In my opinion, you really discover your fitness level when you try and go for a jog.
I’d been working out on a cross trainer for a couple of months, five times a week. I’d even built things up a bit, exercising for longer, and on a harder setting.
But I wasn’t at all confident ahead of my first jog in years, training for the Maccabi GB Community Fun Run. Running is a completely different form of exercise. You use your whole body - and if you’re not fit, there’s no hiding it, because before you know it, you’ll be out of breath.
And so it proved. I’d got my running shoes on, made a special running playlist on Spotify, had a good long drink of water – basically, I had done everything apart from going on the run itself. But I could finally procrastinate no longer, and after doing pre-exercise muscle stretches, I jogged down the road. And then I jogged down another road, and the road after that – which is when I stopped for the first time. My heart was beating like an EDM anthem, and I was breathing hard and fast. But at least I’d known that was going to happen – I wasn’t under any sort of illusions about my level of fitness.
I began running again, reminding myself to breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth. I managed to do another five hundred metres or so before stopping again.
And so that’s how I ran, starting and stopping. Running as far as I was able, then stopping until I caught my breath, then running again. I made deals with myself – you see that tree, far in the distance? You’re going to run until you reach it, and then you can have a rest.
I staggered back into my house a century later (ok, more like 25 minutes), drenched with sweat, but feeling that sense of exhausted accomplishment that often comes with a bout of proper exercise.
What is more, while on my jog, someone from the community saw me and cheered me on – and I knew that he must have read my previous column about training for the Maccabi GB Community Fun Run. If I’m going to be putting myself through the wringer, I’m glad people are reading about it.