Thursday, January 10, 2013


It's January. Fitness gym membership goes through the roof, magazines for women are selling the latest diet or detox, new books are out promising the 'lose 10 pounds in 7 days' crap and men's health mag's with the 'great abs in 2 weeks' promise. The list goes on and on. I'm afraid  most plans when hatched at the end/ start of the year nearly always end up discarded by March. Everyone has the best intentions but it's basic human  pyshcology and so within a few weeks of hard effort the goals and dreams start to fade and the old habits return ... and the next year, the cycle is repeated. So what's the answer?

       In my humble opinion and from my own experience you have to start by setting small attainable goals, it could be something as simple as doing a brisk walk (ie quick, fast paced walk) for 30 minutes... or maybe a short run or a walk interspersed with sprints. As your confidence builds and fitness improves then look at a more ambitious plan with a target and a time table to achieve it. This could be food choices, fitness or preferably both but it must be a definitive target. For the more focused who have a proven track record of setting and achieving goals then one can be very ambitious indeed. I find most people who are like this have set their goals independant of year ends etc ... and I believe therein lies the secret. One should already know what your goals are and be already living a healthy and fit life independant of any arbritary calendar dates. Still, if you've made your mind up over Christmas and you're commited, then go for it. I think you have to either enjoy the experience and/or feel good about yourself for doing it. I believe we all have a responsibility to make the best of ourselves ... as well as a responsibility to our loved ones to be fit and healthy.
      At present I am in the middle of some serious body conditioning. I will be running a few smaller  events in the spring just to 'get my legs back' and so at present I am just doing easy 10-15k trail runs for fun. When running ultra's it is important to have 'downtime' where you do not stress your body through running. It is a time to strengthen your body and crosstrain or do different sports just to have mental as well as physical variety. Running and training for ultra's is stressful and the body needs time to rest and recuperate. This does not mean sitting on the sofa eating donuts!.....Sleep and clean nutrition is paramount.
      My goal is to strengthen and stretch, with sprints and HIIT's over the next 8 weeks so that I can start training in earnest for my next big event. I already know what I am going to do and it will put great demands on both my strength and endurance and so at 58 years old I need to be in 'more than' the best shape of my life, mentally and physically. At this stage I'll just give you a clue ... it's in the USA, of course. I am a sucker for American enthusiasm and I love the positive energy that the organisers and competitors bring to the big events ... and as a Brit, I understand what they're saying - which always helps... More on this later.
        In the meantime it's back to training 5/6 days per week and not going too crazy. Unusually for me I've had a few training partners over the last few weeks. My coach Paddy and I did some seriously heavy workouts together before Christmas and over the holidays I've been in the gym with my son, Alexander, who has really developed his physique through training, strict nutrition and no alchohol - not easy for a 21 year old. His friend Will has also been training hard and has done quite a few trail runs and hill sprint routines with me. It's great to see these kids getting it together and learning the importance of fitness and health whilst in their youth. If it becomes a habit now then it will stay with them all their lives -what a gift.
    Happy New Year to all.