Until very recently, you would have been more likely to come across a baby unicorn reciting Shakespeare than to see me running through the streets of Warsaw. Before my aforementioned weight-loss and newly experienced fitness, the most you might have expected was a frantic, awkward jog towards the doors of an awaiting tram as they slid, defiantly, shut in front of me. On those occasions where I did make the tram, I would often watch runners jog down the street with all the grace and apparent ease of an Olympic athlete, or at the very least the Commodore Amiga 500 approximation of one, and wonder what could possibly convince them that this was a more fulfilling pastime than, say, the Internet.
A recent twice-weekly return to the football field demonstrated an embarrassingly obvious lack of stamina though no evident loss of child-like enthusiasm. Like an astonished puppy comprehending the pleasure of chasing cars, I charged around the pitch like I had never been away and twenty minutes in I wore the expression of someone just woken from a particularly unpleasant dream, probably involving sharks. Or clowns. Or clown sharks.
I needed to get fit and of course, running seemed like the simplest solution. Not one to do things by halves, I went out and bought myself all the paraphernalia required to pretend I knew what I was doing. I bought myself expensive running shoes, track-tops and an arm-strap for my iPhone. I downloaded the Adidas MiCoach app for my phone knowing only too well that if there wasn’t some gadgetry involved I would be bored very quickly.
Like a schoolboy taking to the floor for that first, excruciating Christmas party dance, I set out on my first assessment run. “Start at 5/10 effort”. How in the name of all that is holy should I know what 5 out of 10 effort is? “Increase to 6/10 effort”. I’ve not worked out what 5/10 is yet! “Increase to 7/10 effort”. Ah. Now I’m getting it. “Increase to 8/10 effort”. What?! I was just getting comfortable. “Increase to 9/10 effort! Give it all you’ve got”. Oh God!
Despite experiencing something akin to how I imagine being repeatedly run over by a tractor may feel, I had completed my first run and in doing so had established my MiCoach ‘zones’. What next? Investigating the MiCoach website, I found a ‘Soccer’ training routine and scheduled 3 runs per week separated by the two football matches. Since then, I have diligently stuck to my routine and have found, much like I expect heroin is, it is dangerously addictive. The endorphins released are quite something and I enjoy the time I have to think or to enjoy some music or podcasts. there are also few things quite like that post-run shower.
Having the facility to track my progress as I go, using the MiCoach app on the iPhone is possibly what will keep it interesting for me in the long run (pun quite definitely intended). I can see how far I have run; what my pace is; how many calories I have lost and using GPS it stores my route also. Of course, all this running is a means to an end so not content with this already perilously high level of geekery, I bought myself the Adidas Speed_Cell. Now I get to track my progress on the football field too, including the number of sprints, high intensity periods and distance traveled, which can only spell so much over-analysis like a disastrously dull and extremely niche Opta.