Operation Battlecat (part 2)


Back already? Okay, let’s get on with it. I’ve already talked about barrier number one, and as I’m not typing this one-handed while I use the other hand to cram marshmallows into my sobbing face, I guess I’m making amazing progress already. Yaaay me!

So onto the next Barrier to Runningness…

2. Not just running

I’ve talked about this before, but never really done anything about it. I guess I thought that good intentions were enough to whip me into superfit shape, without actually having to put them into practice. Um… Nope.

I used to do quite a lot of martial arts when I was younger, and in the absence of any deeper knowledge of how fitness worked, we used to do tons of press-ups. I did a bit of cardio (usually jumping up and down on the spot in excitement at the prospect of doing more press-ups) but back then I was mostly about upper-body strength. Running was always something I avoided, mainly because I was rubbish at it. I was slow, I was uncoordinated and the general effect was one that left witnesses unsure whether they should laugh or cry. Like when you see a clown being eaten by a tiger. Then, one day (long after knocking the martial arts on the head) I finally decided to give running a proper go and realised to my immense surprise that I could do it without exploding like a big wee-and-shame filled balloon. I caught the running bug and before long it became the only kind of training I wanted to do.

I wanted to get better at running, so I ran more. At the time, it made perfect sense.

That worked up to a point, but a couple of years have passed now and I keep getting a feeling of being out of balance. To put it bluntly I’m now as weak as a tiny arthritic kitten. My friend Dan, who writes an excellent blog and is a bit of a running/fitness guru, recently wrote about an epiphany he’d had. Dan has been running ultras for a while now, and has discovered that by cultivating all-round fitness rather than just racking up endless training miles, his running has improved both in terms of performance and sheer enjoyment. I’ve decided that I want some of that.

I recently finished a charity runstreak, which well-and-truly taught me that, as much as I love running, it quickly became a chore when I was doing it every day. I’ve decided that running less actually works out in my favour, as it means that every other day can be spent doing (to use a highly scientific running term) Other Stuff. Time for some more bullet points…

  • A couple of gym sessions a week. Weights have always mystified me, so rather than drawing up a timetable that includes stuff like “Monday = arms. Wednesday = shins. Friday = spleen” I’ll instead look into starting off with stuff like squats, pull-ups and throwing tyres around like a disgruntled orang-utan. I’ll be pestering my old pals Ski and Dan for help with this one, as they know more about this sort of thing than I ever will, even if I live to be a million (and I have to face up to the possibility that I might not).
  • I really want to work on my core strength. I’ve often banged on about how a strong core is essential for runners, both in terms of performance and injury prevention, and yet I’ve never really practiced what I preach (beyond the occasional half-hearted plank). If I was the chap off of the Insanity videos I’d probably take this opportunity to shout “let’s blitz that core, yo!” and then high five myself.
  • Speaking of which, I dabbled with the Insanity workouts a couple of years ago and wouldn’t mind giving them another go, maybe just once a week to mix things up a bit. I’ll need to be discreet though, because if the aforementioned gym duo Dan/Ski find out I’m doing it, they’ll lock me in a cupboard again.

So that’s about it for step two. Huge thanks for all the comments and tweets – it’s great to know I’m not the only one in need of a little Battlecat in my life.

You’re ace. Bye!


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