67/365 – Shared exercise regime

It seems like a good time for an update on my training and upcoming events. I mentioned it briefly here, but next month one of my best pals and I are taking part in a mini duathlon. The distances are a 4km run, a 20km cycle and a 4km run to finish it/us off. It’ll be a challenge for us as neither of us are keen cyclists, but being challenged is the point. Well that and doing something ‘fun’ together.

After booking it a couple of weekends ago, we have been keeping each other up to date with our latest training schedules and this week we have set ourselves the challenge of following the breakdown in the image below (excuse the pervy images).



 Strength training is important in the build up to any kind of distance sporting event – particularly strengthening the glutes to prevent IT band-related injuries and core strength to give your tired legs a boost when the going gets tough. 

The first outdoor run I did last week surprised me. I thought as I had been training hard in the gym – including lots of treadmill work – I would find it easy. I set off fast, loving the stimulation of running along London’s beautiful streets again, but by around 4.5km I was starting to tire. My legs felt as shaky as they did when I started running again last year – without the intense winter training I’ve done this year. It was clear that I need to get out and clock up the miles before tapering down at the end of April. 

Sharing the pain

Before a couple of years ago I was never really one for sharing events or training plans. I think years of playing in football teams and with a boxing club, where there are always some people you take to more than others,  made training solo new and exciting. I was my own boss and could push myself as hard as I wanted. However, having friends/Elaine taking part with me on each of my ‘staggered triathlon’ events last year, and the year before Michelle and I completed the 26 mile Kilt Walk and E and I did the Royal Parks half marathon, made me realise the benefit of having someone to push you on. 

During any kind of endurance test, having company means finding ways to distract each other and either keeping focused or keeping your minds from the scale of the task ahead. During Elaine’s first half marathon, we kept each other from thinking about the distance by planning, in explicit detail, what we would have for our Sunday lunch. It was kind of like the trick you see prisoners use in TV shows to distract themselves.

Why do distance events if they can feel like torture, you may well be asking? Particularly since the MG diagnosis, testing my body to prove it’s strong enough to cope is important to me. As is having something to train for when my motivation, or mood, dips. But also it’s about the shared memories – I know in years time I’ll still be speaking to my friends about the incidents around the events in the same way I still share stories with my university football team mates about our ‘glory days’.

Although Sarah and I are pushing each other on remotely via Facebook photos and messages, it makes a difference knowing someone is expecting you to be fit enough to do an event with them. It always feels worse letting someone else down and by not being able to complete the duathlon I know it would affect Sarah’s experience (like it did with my friend when I couldn’t complete the overnight London to Brighton cycle last year). Unless things with the MG take a turn for the worse, I will do all I can to cross that finish line.

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