Tag Archive for 'running'

MiCoach, MiRules.

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.

In which I bang on about weight I’ve lost

It often starts with an emotional catastrophe.  Whoever you are, wherever you are.  In my case it was a particularly painful break-up in March last year and a pretty bad one at that.  That I was distraught was clear.  That it would be the defining catalyst for one of the biggest changes in my life was less so.

I have a pretty miserable diet, you see. I’m a fussy eater verging on the embarrassingly phobic and since my late teens it has caused me to steadily gain weight.  Prior to the aforementioned break-up, my girlfriend of the time had a firm but supportive and encouraging effect on this and coupled with a GP referral to a psychologist (I’m not joking) it led to an improvement in my diet, if only a little.

It was only when sitting alone, dispirited and far from home in my flat in Warsaw that I understood something must be done, if not with the eating, at least with my size.  For a 5 foot 6 inch adult male, I accepted 89 kg was certainly heavy but was astonished that a quick check of the BMI scale would label me ‘obese’.  Obese?! Me?! What?!  I was overweight, that was clear, but obese?!  Seriously?!  Compared to a selection of the massive, bovine, individuals walking down Buchanan Street in Glasgow of a Saturday, I was positively fit but in reality, I was obese.  Indubitably, something had to be done.

Like many a child of the 80′s, I’m all about the gadgets so almost without consideration I hit the iTunes app store and found myself the preposterously titled ‘My Fitness Pal’.  Despite a title that had me grabbing desperately for the sick-bag, I downloaded to my iPhone and set about setting it up.  At this stage I had no expectation that it would do me any good but hell, I’m nothing if not an optimist so I set the curve steeply with instruction to lose 1 & 1/2 lb per week.  It told me I was allowed 1490 calories per day and to this day, excepting for the occasional lapse (especially in Scotland), that’s exactly what I’ve stuck to.

By September I had lost an absurd 15kg, simply by eating what I always have but eating much less and, of course, tracking the calories in my new ‘pal’.  By Autumn, my body had decided it had had quite enough of all this change thank you very much and obstinately refused to change any further – and no discussion was going to make it reconsider.  Throughout Winter, I managed to steal a couple of kg without my body noticing, lest it get rather upset, however, my goal of a 68 kg target that would leave me in the ‘Healthy Weight’ area of the BMI scale for the first time in my adult life seemed frustratingly elusive.

…And then I started to play football again.  A bad achilles injury exacerbated by my weight had led me to ‘hang up my boots’ a few years before and I was sure, despite my obvious love for the game, that I would not play again.  Realising the tendon may be able to cope with the reduced strain, I gave it a go and indeed, It was fine.  I began to play twice a week (and expect to increase this with a 3rd game soon) but stamina was a problem during a 90 minute match and to combat this, I took up running on the days when not on the football field.

Without even realising, the last few kg disappeared, solemnly, into the night leaving me to bang on to anyone who might listen that I had reached 68.1kg, safely inside the healthy weight zone on the NHS’ own BMI index scale.

Triumph.

I celebrated, as all Scots surely must, with a deliciously chilled can of Irn Bru and with a promise I would never let that happen again.  It took me 14 years to build up that weight but it only took me a year to lose it.  If that can’t be considered a positive outcome of a catastrophic situation, I don’t know what can.

Here’s to a lot more football.