Thursday, 23 June 2011

My Fitness Story... - Ian

I've lost track of the number of weeks this has been running but welcome back to My Fitness Story... anyway. This week's guest contribution is by Ian who blogs at Northern Blokes Ramblings and his tale of how he motivated himself to train for the Liverpool marathon. So, here is Ian with his tale, which he has called:

Run Fat Boy Run – A Question of Motivation

Have you seen the film Run Fat Boy. Run? It’s not one of my favourite Simon Pegg films but the title seemed particularly apt for me.

I’ve had body issues since I was in senior school. I hadn’t been in a swimming pool since I left juniors. I knew I was overweight and was particularly embarrassed about how this “puppy fat” manifested itself. The problem was (is) that this wasn’t puppy fat. It has never melted away on its own volition. It’s pretty much always been there. It has inhibited me in many ways in which I won’t go into. The bottom line is though; it has always burdened me with low self confidence.

I’m not inactive. Over the years I’ve played football regularly and I’ve also bought every exercise machine under offer in Tesco or Argos. I must have had at least three ab crunchers, one step walker, a step glider and a Bullworker (remember them). I couldn’t get enthused about any of these machines though. I even joined a gym, went to the introduction sessions and attended a couple of times, but it just wasn’t right for me.

So in my mid twenties I reconciled myself to the fact that I was going to be this shape for the rest of my life, and exercise became something I did for fun, not to get me fit/thin. I still played 5 a side football weekly As long as I could play again the next week, I was happy.

Move on 15 years and the mid life crisis takes hold. Not in the midriff area, that is just as podgy as it ever was, but hadn’t increased. No. I’d come under a bit of pressure in my career and need to take stock of many things. I realised that I have probably missed out on some opportunities by not saying yes enough. I have fallen into the trap of doing what is easiest rather than best. I’ve invested a lot of time into my family and that provides enormous rewards in itself, but I’d started to think: are there other things that I could be doing that would make my life, and, by proxy, their lives better?

So I start to take opportunities that are afforded to me. I say yes more and end up doing things I wouldn’t have done in the past (like attending a reunion for example).

And I try to make things happen for me.

One of these things was entering a marathon. I didn’t enter it to get myself fit or to raise money for a charity. I entered it because I wanted to challenge myself. Running without a reason was always something of a waste of time for me. If there wasn’t a train departing in 45 seconds, or a left winger with a ball heading towards our goal then anything more than walking pace seemed pointless. So entering a marathon would be the biggest possible challenge. It wasn’t just the distance that would be an obstacle, it was my lack of motivation.

And so it seemed from the beginning. I paid my application fees for a place in the Liverpool Marathon taking place in October. I bought a pair of running shoes and started to run. On the first run, I’m ashamed to say, I was struggling after around 200 metres and ended up walking for great swathes of the 1.8km route. This knocked my confidence and I was reluctant to try the run all the way round for about 4 weeks. I still remember the sense of achievement that I got when I first completed the circuit without any walking but looking back, it was probably about three weeks after I should have done it.

I decided that other forms of exercise would be beneficial, so we ventured, for the first time as a family, to the swimming pool. The children loved it and we have been going fairly regularly since. I have to say that, although I do enjoy it, I am still very self conscious.

I started to play 5 a side again too. It was with a group of lads that was half my age. Literally. Luckily, they were as unfit as I was and I held my own. Then in the first minute of one game, I had the most excruciating pain in my left thigh. I thought I had torn a muscle. I couldn’t let the team down so I hobbled bravely on to the end of the first half and part way through the second before finally giving in to the pain. Getting home was difficult. Sleep was completely impossible.

This was the excuse I needed wanted to take time out from my running. The pain went after a couple of days, and I probably could have resumed a week or so later, but I am the king of procrastination so kept putting my return back and back.

Then I got a couple of donations to my just giving page and I realised that I wasn’t doing this just for myself. There were others that would benefit from meeting the challenge. It was just the impetus I needed. I am not good at doing things for myself but it was no longer for me. It was for my charity. I would just benefit from the process in a physical as well as mental way.

So I have now found a challenging, but achievable training programme on the ASICS website that I am not only following, but actually enjoying. The sense of achievement I got from doing my first non stop run, happens on a much more regular basis now, at least once a week. So the pride in my physical achievement and knowledge that I will be supporting a worthwhile charity have combined to give me all the motivation I need.

Thanks to Ian for writing this post today. I think Ian's story shows that sometimes, you need a little push to set you on the right path, and it can seem like a mountain to climb - but actually, once you've got started, the motivation comes more from within. Good luck with your first marathon later this year.

Feel free to share experiences, as always, in the comments below. My guest posters really do appreciate the messages of support they get from readers.

If you would like to share your fitness story, then please contact me on Twitter or email me on the address on the About Me page. All contributions are really appreciated so do get in touch, even if you feel yours is not a worthwhile story. If it's a personal experience, it is. I am particularly short of posts at the moment. Do please join in - or ask your friends if you know someone has a story to tell, even if they don't blog.

Thanks for supporting My Fitness Story... and do come back for another guest post next week.
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