Jez Davis on getting your training on target.
I live in a fairly small town so my tendencies towards fitness and healthy living aren’t a secret. In fact now and again someone I know will even approach me in the street and tell me of a new health commitment they’ve made. I love it when they do. I love that they’ve made the decision and I love that they’ve had the courage to vocalise it. That could easily go down as one of the best days in my relationship with that person. All too frequently however, a few weeks later sees a moment of significant sadness. I’ll explain with a fictional, yet typical, conversation.
FRIEND: Hi! Guess what – I’ve started running!
ME: That’s fantastic – it’s a brilliant way to get out of the house and get fit. Where are you running: in the woods; on the beach?
FRIEND: Oh, just the roads at the moment.
ME: No, that’s cool too. You might want to consider giving it a go on the beach when you’ve got the time though. It’s amazing to smell the salt as you run and the unevenness of the sand will really wake your ankles and calves up. But either way, you’ll feel the benefits in no time – nice one!
FRIEND: Great, thanks. I might give that a go. See you!
ME: Bye, let me know how it goes.
Two to four weeks later…
FRIEND: Hi again! Guess what? I’ve entered the Great North Run!
Alright, so that last response isn’t ever actually given but that’s what my head does every time. Why? Because at some point after that person identified a need, decided what to do about it and got on with loving the process of mental and physical transformation, their value system shifted and all of a sudden they thought that they needed to compare themselves with an external measure.
The first problem with this approach is perfectly described in the following quote by Erwan le Corre, namely that:
“It is common to see people, after years of neglecting their body, trying to reverse the negative physiological effects of decades of physical abandon by brutalizing their body back to fitness in a matter of weeks.”
But even if they don’t destroy themselves by forcing their bodies into a training regime they are totally unprepared for – where’s the joy gone? Where’s the fun of moving just for the sake of moving; of running because *today you feel like running* and resting because your body demands it rather than forcing it into another day of training because “that’s what the training programme says”? But the really sad thing is — even if they don’t break themselves, even if they complete whatever external task they’ve decided upon — that’s where they’ll stop. They’ll (quite literally in many cases) get the T-shirt and their post-event week’s rest will stretch to a fortnight, then a month and then a year or two later they’ll be telling people that they did the Marathon/ Tough Mudder/ IronMan once. And the T-shirt won’t fit anymore.
So why do we stop? Maybe it’s because over the last decade or so we’ve been fed the political mantra of ‘lifelong learning’, yet in reality this turns out to simply mean paying for a course and jumping through a hoop at the end. There’s nothing lifelong about it, other than trying to create a culture of eternal payment because what we got last year isn’t as good as what’s on offer this year.
But health doesn’t have to be like that. There’s nothing new under the sun and the brilliant thing is: WE NEVER GRADUATE. We just have to keep turning up and getting it done. If there’s anything we should take from consumerism it’s the concept of reusability, not built-in-obsolescence. Our health needs to be cradle to cradle; we carry the baton for the next generation to pick up and run with.
Because the truth is that for 99% of us – the ‘normals’, the Average Joes – it shouldn’t be about the Event; it should be about simply enjoying every day that we get to practice.