Anna: Getting Fit and #tryingstuff

Today’s post in #tryingstuff comes from Anna. Anna lives in London and has recently embarked upon a journey to improve her fitness. I asked her to chime in with some thoughts and she’s made some simple and wise observations about what has worked for her in making steps towards becoming a runner! (And if you missed yesterday’s post on #tryingstuff from Susan be sure to check it out!)

*Disclaimer: I know nothing. Particularly about fitness.

When Beth first asked me to write something for whilst she is away (squee how exciting!) I was a “little,” read very nervous, about what I could possibly offer. She is so deliciously clever and active and wonderful and then there is me.

My second disclaimer: I am an overweight completely unfit behemoth of an Englishwoman. Seriously. There is no reason you should listen to a word I’m about to say.

But, (and obviously with me it is rather large),if I can get outside and actually get my heart racing then so can you!

I used to be relatively sporty, I loved to play hockey (of the field variety) and I was quite a “spirited,” read violent player! Playing 4 times a week was probably the reason I didn’t balloon quite so much until my university years. Playing once a week and doing little else was pretty damning for my body.

Anyhoo, enough beating myself up, time for change.

Time for me to talk about those first steps towards starting to move and perhaps inspire you to do the same.

There are 5 things which helped me get of my sofa and into my almost stride.

  1. Walking everywhere for a month. I found a short 2km route (basically around the block) and tried to do this as often as possible for a month to try and speed up every time. Even if I shaved a second off the previous day I was happy. (Even if I didn’t I’d walked briskly for 20mins and that was still impressive for me!)
  2. My Nike Fuel band. I’m sure it’s just a pricey inaccurate bracelet but this pricey inaccurate bracelet has pushed me more than I ever thought possible. It’s made me want to get off the train a stop early and walk the extra distance home. It’s made me walk short distances instead of getting the bus. It’s made me giggle that I walked an extra 4km around an industrial estate because I got lost. It’s made me jog around the house to collect those few extra points before midnight. It’s made me get up a 5am, go for a walk and actually be happy I did it! Seriously, find what makes you want to do more. If that’s as simple as a pedometer or even mapmyrun, make it happen. I’m not going to lie; the pretty graphics and app do make me want to go further!
  3. C25k. (The name of this app scares me each time I look for it on my phone. There’s no way I can run 25k. Yes, I am an idiot!) But it’s great. Couch to 5km. I’m only at week 4 but it feels nice. (Well it did but more on that in a moment!) It starts off slow, one minute of running. Sounds easy, right? But at the end of the one minute I wanted to curl up and die. Oh the deep breaths. Yet for a strange reason I continued and continued and continued. My promise to you. After than teeny tiny first run of one minute, everything seems so much simpler. You just keep going. I mouth my little heart out to the cheesiest of songs as I run/walk and it feels good.
  4. Trainers. Conventional wisdom states not to spend lots of money when you first start out. However, I am prone to blisters and one of the reasons I think I am still trying is because I bought a pair of Vibrams and my feet love them. Not even a whisper of a blister. Find the trainers. I actually enjoy moving in these. They are light and tactile. I don’t really understand gait analysis but I’ve always had a penchant for a toe-heel style even when I wore “normal trainers” so they are perfect in my mind! (It helps that people have compared me to Maura Isles and that I completely agree!)
  5. SPORTS BRA – Oh crumbs, please protect the girls. As one relatively busty girl (who’s seen many boobs – I’m a doctor not a pervert) to every other lady. Please wear one. Spaniel’s ears are for spaniels only.

There are also a few things not to do

  1. Fancy gear. Yes ignore what I said about trainers. I started my little runs in the dark (which may not have been the best idea) but no-one cares what you look like. Well if they do, they should probably make fun of my daytime style choices instead. Oh yes, I be a power clasher. All the fancy gear is expensive and probably a little too small (as you bought it optimistically..ahem). Wear your favourite old shirt and some cheap leggings.
  2. Don’t be tempted to do too much. I don’t know if rest days are really important when you are doing as little as I am but my body sure likes me when I do rest so it can’t be a bad thing.
  3. Don’t try to work out sporadically. Have a routine. I like Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. No particular reason but I have those days in my head and I have to do stuff on those days. Obviously it’s no big deal if I don’t I am not going to punish myself but if you have your 3 days everything else is a bonus!

