Friday, March 11, 2011

Witness the Fitness - 2011 Edition

Greetings, peeps.

First off, I was going to post of photo of me to head this one off. But I have discovered the joys of uploading from your own camera - no photos of oneself. So you'll just have to imagine the changes taking place to my body. When I arrived in Scotland I was carrying a little more than I should be. Those of you that know me know that I've been carrying around a little more than I should be for a while. Apart from a brief stint in 2009 when some good living and training for a fun run shed a few excess kilos temporarily, I've been a lazy fat-arse most of my adult life.

But why, Craig? You were such an active kid.

I can trace my descent into unfitness to one moment (and its subsequent moments). Don't laugh, I'm serious, this really happened. On our 15th birthday we received matching blue all-weather jackets. Yeah, we got raincoats or our birthday - whoop de woop. I'll vent on our wretched birthday life in a future blog, don't worry. So what does this have to do with fitness? Thanks for getting me back on track. The day of our 15th birthday we wore our new jackets to school. We had quite a walk to school, after we were sprung using expired term bus passes because our parents neglected to renew them. I'll probably discuss that on a future blog as well. Damn it - I'll just promise to do the 'our childhood sucked because' blog next week, yeah? Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, walking to school in our new raincoats. So the walk to school was long, and the quality of the raincoats was high. Upon reaching school I was overcome with the most severe itching I have ever experienced either before or after. This was a diabolical itch that seemed to emanate from the crown of my skull and radiate all over my teenage body. In retrospect I assume my sensitive teenage skin was being attacked by noxious teenage sweat, but I really figured I'd been attacked with itching powder. So much so that I accused my brother of sabotaging my jacket with itching powder, a claim he vehemently denied. The itching was horrendous, and lasted most of the day. It is an enduring memory, and one that revisits me on occasion whenever that familiar itching occurs. which thankfully is not often. Oh damn it. I'm wearing a woollen jumper right now, and just writing this is bringing on the itch. Aaaarrrrggghhh. Oh God, make it stop.

Okay, I'm back after a short break. I hope you weren't itching too.

So this blue raincoat initiated a terrible itch the day of my 15th birthday. Following this episode it seemed that whenever I participated in any extended exercise (I was okay with brief bursts, the power of baseball, or the thrill of a sprint) this itch would return. I couldn't jog around the block (which I attempted to do for a while), walk for extended periods wearing heavy clothing, play any code of football - ANYTHING! It was as if I was allergic to my own perspiration. And this condition lasted for what seemed like years. By the time I was sure I was over it (and subconsciously I'm still not sure that I am) I had reached a level of unfitness that I have carried around my waist ever since.

I know it probably doesn't sound like much of an excuse, but I assure you it is true. It is actually a little cathartic to share this with you. I've never really told anyone. At the time (and for a period since) I felt shame at my condition. And I've remained angry at my body that I've been relegated to the role of 'puddin' for around 25 years. 25 YEARS!

So now (with fewer Bowls Club related distractions - KEV!) I am tending to myself. Oh please, don't be dirty. I am running to the gym and back, pushing myself quite hard through a demanding cardio regime in the process. I am eating better and drinking less. We are still enjoying good food (Rocpool, cnr Young St and Ness Walk the other night for instance) and the occasional tipple. A pleasant side effect of this is that I've become such a cheap date. One glass and I'm off me 'ed.

If you believe the scales I was 94kgs at my arrival in Scotland (I happen to think those scales were a little dodgy, but they were electronical and everything). I am now hovering around 88kgs, having bumped down to 87 last week. I am participating in a 5k fun-run on Sunday, after which I will add more resistance training to my schedule to burn off some more nasty fat. But whilst I'm a little frustrated to be stuck at 88kgs after all my hard work it's interesting to notice the changes. I've lost a lot of blubber around my face. A quick check of facebook will reveal New Years Eve photos of me wearing what appears to be a full on fat suit. Most of that excess is now gone. The pair of jeans that didn't fit when I arrived here I'm wearing comfortably today. I bought a new shirt a couple of weeks ago with a 39.5cm neck. I haven't fit one of those since I was a teenager.

I've still got the belly. Hell, it wouldn't be me without the belly, but it's getting smaller. And as I run more and improve my endurance and conditioning it's getting easier to run further and for longer. And it's become really enjoyable. Not only for the solitude and meditative reflection it provides during the activity, but also for the endorphic high and self satisfaction it provides afterwards.

Wish me luck for Sunday. Realistically I'll be expecting to run under 30 minutes. On best form I'm hoping to come in around 26:30. What I'm really hoping for is to let adrenaline carry me to under 25 minutes. I'll keep you posted. I just checked my last fun-run (the Run Melbourne 10k in July '09) and my 5k split was exactly 30:00min, and my second 5k was 33:13. I've already smashed that with my recent 10.77km run, passing the 10k in under 60 minutes, so I'll be looking to improve further this week.

Here are a couple of happy memories of that event:

And I shall finish today with one of the greatest cliches of health and fitness and running of all time. I expect you all to read it as if it's the first time you've ever read it, and give me the kudos for such magnificent insight.

If I can do it, anyone can.


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