The word exercise is usually enough to put people off. I mean, it’s obvious to see why. It doesn’t exactly conjure up an image you want to experience.
Gyms try and promote it by showing the best of humanity. Healthy, hench, beautiful men and women who appear not to sweat, pumping iron after iron to continue that perfect image they have worked so hard to achieve. The reality: steroids and probable disqualification from any professional sporting event.
But you don’t see that reality – you only see the image. And, trust me I know, it hurts. You look down at your body and see the flaws. The flabby belly, the arms that are just a little too big. Spots here and there. Why on earth, as a man, would I want to run where the whole world can see my chest bob up and down?
Let’s not lie; let’s not beat around the bush. Exercise is awful. Anyone who tells you differently really needs a social life. You sweat, you can’t be bothered to do it and you want to give up as soon as you can. But the feeling after you finish? Yeah, that’s why you do it. Or at least the reason I do it.
So, last month I introduced you to why Emma and I started running, including my great reluctance to the idea. We finished the C25K training and wondered what to do next? We looked around, tried a few things and went through a period where we were really struggling. Running 30 minutes three times a week had once been an achievement, but had quickly turned stale. Quite frankly, we were bored, and our weight loss had stopped.
C25K had a sister app – a podcast, to be precise. It had three more runs for “graduates” to try. A sprinting session, an endurance session and a session to work on running the 30 minutes faster. The endurance was interesting, the sprinting tough and the faster one pointless. All had awful club music in the background, designed to make you run better, but the reality was it just made me hate the runs. Emma didn’t have to listen to it, as I ran with headphones and her without.
The endurance was simply a 35 minute run. We took inspiration from that and slowly increased it to a 45 one. The sprinting was five minutes at normal pace, and then six faster intervals followed by six slower ones. Since Christmas, I’ve eased the podcast out, and now can do all the runs without headphones on. I prefer running like that, as I run with Emma, but if you run on your own – having music on is perfect inspiration.
We have run on our own before. I remember those runs, because one of them was the only time I gave up. I was running up a particularly large hill in a part of the world I had never visited before, and decided I’d had enough. I was stupid, but remember that story because I’ll talk about it in more detail at a later date.
For now, I want to talk about the benefits of each individual run. Our favourite run is the 45-minute one, our least favourite the 16-minute. And so, we usually start the week with the short one.
Sprinting, even for only a minute, isn’t easy. And neither of us are particularly built for that. Both of us are long distance runners, which is why this training is particularly important for us. The benefits of it? Are there any? Yes, of course, it raises the pulse, burns more calories and you really enjoy it when it’s done. It’s around 4,000 steps, which isn’t many, but gives the day a quick boost and provides a necessary burst of energy.
The bog standard 30 minute run is our mid-week effort. 6,000 steps makes it perfect distance for Emma’s full day at Uni (the walk from the car park to her building is 2,000 so she does the 10,000 without any further walks during the day). I quite like the half an hour run. It’s just over 5k; with our distance slowly increasing the more we do it. It feels quick these days – a far cry from when we first did it! All in all it’s pretty simple, which makes it enjoyable.
The 45-minute run, on the other hand, is a challenge. Where we run means that we are doing this on a harder surface, with challenges such as mud and yappy dogs. We always run up hills, but there’s an extra one in this run. The good news? Trust me, you feel great after it. And it does 9,000 steps. We usually do this on a Sunday, to put me in a good mood for the workday ahead and to allow Emma a day to work without having to think about walking.
What all the runs do is start the day off in the right way. The name of this feature is keep moving. So you don’t have to run, but you should always go out just before or after breakfast in the morning. To give you energy to work, or to take the pressure off walking, whatever your motives – time spent out in the morning makes the day, in my opinion at least, absolutely incredible. It’s exercise, but it needn’t be horrible.
Next month’s Keep Moving will relate to the topic of the month