Updated: Sep 15
It's been a looooong time since I update my Journey to Fitness blog. (If you want to read the others find them here) It doesn't feel like a long time ago, but I checked - the last entry was August 2018!! Nearly two years ago!!! This wasn't because I haven't been exercising (although it's true I have had to adapt the plan I set myself a lot to fit around the demands of a growing business!), the main issue was simply that I didn't have the time to write up the blog! A weekly blog seemed reasonable at the time, but I realised with PowerKnapp growing in addition to my need to perfect and re-draft my blog a gazillion times, it simply meant I couldn't keep pace!
So here I am to try and keep track again! Not blogging meant I allowed my fitness to get sloppy. So what's happened? Well, I quickly realised that the 'Initial Plan', was, somehow, both ambitious and yet it lacked serious challenge, a combination that just equated to a lack lustre and yet time demanding fitness regime. The problem was it emphasised frequency over time and intensity, meaning that I was going out A LOT but not ever feeling really challenged. The idea of the plan was to 'truly reset' my fitness, but I didn't really appreciate how fit I still was at that point upon starting.
This meant I started off waaaaaay too easy. To be fair to myself, the idea was to delve into the idea of starting a program suitable for someone who has never done fitness before, to help advance my own experience and understanding to help clients make informed decisions about their fitness. I see now, that this was just totally unnecessary. I already have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area, and I forgot one of the most important factors of building any fitness plan - one size does not fit all. A plan should be built around the unique needs and aims of the person. And the 'Initial Plan' I had built did not do that for me.
As said, the intensity was just not enough. I sacrificed intensity too heavily and replaced it with frequency. I did this as I felt fed up that I was constantly nervous about challenging distances and sessions that I once used to glide through, worried I'll find out how unfit I had become. The easy runs etc. made me feel more comfortable about heading out, and for a short time, it really did help me get out the house and got me into a routine. But the progress was so slow and the reality was that fitness became an inconvenience. So instead of improving my relationship and motivation with fitness, if anything, it made me more anxious and stressed about the lack of progress. With my background in sports therapy and my own running experience, I should have known better, and I think I let that get to me, worsening my mental health surrounding my fitness.
Nothing is worse than feeling you're in the shadow of your former self. On top of that, knowing that I know better and I shouldn't have been so foolish and wasted that time compounding the thoughts of inferiority. Fitness shouldn't have been making me stressed, fitness should have been a outlet.
So what did the Initial Plan/Phase 1 actually include then? The plan was to last 26 weeks, and take me from a 1km run to 10km, whilst also gradually increasing the duration of my circuits, swimming and cycling. I also incorporated maintenance yoga, foam rolling and more traditional stretching.
This doesn't sound too bad does it? ;) However, the plan outlined, that, to get to my end goal, I would need to complete 457 unique sessions. Why? Fuck knows. I justified it to myself. I wanted to get about 7 hours of fitness a week in and to do that, with the huge slash in distance and session intensity, it would require nearly 28 sessions a week. Which, looking back, was absurd and totally unsustainable. Even being self employed and having control over my time, it just was never going to work. But I was proud of the plan I'd put together at the time and hence was blind to the sheer flaws, thinking it'll eventually get better...
So here I am. 2 years later on what should have been a 26 week fitness journey. I haven't done badly, and I followed as much as could, exercising nearly every day. But as lockdown hit, halting my progress on swimming and indoor cycling, it made me reflect on what I'd achieved. One of the big aims of Phase 1 was get my confidence back to do 10km, and yet I almost feel more nervous than ever to attempt the distance. The rate of progression was just too slow - I think to call it progression would be generous! I stand by my thought process and intention for Phase 1 - steady progression is essential for low risk of injury and building confidence - but the reality was that I just wasn't going forwards, if anything, I was going backwards.
Yoga became a new outlet for the lack of swimming and indoor cycling during Covid-19 lockdown. I really enjoyed it and it was something I had been meaning to do since the beginning of 2018, but just never got into a habit. I must have done nearly 50 hours+ of yoga in lockdown alone. But as much as I was feeling my core develop, it wasn't enough to counter the lockdown stress diet!!! Yoga at least wasn't bound by the limitations of Phase 1 and hence was more productive. The aim was to do 10 minutes of yoga per massage appointment booked, as the massage often causes stiffness particularly around the hips and back, and I find yoga a productive means to release and develop those more finer core muscles to tolerate the demands of administering sports massage better.
