I’m aiming for this to be a regular feature on our site, a look at what we do to keep (relatively) fit. Recently, there’s been a huge backlash on unqualified bloggers telling people what to do without the safety of science behind them, so I’m keen to avoid that. So rather than tell you what to do, we’ll use this space to tell you what we do. And hopefully, if I’m writing this right, you can take some pointers from our experiences to shape your own.
Our exercise pattern doesn’t change much week to week, which itself presents a challenge when writing a monthly column on it. So, rather than introduce you to it – I’ll take you back to when we started. Fitting as we started running together in February 2015.
I can’t believe how lazy we were just two years ago. Emma had just started her routine to get fitter, but was using exercise videos as her hour-long exertion of energy every day. I played FIFA, and then ate badly. It was a pretty tough time for both of us. Emma had been told she had high blood pressure by the doctors and was determined not to let her life go to waste, I was unemployed following a short Christmas Temp role at Boots.
I hate those blogs which try to inspire you with soppy crap about how their lives were spiralling out of control and something needed to change else they’d find themselves shooting up in the gutter preceding another night on the streets. In reality, it’s rarely that bad. Reality gets lost in the blogsphere, so I’ll try to keep fantasy out of reach. But it was bad, even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time.
Way back when, I was quite an active kid. I played hockey, football and went running after school for about half a year when I was 11, and was one of the few children who actually bothered in PE (it still hurts that I was put in the “low performance” group come Year 10/11). I wasn’t much of an athlete, granted, but I tried and, you know what, I was fairly good at running.
Stuff happens, it tends to, and I stopped all of that after leaving school. Slowly I started eating worse and worse and without me knowing I’d gained too much weight. Energy levels were low, and my interest in things started to wane. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I was happy, but unbeknown to me I was doing serious, almost irreplaceable harm to my body.
So, February 2015. I was perfectly happy playing FIFA every day for an hour while Emma sweated to videos she hated by celebrities she’d neither heard of nor cared about. My career was going well actually, I had taken Cheltenham to the Champions League and signed Phillip Lahm as my captain. And then my world was rocked. Emma said words to me I really didn’t want to hear.
“Gareth, I want to go running, and I want you to go with me.”
Do I have to? Do I even want to? Do I really want to give up my FIFA time to spend time getting sweaty and using muscles I didn’t know even existed?
Of course not. Begrudgingly, knowing how hard Emma was working and how much it would help, I agreed. And the first day we did it, using the Couch 2 5K app from the NHS, we struggled. It was hard, my legs ached and I begged for every second to be over. It was 8 minutes of running, 1-minute intervals with walking in between. Looking back at it, it’s laughable that we struggled. But we did, and people as out of shape as we were would do.
But you know what? It helped. It helped a lot. And, while I want to avoid telling you what to do, I would recommend every inch of that pain to anyone who feels like they want to make a difference. Forget the fact you’re sweating in public, no one cares, forget the fact you’re not doing much, every little helps. Put yourself out there, start running, start small and build up. It’s so clichéd, but if Emma and I can do it – literally anyone can.
Next month I will try and talk about the benefits I’ve felt from all our various exercises.