My gym progress continued

Still no photos, sorry… (Not that anybody would really be especially keen to see photos of me… haha… But part of the objective is to change that.)

I was going to write about something else… my frustration with a friend of a friend yesterday who said she would pray for me, and didn’t quite grasp the significance of my response (“I’ll blow my nose for you”). But fuck that – I have spent more than enough time on idiots this week.

Gym… I’m making progress, but not as much as I hoped. It’s a slow and steady slog. And I don’t mean slog as in a cricketer smashing every ball over the boundary, or slog as in a boxer pummelling punches on his opponent, I mean slog as in working tirelessly away, whittling away at something slowly and making a tiny bit of progress over a long time. It can be frustrating.

I’ve had to forget all about my target of running 5km each day. But what I have done is stop weight training completely except for that one day a week with a trainer (which I skipped the last two weeks) in favour of aerobic exercise.

This is my routine more or less:

  • Run for 25 minutes. This morning was the first time I ran for 25 continuous minutes, without a rest after 20. Speed set to 9.5km/h, except for the last minute when I increased it to 10. I could have continued but I like the way cycling fast burns my legs more than running can.
  • Cycle for 10 to 15 minutes. Today I only made 10, but flat out all the way. I can’t adjust the speed as for the treadmill, so I went with the arbitrary difficulty of 4 (whatever that means) and try to average more than 100 Watts, typically between 105 and 110.
  • Walk briskly around the track until my hour is complete. I have this weird walk that I came up with in my old meth-addicted days, where I take unusually long strides with my short legs and transfer the load onto my quadraceps. I call it my silly walk, but I don’t do the full silly walk in the gym because people will probably laugh at me. Anyway, I end up walking considerably faster than anyone else in the gym. It’s a great way of ending off my workout.

And that’s it. I’m chuffed that I was able to run for 25 continuous minutes today, as that was a first. The cycling seems to be helping. And after losing zero weight in the first 5 months, I have finally lost 2kg, although I am significantly thinner and fitter than I was.

Edit: Actually I have a couple of funny anecdotes about my silly walk. It was born, I think, because at some point years ago, the amount of meth I used messed up my muscle control. One day I found that I was incapable of walking normally because my muscles could not contract (a physical side-effect of copious meth use), but instead I lifted my knees and stretched out to these absurdly long strides that looked quite goofy. Then I adopted that walk whenever I was in a hurry, because it was effective. Somehow it allowed me to use my legs’ strength to gain speed, which was strenuous but also fast, faster than a slow jog. Then I got used to it and walked long distances like that. I have not seen anybody else walking like that and don’t think it occurs to anybody to attempt it. I can’t walk so fast anymore because I’m about 30kg heavier, less supple, and can’t stretch that far, but my less goofy version of the silly walk is still fast.

In the old days, I think it was around late 2007 or 2008, I worked at a company in Salt River, Cape Town. Every day I walked like that from the train station to the office, making a 20 minute walk in less than 9 minutes. I recall one day when I wasn’t in a hurry and walked normally… a couple who lived along the route asked me, “Are you not training today?” Baffled, I answered, “Yes, I’m resting”. It wouldn’t have been a good idea to tell them that I was walking normally because I was not in a hurry and also wasn’t high.

On another occasion, I walked all the way from Cape Town station to a company at the Waterfront, for a job interview, passing a jogger and a walker who were training along the way. Then I didn’t get the job, probably because I was drenched in sweat, didn’t smell so good, and was overly anxious and self-conscious about the fact that I was drenched in sweat and didn’t smell so good. And to think that this was in the middle of the good old days… Meth is bad… don’t do it.

My gym progress

A few weeks ago, I saw a Facebook share that was smugly judgemental of people who post their workout progress on Facebook. Well, you know what? Fuck that, and fuck those people… I went for several years with no exercise and when I started at gym last July, I could barely run for 2 minutes on a treadmill. This isn’t about narcissism, and even if it was, no arsehole is going to tell me what I should or shouldn’t share, so I will proudly share my progress both there and here. I won’t be posting any photos yet, not until I have something I feel is worth sharing.

Anyway, I’ve changed my workout a little… Now I only have a session with a personal trainer once a week, on Saturdays (because it’s too expensive), and although I have been doing two workouts in the week, I’m going to increase that. My workout is now mostly about running, with some work on my abs as well. The Saturday sessions involve weight training.

When I started, I strained to finish ten minute sessions on the treadmill, alternating between running and walking for two minutes at a time. Now, I’m up to 25 minutes of running, not fast but a steady jog at a minimum speed of 9km/h, which I increase if I’m feeling good on the day. Today I ran for 25 minutes to a distance of 3.79km. Then I worked my abs and ended off with walking and running around the track a few times. My target is to run 5km a day, and I think it won’t be long until I can manage that. Also, if I increase the time, I don’t allow myself to run for a shorter time than that again. So I don’t push too hard – which is what I used to do when I was younger, as it results in impossible expectations and a target that becomes too difficult to maintain every time.

I’m much fitter than I was a few months ago, but because I’ve still been eating like a pig (I like to eat), I have lost zero weight, although I am noticeably thinner, having converted plenty of fat into muscle. And that’s it… This is the first time I have managed to stick to an exercise program ever, because of not overdoing it, and I am proud to share this. Hopefully I’ll be happy enough to share some photos of my improved physique soon.