And now to that moment I mentioned earlier. 3 weeks ago, I was on my second run of week 4 and enjoying it muchly—actual running for 3 minutes! Sounds ridiculous and almost nothing but I was doing it. Doing it so well I was flying, literally. I tripped over something, myself or tree root. I flew through the air and crashed to the ground, so impressively cars stopped (in London!!). I was a few hundred metres from home and flushed with embarrassment that I told everyone I was fine. I hobbled home. I did almost finish my last run but not quite as quickly as I imagined.

I was helped into the bath by my husband, who tended to my bloody wounds. Impressive still! The next day I realised my wrist was more painful than it ought and since then I’ve had 15 x-rays and I’m lined up for an MRI. I’ve got no obvious break but perhaps ligament damage hence the MRI. All I know is that I’m taking many, many (prescribed) drugs, typing with my non-dominant hand and wearing an old lady brace.

Then struck by flu as my end of term beckoned I’ve been in bed for a week. However last night in exchange for dinner fun the husband suggested I go for a walk with him. Getting back on the horse is a little scary. I’m a faller. I fall a lot usually without much to complain about but the fear was there. (Incidentally it was 13 years since my house burnt down on Easter Monday and when we left the house the husband informed me he’d just put the washing machine on. Cue extra panic and a desire to get home quickly!)

We went a different route. I wore my glasses and it was daylight and there was warmth in the air. But it was good. I ran for a minute at a time, 3 times. (Almost coughed up my lungs after the first but I still did it!) It hurt. Oh crumbs, it hurt a lot but that was just my wrist. The wrist will heal and it will heal as I try to get back to week 4.

There is no after, yet. Although is there ever an after? But here is my now and I do hope it not be my after. Thank you for listening!

6 Replies to “Anna: Getting Fit and #tryingstuff”

  1. Anna! You are a brilliant writer. I chuckled several times while reading this, and I am usually a silent reader. I admit, I spent several minutes confused about trainers, because my mind went to the people who help you lift weights at the gym. Hehe. Love your writing, lady, and your spirit! Keep at it!

  2. Loved this post, Anna. I am not a runner either but would love to get into it! I’ve heard great things about the nike wrist band (ahem pricey inaccurate bracelet) so glad to hear its working for you too. May have to invest. Get well soon. Ps. My husband uses this crazy app called ‘zombies run’ which certainly gives you an incentive to run!

  3. I am also a big guy who struggles with his weight. I decided I needed to start running and followed a course very much like yours. Like you, the first time of actual running was agony with my lungs about to burst. Couldn’t have been more than a block. But I did it again, and then again, and then again. The first time was in February and in May I ran in a 5K race. I was very slow, and in great discomfort, but I finished. So I did another one the next month and by the end of the summer i did a couple of 10 Ks. Again, very slow but I did them. I was still a pretty big, overweight guy, no one would mistake me for a runner!!

    I discovered I had a talent to just start running and keep running very slowly 5 mph (sorry, can’t do the conversion to kilometers) but still running. I’ve never come to an end of a race and been spent and done, I could have kept going. Mental toughness has been my limit, not my body.

    So over that winter my LSD (Long Slow Days) kept getting longer until I was doing a 20 mile run once every month. It was no big deal, I just did it. At the beginning of my second summer of running I ran a 1/2 marathon (averaged 10 minute miles-2 hours, and 32 minutes). Ran another one in the fall and in the spring of my third year I ran a full marathon (5 hours and 10 minutes).

    From humble beginnings, good things can come–hang in there and keep plugging away!

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