I have been the editor of the Fitness Zone on Health24 for two years now and I thought it was about time I got a blog too, so here we are! And what better time to start a blog on fitness and exercise than in the first month of a year that is still full of such promise?
As the Fitness Editor it’s only fitting that I document some of the fitness trends and sports that I take part in and I would lvoe you to share your experiences, suggestions and any fitness tips you have as well. The more the merrier!
I’ll got first
Last year, I decided to incorporate running into my exercise routine. And for anyone who has ever started running you will know that it’s all very well to SAY you’re going to start running. Altogether another thing to put on a pair of running shoes, hit the road – and still be able to walk the next day.
Nevertheless, I had been dragged around a farm in the Karoo for a gruelling 8km and while I had been convinced for the first 5 that my lungs would explode and I’d end my days a crumpled heap on the dusty ground with nothing but confused sheep as witnesses – by the time I finished the run I was on a high like no other.
Sure, everything hurt and for a few days after that it felt like my muscles had all shrunk and were trying to crawl further into my body. But the high that I had lasted me the whole day. I’m not sure if it the fresh air, relief that it was over or pride at the fact that I’d done it, but whatever it was I like it.
Where it all began
So when I got back to Cape Town I wanted to run. Problem is I didn’t know where to start, and not being one to do things the easy way, I decided to find someone who could run with me and push me to run further and faster.
I ‘advertised’ online for a runny buddy in the area where I lived and a few weeks later I went for my first run with a girl who not only lived a few blocks from me but who also shared my name! A sign, no?
I have now been running with my buddy for several months, and although I haven’t entered any races, I could feel my running was getting better. How? Well my legs didn’t feel so rubbery after a run anymore. And I could step it up to twice a week rather than just once.
However, as I mentioned, doing things the easy way has never been my ‘thing’ and somehow this week I found myself driving out to Silver Mine Nature Reserve with my running buddy for my first race in the Cape Summer Trail Series. Now bear in mind I have NEVER run a race. And the most we ever ran was about 7km – on the road.
This was a 10km trail run. It was with 300-odd (in every sense of the word) other people, it was on a very rough mountain trail and it was very windy.
The hardest day of my life
Trail running, I have since found out, is not for sissies. It’s hard. Very, very hard. It is quite simply the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life.
Two kilometres in I wanted to give up and go home. It was so hard that my calves were tight, my heart-rate monitor claimed I had reached my maximum heart-rate – AND STAYED THERE, and I was seconds away from crying. It was horrible, I won’t lie. The only thing that kept me going was that I couldn’t be left alone on the mountain and I figured as long as I kept some other runners in sight it would be ok.
Five seconds later that idea went skipping happily out the window hand-in-hand with all my common sense and rationality. Somehow everyone had disappeared ahead of me and I was alone on a rocky road in the middle of the bush wondering if I would ever not be sore again.
However, just as I was wondering if it would be faster to just give up and head back the way I came or carry on and hope that I made it before it got dark another runner came up beside me and said “Come on, run with me, Slow and steady…”
It seemed like such a simple, reasonable suggestion that it would be silly to refuse. So I started running again. And I ran the rest of the way with this woman and her friends – and I finished the race.
It wasn’t easy and I have never had to concentrate that hard for that long ever. Every muscle in my body ached, my lungs were burning, my joints protesting and my eyes were burning. But I had to just forget about all that and concentrate on not slipping on one of the millions of little rocks while doing a weird combination of running and climbing up bigger rocks.
Every step required a little forward planning, so the screaming muscles just had to take a back seat until I was done. And by then they were done screaming and were in the corner rocking backwards and forwards, sporting a rather stunned and glazed expression.
The Grande Finale… sort of
I came last, but let’s face it, I was never going to be in the top 200 anyway! The point is I finished. I FINISHED!
And I’m alive.
And nothing is broken/twisted/fractured/pulled or otherwise different from when I started.
And if I can do it, so can you.
However, this is not the end of my self-inflicted torture as there are another 4 of these evens still to come and I have every intention of at least attempting to run them all. Even if I come last in every one. Someone always has to come last anyway, right? And the main thing is that I cross that finish line.
However, I do need all the help I can get, so any avid runners – road or trail or treadmill, I’m not fussy – PLEASE can I have some tips!! Any and all advice welcome! And feel free to share your stories too, the good, the bad and the ugly!