point where I'm not doing this just out of some modern idea that I need to keep fit. I'm doing this because this is my life, and I love it. I love running. I love yoga. I love weights. I love RPM and I even love cycling and swimming. I've achieved the results I have because I've made a decision to make my workouts one of the prime priorities in my life.

I don't just go to the gym because it's 'what I'm supposed to do'. I love the gym. I've done well because I've managed to hook into something I enjoy. So what to tell my friend? She has recently had to start paying for a gym membership she used to get for free, and that has made her rethink what she wants to achieve. Her gym has a pool, and she enjoys swimming enough that she decided to keep her membership going. She also likes weights, and puts muscle on easily. So I suggested that she start from there and find some other form of cardio exercise that she finds interesting to help burn calories. I warned her that if she was going to sit on an exercycle or cross trainer that she needed to avoid the trap of working at a level of intensity too low to raise her heart rate. We also agreed that she might need to cut back on the wine and watch her portion sizes. In the end though, she will need to find some kind of intrinsic reward to keep her going.

This week I feel that I've been reaping my own rewards in the form of consistently good runs. There was the quickish half hour run around the Bays on Wednesday night, and back against gusting headwinds that kept stopping me in my tracks. I was running five and a half minute km's and knew I would have run faster had I not tired my legs the night before. On Thursday Duck worked my legs with single leg press and single leg squats. We followed that up with more push ups, with chin ups and cable and core work thrown in.

I had to run 45 minutes on Thursday, supposedly at a running pace. In many ways this could almost have been a bad run. My glutes, quads, and calves were all extremely tight. My left shin was sore, as was my right heel and my right IT band was acting up a bit just above my knee. I was a little nervous that history might be repeating itself, as it was only once I got up over 90 minutes last year that my knee issues kicked in.

However it was a lovely day outside, if windy, and it felt important to do the run. I started off up Bowen, and the tightness in my calves was such that I cringed at how bad my form must have looked. From there it was a short way down Tinakori, and then I hung a left and ran up onto Grant Street, along the side of the town belt, for a series of rolling hills. I chose that path because it was sheltered from the winds, but also because I was tired of the same routes I've been running all year. It was nice to be running past historic Thorndon cottages, and that helped me to keep going.

I ran as far as I could, electing to leave Wadestown Rd for another day. Eventually the road grew narrower and narrower, and to my right a magnificent view of the harbour and stadium opened up. I ran beyond one of those great Wellington signs that warns that the road narrows and that there is nowhere to turn around ahead. I ran until I turned a corner and realised that I was effectively running up someone's driveway. So I turned around and started running back. I headed up a short but very steep street that came out part of the way up Wadestown Rd, then ran back down and onto Tinakori Rd again. I then ran down Tinakori and out onto Thorndon Quay, where I turned right and started heading back towards the city.

I wasn't running at a genuinely fast pace, but I was certainly running faster than 'easy'. However each individual muscle in my legs was clearly expressing displeasure. By the time I was running past the stadium I was considering cutting my run short for the first time ever, and heading straight back to the gym for a total time of around 35 minutes. However as I ran past the Capital Gateway shopping complex (Hamish's office) something strange happened. I checked in and realised that, although my muscles were sore my lungs were fine and mentally I was coping ok with just putting one foot in front of another and plodding onwards. I decided that this was a good test for the latter stages of the half, and I kept going. I ran past the railway station, onto the waterfront, past Shed 5, around the outer T, then back into town and up Woodward Street, where I stopped for a total of 44 minutes. Despite the pain the last ten minutes of my run felt great.

Dinner with friends, a late night and too much wine put paid to any ideas about getting up and doing a 6.30am Body Balance, but that was no bad thing. Over an hour at the dentist, repairs to a cracked tooth, two fillings and three shots of local anesthetic left me unable to talk properly or feel anything on one side of my face (at some point I must have bitten my tongue but I don't know when). I had a splitting headache and by the time I got back to work I must have looked pretty pale, because my manager sent me home, where I spent much of this afternoon asleep on the sofa. Needless to say I didn't do my 20 minute homework run, nor did I do stretch yoga at the Gaura Yoga centre.

I have to run 100 minutes with the Squad in the morning. Given that I ran 97 last weekend over a major hill route I'm not worried about the distance. I am worried a little about my knee, which is still tight. I really should have stretched today rather than sleeping on the sofa for most of the afternoon. Sarah and I are planning to run to the Terrace gym after the Squad run, with the aim of making it there in time to do Balance. Goodness knows I need it, particularly if I'm going to survive RPM and dinner on Sunday. If I start having serious knee issues again I'll just rest for most of this week. One week of reduced kilometres isn't going to kill my fitness.

I hope my friend finds what she needs to achieve her goals, but it's up to her to decide how badly she wants to lose weight. I'm happy to support her the whole way, but I'm certainly not going to suggest that she try to copy me. I don't want to inflict my madness on the poor girl.

1 comment:

Sass said...

I would think telling your friend about the extent of your regime would freak them out rather than encouraging them! But you and I both know, it's about starting off small and steadily building up to the mad hours spent in pursuit of exercise based happiness;p