Running myself into the ground

Running myself into the ground

In recent weeks I have started a bit of a fitness regime. I have been feeling my age for a few years, and while I didn’t really have to put much effort into staying reasonably ‘fit’ during my youth it turns out that you start feeling tired and energy-less when you hit your forties.

This cannot stand, and so I have restarted running. This has been more difficult than I imagined.

I have never really been able to sustain any self-enforced fitness programme, so I decided to augment my enthusiasm for such a thing by buying a fitness-based smart watch. I can’t afford an Apple Watch, so I decided to buy a Fitbit Blaze. I found that I couldn’t afford that either, so I decided I’d better save up for something. Then Amazon Prime day came along and they had the Garmin Vivoactive for £60 off and I just HAD to get one.

So I did.

I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and for an infrequent runner like me it is perfect. Well, not perfect, but certainly excellent value for money for the amount of functions it provides. The low-quality screen is good enough and doesn’t drain the battery like many other watches of its type – I only really need to recharge every couple of weeks, and I’d have to recharge every night with an Apple Watch. It’s GPS accuracy is great and I’ve found it a great motivational tool to get out and run or walk.

It also provides some useful exercise information which can be shared with friends and used for keeping track of progress. Here’s my latest run.

Note that this is pretty slow, but pretty acceptable for a chap nearing 50. I’ve also linked in my existing RunKeeper and Strava accounts so that they stay in sync.

I don’t know where this is going or how much improvement I can get. I’m feeling good about it at the moment and intend to keep going. I’ve joined the gym at work and I’m starting to add in some strengthening exercises into my week. I’m just trying to keep the decrepitude away for a little bit longer, but I’d also love to just get down to running a 5k in a 5 minute KM pace. I have some way to go for that.

There are posts in this blog from previous (failed) attempts at getting more fit. I’ve already exceeded the number of continuous weeks of exercise from those attempts and I do feel a lot more motivated than in previous years. The new tech is part of that, but also the feeling of impending infirmity. I’m increasingly aware of my age and the fact that I want to enjoy a good few decades with my lovely wife and daughter. I want to live it well, not feeling like crap.

I’m going to keep it going. Yes.

So I ran a 5K


flickr photo shared by maHidoodi under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

So, it’s 2016 and I’m not getting any younger. The last few years have seen me display some slight signs of the impending decreptude inherent in the aging process, of which I am hurtling through at an alarming pace.

I’m 46, and for the first 40 of those years I was as healthy as you like, with virtually no effort on my part. I did a little bit of exercise here and there, but didn’t really need to watch my weight or put much effort in to maintain a basic level of fitness.

StaplesWhile my weight has somehow managed to stick to a healthy-ish 12 1/2 stone my fitness levels have suffered quite a bit. This started, mostly, with me stuffing up my knee in my late 30s, then having a knee operation (ACL reconstruction – ouch!) and becoming a bit of a couch potato. I’ve done a bit of pilates here and there to help with the knee and had a couple of aborted fitness campaigns along the way, but I have finally bitten the bullet and joined a gym.

I started a new job in December at the University of Nottingham. I work at the King’s Meadow Campus and we have own own little gym here. It’s a little compact, but has enough machinary to ensure that I can use something different every day if I wanted – treadmills, cross-trainers, rowing machines and free weights (among a host of other devices). They also run a few fitness programmes throughout the week.

Today I did some pilates-like stretches on the mat before setting myself a bit of a stretch by running 5k on a treadmill. This took me about 32 minutes and caused me to go a bit red in the face.

I can’t say with any honesty that I particularly enjoyed the whole experience, but I do feel a little better afterwards, having stretched out my lungs properly for the first time in years. Perhaps I can put off the decrepitude a little longer. I’ll have a go, seeing as I’ve signed up to the gym for a minimum of 12 months. Might as well use it seeing as I’m paying for it!

