Watch what you do, reap the rewards

This week has been uncharacteristically frustrating for me for more unexpected reasons. It wasn’t so much because of my fitness schedule but due to my laptop dying which has left me unable to actually post any updates. This coincided with me being on annual leave from work which meant I couldn’t even use my lunch hour for scribing.

Amongst my desperation to rescue what’s left of my wilting hard-drive I have managed to not only complete (for the most part) my clearout but also put plans in place to really kick-start the fitness kick.

Naturally this begins with a shopping spree – what else was I going to do with my time off?

Now that I actually have floor space in my room I felt it was imperative that I bought small and simple things that allow me to make the most of that space.

Items on my shopping list included:

* A workout mat
* A rollout wheel
* Push-up bars
* Fitness watch (with GPS)

Thankfully I’ve been saving up for a while which is handy because I have severe habit of “if I want it, I’ll get it” – essentially I am a retailer’s dream and usually my overdraft’s nightmare.

The first few items are pretty self-explanatory: a hard floor is highly uncomfortable and certainly no place work floor based workouts, a rollout wheel adds another dimension to my otherwise dull abdominal workouts and the push up bars allow me to get closer to the floor, thus working my chest that little bit harder. Plus, all of them come with a cute little insert that includes some “exercise tips” and various ways I can use them.

But it’s the watch which I have been craving for a long time. The watch is possibly the one thing that has held me back from really getting my health phase pulsing. The ability to be able to track the things I do and produce automated, tangible results is something I have yearned for longingly for the past six months or more (probably more).

I’ll go into more detail on a future post about my watch and the trials and tribulations involved in getting a fitness tracking device but I can summarise right now by saying that so far I am tremendously satisfied with the watch I bought and I’ve only had it two days.

Picking a fitness watch has already paid significant dividends for me; I gave it fleeting run-out on Wednesday with very short HIIT sessions after spending some quality time setting the blasted thing up. However, Thursday was when it got to showcase its undoubted potential. I decided to track my golf session.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t really sure how I was supposed to track this efficiently, other than it counting the amount of steps that I had taken, however the watch has an inbuilt GPS system and can also track the distance travelled even when you’re off the beaten path – especially handy for walking around the golf course.

And as it transpired, I covered 4.39 miles, of which I’m sure a relatively larger-than-I-care-to-admit amount was probably down to me having to go on off-the-beaten-trail walkabouts to (attempt to) recover my ball. (Thankfully I have a knack of finding the lost balls of other people so I somehow ended up with more by the end of the day than I started with.)

The great thing about it is that I have this black, strappy beast married to my wrist to constantly remind me that I’m sitting down too long and that I need to get moving – somewhat problematic when I work in an office but nevertheless, at least it’s trying. And it’s really hard to ignore something that’s literally attached to you throughout the day. That, for me, is the key solution to the equation I’d been fabricating in my head about how to continually motivate myself to, you know, stop being a lazy so-and-so. Indeed, I sneakily wore it whilst I played football that evening as well and clocked up another 1.61 miles in just under 30 minutes.

But the true test for me, and the sole reason I splashed out an obscene amount of £££ for a watch, was mostly for the ability to GPS track without having my phone on me – my second biggest excuse for why I’ve not done as much outdoor running as I could. And what better way to implement my latest training benchmark than to combine two into one: The Work Lap.

Okay, so it’s not exactly a glamorous name, granted, but I discovered that there’s a “loop” around my workplace that comes in at around 1.45 miles which is currently as good as I’m going to get in terms of 5k training (two laps of that is close enough for me). That loop is going to be my “benchmark” loop (for now) and every Friday morning I’m going to get to work early and do that loop. Timed.

It’s important to set challenges and goals because otherwise, in my opinion, your progression stagnates. You stop training as hard because you have nothing to challenge yourself with, no reason to push harder next week than you did this week, or even last week. And of course this won’t be the only target I set, but it’s going to hopefully be the first of many and a gateway to a better Me.

How did I get on, I hear you ask… Well, I completed the circuit in 12:21 – the breakdown as follows:

1.00 mile – 8:31.4
0.45 mile – 3:50.0
FINISH IN – 12:21.4

Obviously it’s difficult to figure out pacing over such a short distance but the overall average mileage was 8:35/mile and to be honest, the last half mile (ish) was across wet grass and a slow uphill so I’ll take that, that’s fine. It’s a benchmark, remember, not a PB.


On a side note, the App that I have for the watch tracks some very interesting, if not entirely useful-to-me-just-yet information that I’m sure over time will mean more to me. Until then, I’m just eternally grateful that the primary function of any watch I wanted to buy – to be able to track my run without my phone on me – was successfully fulfilled. And syncing the date from the watch the phone afterwards is super simple too.

I’m having difficulties with my ankle as well which ensures that any progress at the moment is purely superficial. But this is a big problem for me when it comes to wanting to run longer distances: primarily because I hate long distance running and it provides an abundance of time for me to contemplate the terrible choices I’m currently making and the realities of how soon I can stop doing it. Along my music-free run today I encountered a number of strange things, things I’m probably going to have to get used to:

* Being overtaken by another runner – within three minutes of my run!
* How people actively cross the road to avoid you – why? Do I scare you?
* What day bin day is – completely unimportant information, to be honest
* The nightmare of pavements – running on pavements with houses that have driveways; the changing gradients is woefully bad for you

On the flip side, the runner who overtook me did splutter a “good morning” and then disappeared off ahead into a trim-trail which I’m now curious to explore, so I guess it has some perks but it’s a very weird sensation getting overtaken by somebody when you’re running solo. Has it ever happened to you before? How does it make you feel? Answers on a postcard, please.

Until then, I will be spending my weekend in recovery mode (as usual) as I rest my ankle in a bed of ice and maybe divulge into some abdominal workouts come Sunday (sigh). I’ve been experimenting with some new Apps on my phone as well so stay tuned for some words on that.

For now though, I spent the best part of last night taking apart all of my old laptops in a Frankensteinian experiment to muster something up that vaguely resembles a functioning machine and with the ephemeral time I have – I shall be spending Saturday morning laptop-shopping.




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