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30Cities - My plan for 2013

So, to the shock of door-staff the world over, next year I’m 30. I’m not sure I’ll feel it, but perhaps there’ll be some sort of coming to terms. Perhaps there won’t. But there’s no need for stress or worry.

There probably is some need for celebration, but I’m not up for planning that quite this early. Still, I would like to do something a bit different, and I’ve got an idea. 

Recently I’ve been thinking about what it means to be British. What with London 2012 and the greatness it gave us, I’m very proud to call myself that. But that I count myself British before English, and justify it by some Scotch roots, and a three year residence in (and remaining connection to) Wales does seem a little odd.

This year I’ve been lucky enough to get about the southern UK a little bit. Visiting Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Bedford, Bournemouth and some bits of Kent, I’ve met a range of varying British people, and sampled some of their tastes. Yet I’ve still only witnessed a fraction of those of the state I’m supposedly a patriot of. 

Truth be told, I’m still rather naive. For example, on arriving in Kemble, Gloucs for a wedding in nearby Bibury, I asked where the nearest cash point was. Kemble is a village where the only pub’s name is irrelevant due to its unique standing in the community - it is known simply as “The Kemble Pub”.  Yet I was surprised when a pub patron answered, “Cirencester…about four miles”. 

It’s a simple thing, but it’s revealing. I know very little of Britain. In terms of first hand experience I am at best a Kent-born Londoner, and I don’t know that much of Kent. It’s perhaps not wholly surprising, after all, who knows all of their country or state?

Patriots are proud to be of the nation state that they tie their experience of home to. They’re not necessarily proud of all of that nation state. Still it is informative, and the UK being the size it is, for my part there is something to be done about it.

Clearly I don’t know or appreciate the UK as much as I should. So what’s the plan? As much as it can be called one, this is: 

There are 69 cities in the UK. Next year, over a fixed period of yet to be determined length I want to run in or through 30 of them.

That should mark my 30th year in a memorable way, and at the same time allow me to witness not quite half of the cities the UK has to offer while greatly improving my experience of the state I’m so proud to represent. 

So there it is. My quite straight forward plan, unimaginatively titled “30Cities”. There’s very little in the way of details, but the plan is out there and that’s the commitment. 

You know what, it’s also rather exciting. 

Filed under 30Cities Running UK Britain

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A Bit of Change

It started with a job.Sort of.

Being active is something I enjoy, but in previous years I’ve saved most activity for the odd afternoon session once or twice a week. Or the occasional game of football or Aussie rules at the weekend. 

Four years back I completed a sprint triathlon. I did breast-stroke for 400m of a Dorney lake swim (which was hell), got a tyre blowout half-way round the off-road bike course and managed to complete it in a semi-respectable time…without doing much training. 

Earlier this year I joined Run Dem Crew, and with a bit of grit and determination I managed to finish the London Marathon. Crossing the line on marathon day should have been a defining moment for me, and in many ways it was.

But after the jubilation the old complacency set in. I was fortunate to get in to the VLM, to run, to finish and to raise my target amount of fundraising. And it all happened sort of in spite of me.

I mean, I tried. But I tried the maximum amount that was allowed by the shape I had allowed myself to be in.

The furthest I ran (well, moved) in training was 13 miles. The amount of fundraising events I did was precisely zero. And off the back of a sleepless week full of anxiety, the amount of shut-eye I had the night before the marathon was four hours.

I got round. I was in pain, fit to drop, but I got round. And then, somehow (with some enormous generosity from friends and family) I raised my money. 

The theme of ‘getting by’ spins around in my head like a mocking self-definition I no longer want any part of. Frankly, I’m bored of it. There’s enough people in the world who have to do their very best every day to ‘get by’, so to do very little and still achieve that level seems somewhat disrespectful. 

There are paralympians who have been through more than I can imagine and still strive for greatness. And yet I allow myself to just do enough.

I’m - perhaps - above average in fitness levels. Genetics, a childhood of athletics and football, and a general enjoyment of activity has seen to that. I eat quite healthily too. But I’m also prone to bouts of laziness.

Yet accepting all of these things as who I am is a bad idea. It’s far more constructive to accept the following:

I have potential.

At the start of July I began working as part of the team on the Nikefuel Station near Clapham South. The team, with a couple of exceptions, is made up of people the better part of seven to ten years younger than me.

These are ambitious, skilled and talented people, not content to merely do enough to get by. Many are one or more of faster, fitter, more flexible and stronger than me. They can do handstands. I cannot. They can do a half hour abs workout without feeling pain for two days after. I, apparently, cannot.

I’m not mentioning this as a comment on age. Because if anything I should be at my peak. But up until now I’ve been content to get by. Happy to just do enough, particularly where fitness is concerned. 

But what about that potential?

Well, I’ve started looking into it. I recently bought a kettlebell that I can’t comfortably lift in one hand. It’s 16Kg. I’m almost 6’6” and I can’t comfortably lift 16Kg one-handed. Make your own judgement on that, but I’m not wholly happy about it.

So, what am I doing? Some fairly simple exercises that will make lifting that 16Kg easier as time goes on.

The amount of standard press ups I can do without feeling like my arms are on fire? About 11. Yep. I could do ten with ease when I was in my teens. If anything, that means - rather unscientifically - my upper body strength has stayed pretty much stable while my weight has increased. 

That can’t be good. 

So, I’m doing more press-ups, dips and pull-ups (I can currently do one of the latter) to improve my upper body strength. And, to improve my resistance to ab pain after one workout I’m…you guessed it, doing more ab workouts. 

Of course I’m still running. I plan to do two half marathons in October, and I want to get round in good shape. In fact, I just generally want to be in good shape.

That being the case, every day, apart from when I feel my body needs time off, I’m exercising. Sensibly of course. There’s more common sense to it than any hard and fast plan. These are the semi-rules:

1) Eat well - more fuel and nutrients to fuel additional activity and workouts

2) Eat smart - actually care about food, ingredients and recipes

3) Train for at least half hour every weekday unless feeling the need to rest

4) Alternate running training with conditioning/strength workouts

5) Be rational 

6) Have fun

7) Explore potential

And that’s it. It’s a bit of change, and I’m already seeing some small improvements. In fact, I’m sure I looked in the mirror this morning and noticed a small amount of additional tone.

Filed under Fitness Potential Running Training