(Top photo used through Creative Commons – image courtesy of Farhad sh on Flickr)

Peak fitness

Back in the day (and I mean way back) I used to really enjoy the odd day traipsing about in the hills with friends. I ended up lugging my (then) skinny frame around the Brecon Beacons during my RAF Trade Training and I’ve been known to visit Snowdonia and The Lake District from time to time. I’ve been up the tallest mountains in England and Wales and I’ve gone for a run around one of the smaller lakes near Ambleside.

This was all in my youth, a period of my life that seems to be becoming more distant in my memory. It’s not that I’m ancient or anything but I’m approaching 40 and the stuff I used to do in my early twenties almost seems like it was done by someone else.

However, apart from some dodgy knees and a lazy disposition I’m actually in rather good health, so I was pleased when the Nottingham Flickr Group decided to organise a visit to the Derbyshire Peaks to see if we couldn’t climb some large hills and take some nice photos. Five of us turned out in the end and we set out from Edale in some half-decent British weather.

I say “half-decent” in that it wasn’t raining. This is always a good thing when walking in the Peaks but the overcast conditions didn’t really offer wonderful photographic lighting. Still, we were hear primarily for the walk (honest!) and at least we weren’t either getting drenched or boiled to death in an unlikely sunny day.

Derbyshire rocks I took my Canon 400D with me but I was intending to take as many “Through the viewfinder” shots of the day as I could. This technique involves me taking a second camera (an ancient Kodak Duaflex in my case) and taking a photo of the viewfinder of that camera with my dSLR. It sounds a bit odd, and it is. It looks odd too as I’ve attached an old Pringles tube to the Duaflex to cut out any light impacting on my photography. I got some very strange looks from people wondering why I was peering constantly into a tube of Pringles!

Notwithstanding my comedy photographic equipment we managed to stop taking photos long enough to wend our way up towards Grinsbrook Cough – a monster climb up a rocky slope. I’ve been up worse than this before (Scafell Pike I’m thinking of you) but my 39 year-old knees aren’t weren’t so pleased to be subjected to this sort of abuse. Still, considering my recent injury problems my knees managed OK on our way up to the top where we stopped for lunch and admire the absolutely spectacular views back down the valley.

Long way down This place is amazing. It’s not as rugged or as high as The Lakes or much of the Scottish Highlands but these Derbyshire Peaks are just bloody lovely. There was a bit too much cloud about and visibility could have been much better it felt great to have made the effort to lug ourselves up here and drink it all in. Our sandwiches certainly tasted better as a result.

After a short break we headed over the peaty hills. We visited a few more peaks (although I’m buggered if I know what they’re called!) before stopping for a well-deserved ice-cream at a farm not far from the finish. We were getting tired by now – none of us are getting any younger – and we were certainly ready for our pints at The Rambler in Edale when we arrived at the finish.

It was a really fun day with some great company. Special props to Dave for organising it and to Austen for the advanced driving tips in his car on the way there. Cheers fellas!

Knees a-poppin’

I would like to publicly announce the following: I’m a bloody idiot.

I’m married to a nurse. Nurses know medically-related information about all sorts of afflictions and injuries. People should take notice of advice offered by said nurses.

Legs (by rutty)This is why I’m a bloody idiot. I have failed to take the advice of my own wife, a registered nurse, and decided to risk my well-being by taking part in a game of five-a-side football last night. As a surprise to no-one I succeeded in exacerbating my previous knee injury, and I’m now in the possession of a swollen, stiff patella.

It’s my own stupid fault and I apologise profusely to my lovely, brilliant wife for being such a bloody idiot. It seems that my knee on my left leg has too much play in the joint and cannot cope with quick turns or over-extension of the limb. I managed to twist it slightly earlier in the game by stopping quickly but after a quick rest in goal I came back out, found myself with a glorious opportunity in front of goal and attempted to kick the cover off the ball. My shot was saved and my left leg stretched too far and caused my knee to complain with a stab of pain. I fell over in a dramatic fashion, eventually hauling myself to my feet and playing in goal for the rest of the game.

I love playing football but it seems that my knee just cannot cope with the strain. It’s time to pack up my boots and try something more sedate, like darts or snooker or something.

