By the time I was 48 years old, I was a proper fat lad. I ended up going running to try and do something about it. What an epic fail that turned out to be.
Some people are born to be fit and healthy. Some people are born to eat cake. That’s one conclusion you might draw.
The fact is, staying fit beyond forty gets harder and harder - especially when you start from a low base.
I’m now aged 53. I stand 6’ 2” in my socks and weigh… a lot. I look like a gone-to-seed rugby player.
Anyway, the trick to it is not to get fat and unfit in the first place. But we can’t all be athletes and we don’t all find it easy to keep fitness on the agenda as we go through life.
The journey begins…
Here’s how I began my journey to an epic fail…
It was a warm, sunny day in June, 2013. I knew it was warm because I was sweating while sitting on my arse doing nothing.
The past month hadn’t been great. I started to develop some health problems and buying new clothes involved finding the ones with the most ‘X’s on the size label.
It was time to do something about it.
So, my wife suggested we go for a walk. That seemed like a good idea on such a lovely day. So, off we went.
We did about a half mile and I was a sweating mess. My lower back ached and I had pain in my shins.
We had to turn around and go home.
After I recovered, I decided I would go walking the next day. The result was the same. As it was the day after that.
Eventually, it started to get easier. In fact, a year later, I was out on an 8-miler and moving so fast, I broke into a run.
“I’m going to be a runner…”
“Brilliant, I’m so fit now, I can become a runner,” I thought. Stupidly.
I kept running. If you can call it that. It was more like a fat boy shuffle. But I did begin to lose weight. And I did start to feel stronger.
Then, the injuries started. Shin splints, ITB, blisters, a swollen knee - you name it, I had it.
I kept going, running when I could and cycling/walking when I was injured.
Then I decided to train for long distances. Here’s what happens when you try to run 20 miles on a hot summers day and you’re built like a tank.
You melt. Then you near a state of collapse. But during the summer of 2015, I ran at least 20 miles every Sunday.
Getting the miles in
I’d decided to run ultra marathons, not just road marathons. Don’t ask me why. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
It was during that time that I contracted Pneumonia. That put me out for a month.
Once I recovered, I started hitting the big mileage. Until part of me broke again. This time it was a chronic pain in my right knee.
It took doctors nearly a year (well, waiting 3 months between appointments didn’t help) to decide I had Arthritis in my right hip. That was causing the pain in my knee.
By this time, I’d run:
- A 10K
- Several half marathons
- A road marathon
- An ultra marathon
I still thought I was a runner.
The failure had happened. The epic part was around the corner.
All this time I was convincing myself that I was a runner. And that running was the right thing to sort me out.
In some ways it was. I did lose weight and I did get fitter. BUT I hit a plateau where I could couldn’t improve beyond it. Every time I tried, I’d end up injured.
There was me thinking I could be a fast, long distance runner. All I had to do was look in a full length mirror. The evidence was and is in front of me. I’m a big, hefty unit. I’ve got no chance of running well.
It’s not all bad…
One thing, one valuable thing all the running did for me was get me fit enough to consider other options.
These days, I tend to walk for miles and miles. At a good quick pace too. And I have a little workout routine I can do at home - planks and running up and down the stairs repeatedly are included for example.
So, running might have been an epic fail, but at least I’m fit enough to walk for miles and hold a plank for a decent amount of time.