It was only the second day of 2014 and we were on our way to Nirvana Spa with four friends for a complete veg out after a manic Christmas and New Year. A brief spell in the gym, was complimented by a blasting session on all those worked muscles in the hydrotherapy pool. After a swim in the roman pool we swanned into the restaurant in our complimentary dressing gowns as luncheon was served. An afternoon snooze was briefly broken up by a session in the floatation pool where we drifted around in a semi-conscious state for forty minutes. Afternoon tea and cake, more lounging and then the reluctant journey home sadly saw the end of the pampering for the foreseeable future. Training had to resume and it had to move up a notch now as the post holiday blues had booked a visit to the emotional receptors in my brain.


So, chuck yourself into a Pilates and book a class. ‘Damn, it’s full.’ ‘What else is on the gym’s list of exercises for the new year.’ ‘Core Blimey?’ Yes that is a question and coincidentally the resulting greeting to myself for the next four mornings as I attempted a seating position from horizontal.

Core Blimey was a half hour session of brutal abdominal work and one I could easily have bailed out of after five minutes as the other two victims grimaced their way through the exercises. At the end my crumpling form must have resembled the last throws of a dying creature desperately trying to hold onto what life was left in it after this inhumane pummeling.

I made sure I booked on to next weeks Pilates, just in case I was tempted to do this madness again, thankfully there was salvation as my request was granted.

Sunday run

It did take a lot of will power to get up for an early breakfast before the long run on Sunday. I haven’t done any great distance for a few weeks now, so to mix it up I chose to do the reverse of the last long run and thankfully I didn’t have the call of nature that made it so notable last time.

Interval running is nuts

Right from the go I have found the hardest part of the training was the threshold runs. Motivation is hard to come by, but their inclusion in the schedule was looking to be more important than just a masochistic exercise, if my extensive readings into the subject were to be believed.

Enter St Albans Striders, a local running club that meet up three times a week offering a myriad of running craziness to indulge ones self in. Tuesday nights, amongst other activities, included two types of interval training. I opted for the track based ‘Double Pyramid’, how hard can that be? The answer is ‘very hard!’ but at least there were 50 others grimacing and puffing away as we ran at effort for 300m, rest, 400m, rest, 500m, etc. up to 600m, then 500-400-300-400-500-600-500-400-300. This was a good move, so subscription to the Striders would follow.

Personal training

I arrived at Westminster Lodge a good 45 minutes before my session with a personal trainer so I could get warmed up on the stationery bike. Louis and I discussed my goals and took a few measurements with some sophisticated gadgetry that analysed various indexes and ratios of muscle and fat and then some less sophisticated instruments like a stick to measure my height.

First stop in the gym was the Powerplate. This piece of kit intensifies any effort by rapidly vibrating the crap out of your body while you try and hold on and complete various exercises. Twenty minutes later, after some work on the Cube and a comical walk around the gym doing weighted lunges, I felt satisfied that I now had some plan for working the right parts of my body for the months ahead. What better way of spending the next hour than in a Pilates class stretching out and toning the core that had had the blimey knocked out of it last week.

Foolishly, just as I was about to leave, Louis mentioned that he ran a Running Club on Saturday mornings and he would book me in so we could look at my running style.

With that in mind, the next morning I thought I would jog down to Westminster Lodge on such a beautiful day and it would be a good warm-up. Once in, 30 seconds on the treadmill was all it took to look at my general style, have it assessed and then modified to include a longer stride. Then, without warning, Louis flicked around with the controls of the treadmill like a crazed professor on the verge of an important discovery, only the insane laugh was missing from the scene. Nine minute mile pace, six minute mile pace, nine again, then up to six, nine, six, then waking pace all with the same stride. My legs were so confused when I got off the treadmill, they had trouble finding their way to the water fountain.

We then proceeded to do numerous weight repetitions for each leg (when I say we, I meant me) until these limbs could barely communicate with the rest of my body to say that this was enough. Thank god the session was only thirty minutes long. I can now see why the guy who turned up last week had had second thoughts on a return visit this week. The only trouble now was that there was a steep hill between me and home. I managed to get to the top of the hill through Verulamium Park with a limb excuse for a jog then proceeded to walked the rest off as my cool-down.

A recent plus in my training was discovering that chocolate milkshakes were very actively encouraged after any workout as a recovery aid. One thing that chocolate milkshakes weren’t going to help with though, were my legs. No matter how much I stretched out this afternoon my legs felt like bullets and movement out of chairs was becoming increasingly difficult as the day progressed. We were the last to leave the cinema that evening.