In other fitness-related news it seems that my press-up challenge is going quite well. My arms, chest and parts of my back are immensely stiff after completing the first two parts of the first week, but I’ve gone from being able to do 36 press-ups (in five rounds) on Tuesday to doing 52 this morning. I fell short of the required amount in the last round (I was supposed to do at least ten but could only manage 7) but I’m pleased that I seem stronger already.

We’ll see how this goes, but I’m fairly confident that I’ll see an improvement on Saturday when I get to complete the first week.

Can I do 100 press-ups?

I keep talking about improving my fitness and over the last few years I actually have done a little more exercise than I’m used to. However, getting on the cross-trainer every now and again really doesn’t count towards “getting fit”.

However, I’ve found a little six week program that might get me exercising regularly: the One Hundred Push Ups Program.

This will involve me spending a little time three days a week trying to build up to the goal of performing 100 press-ups one after the other at the six week point. 100 press-ups. All at the same time! Can I even do that?

The site offers some encouragement:

If you’re serious about increasing your strength, follow this six week training program and you’ll soon be on your way to completing 100 consecutive push ups!

Think there’s no way you could do this? I think you can! All you need is a good plan, plenty of discipline and about 30 minutes a week to achive this goal!

No doubt some of you can already do 50 consecutive push ups, but let’s face it, you’re in a big minority. Most of you reading this won’t even be able to manage 20 pushups. Actually, I’m sure many of you can’t even do 10.

However, it really doesn’t matter which group you fall into. If you follow the progressive push ups training program, I’m positive you’ll soon be able to do 100 push ups!

I can currently maybe do 15, maybe 10. I haven’t tried for a while but there’s only one way of finding out if I can do this isn’t there?

Let’s get to it!

Found via Mark’s Daily Apple and the fitsugar.

My glorious football career could be over

Well, all good things have to come to an end, eventually. It seems that my knackered old limbs are incapable of sustaining my inelegant lurches around the football pitch. I’ve succeeded in injuring my bad knee again.

Thankfully, it’s nothing like as bad as last time, although I doubt that I’ll be able to take any further part in this season. This was my first match since my first injury and it’s not much of a surprise that I manage to twist the same knee. I even managed to do it in the first ten minutes so that I then had to spend the rest of game keeping goal. Ineptly.

Clearly my knee is not up to the twisting and turning and I should probably give it up as a bad thing. I’m certainly going to stop playing for this season and only exercise my knees in straight lines (that is, not in a twisty-turny fashion).

My Dad tells me that bad knees run in the family. He’s had operations on his from all the abuse he gave his patellas while running around the 5-aside pitch, and I have an aunt who is similarly afflicted with clicky knees.

Bizarrely, my right knee, supposedly the good one, starting to double-click this afternoon. That was a little disconcerting. No doubt I’m actually going to have to consider some physiotherapy as I’m not intending dying anytime soon and these legs are going to have to transport me about for a good few years yet.

Wanting new joints

I’ve been suffering with a very poorly left knee over the last few weeks after a small tangle with a burly Yorkshireman on a football pitch. It’s taken a while to improve, but the swelling is almost gone and I can bend my leg as normal, although straightening it provides some pain still.

Due to my near leg-normality I decided it was time to restart exercising, so I hopped back onto the cross-trainer. I did 20 minutes both last night and the night before, so it seems that my left knee is fine. However, my right knee is another matter entirely.

I don’t know why my joints do this but some of them seem intent on creating loud clicking noises when I use them, especially when they’re under strain – like when I’m climbing stairs, or maybe running up a fake hill on the cross-trainer. Both my right knee and right ankle decided to perform a small symphony of clickiness while I was exercising last night and I really don’t like it.

It’s so loud! I’m not entirely sure why this happens but apparently it may be due to “relatively lax joint capsules that allows more than a usual amount of movement.”

I always wanted lax joints obviously.

At least I’ve not noticed any obvious pain since I’ve done this recent exercise and it looks like I’ll be able to get back playing football next week. I think I’ll need to get a good knee brace or something so that I’m offering some protection towards the persistent leg-mangling efforts of some of my workmates.