So what (little) did I at least achieve in this Phase 1 fitness wise? Time wise I completed:
Swimming: 1 hour 11 minutes 3 seconds (3.18km)
Indoor Cycling: 6 hours 33 minutes 49 seconds (200.2km)
Circuits: 34 hours 41 minutes 25 seconds (320.01km)
Running: 33 hours 20 minutes 20 seconds (413.1km)
Other fitness based maintenance:
Administering Massage: 211 hours 2 minutes 30 seconds
Foam Rolling: 13 hours 10 minutes
Stretching: 11 hours 20 minutes
Yoga: 59 hours 10 minutes
TOTAL = 370 hours 29 minutes and 7 seconds (772.66km -so I didn't even get new shoes!!)
This may sound a lot, but remember this divided over two years means I averaged about 30 minutes of exercise a day. This, in all honesty, isn't awful. But, this is almost half of what I was aiming for (7 hours a week), and, remember, most of this 'exercise' was low intensity mainly being compromised of my massage and yoga.
So if you hadn't read my previous Journey to Fitness blog entries, I decided that I should consider my sports massage when thinking about fitness targets, as sports massage is a physical and, at times, a very demanding hands on job. I previously found that without this consideration, I was burning out; too tired for a quality run and unmotivated at work. I ultimately decided that per hour of massage, I'd have done the equivalent of 15 minutes of exercise.
Stretching and Foam Rolling were under a similar rule to Yoga, but instead of the amount of rolling/stretching being determined by my massage workload, for every 30 minutes of exercise (swim/circuits/run/cycle) I would do 10 minutes of either stretching or rolling.
As much I wish I had reviewed this sooner, I did learn a lot from this. Including that, when it comes to fitness, be sensible, but fuck the excuses and just go for it. Urgh, I'm going to sound like my dad or something here, but you're only young once, and I've wasted the last two years of fitness on a project that, as said, was entirely unnecessary, and allowed my insecurities to justify and dictate something that was really important to me - my fitness. But no more. I'm taking control. And I'm motivated more than ever.
BTW - The 3/4 Tights on the right pic are here ---> Men's CEP 3/4 Training Tights
As it stands, I have completed 91% of 'Phase 1/Initial Plan', the majority of the sessions outstanding being mostly swimming as a result of Covid-19. I do intend to finish Phase 1 (I have a particular thing about when it comes to finishing things off), but even with gyms and pools reopening, the other half and I don't feel comfortable going often to them. But instead of waiting around for Covid-19 to clear up, I thought, fuck it, lets start a new plan, one which learns from my mistakes. Enter Phase 2!
I'm going to do a separate blog about my intentions for Phase 2 and what that entails. I wanted this blog entry to be almost some closure to Phase 1 and reflect and open up about how it's okay to fuck up but also the importance of guidance, progress and mental health. If you're a person who's trying to motivate themselves, I'd suggest:
Never underestimate the importance of clubs and coaches. They really motivate you to get out the door and the direction given by a trained and in many cases very experienced coach can be invaluable.
If you start and don't see progress, don't blindly carry on. Stop, review and think what's not progressing and think about if you need to up the frequency, the intensity, the length of those sessions or maybe even change the exercise/sport entirely.
Fitness is meant to be a stress relief. Your fitness should not deteriorate your mental health. If it does, have think about how you approach fitness- are your goals to ambitious, are you being hard on yourself? If even a failure of minor objectives like splits and pace get you down, maybe stop looking at the stats an reconnect with the activity and why you were doing it in the first place.
I really let my insecurities control and restricted me from really tapping into my potential and using my fitness and training experience and knowledge effectively. If there's something to come from it, I am more passionate and driven to get fit. I haven't dared weigh myself in a while, but I know I'm bigger and unhealthier than ever before!! But I'm ready to go again and I feel like I can only go up! I'm kind of excited to measure myself up again and begin a plan which I'm more comfortable, confident and pumped to get underway.
I've taken my past fitness for granted - I always felt like I was just average and I see now that I was fucking awesome and I want that again; but this time I won't take it for granted - and I will push harder to make myself better and use the blog to document my journey; as I compete at higher and higher standards surpass by younger self, striving for personal bests! But not in just running. There's another area in athletics I want to develop... but you'll just have to read the next blog entry to find out about all that! ;)
Until next time!
Your friend and get fitter-er