My knees and hips are also furious about my new exercise regime
OF COURSE I’m on a health kick at the moment.
It’s January, season of new starts. And anyway, what else is there to do these days if you’re not a sainted Key Worker?
From what I can work out, everybody else’s motivation and productivity seem to have fallen off a cliff while we mooch around at home, waiting for our distant vaccinations and the post-Covid New Dawn.
Despite this (and as if there wasn’t enough for us to be down about already) many of us still feel we should be achieving something with all this lockdown downtime.
So I’ve decided to try and turn back the clock, yet again, to when I was thin and thirty-ish.
Personally, I had a right shock when I saw the excess pounds I’d piled on over Christmas.
For someone who’d always imagined himself as above-averagely fit and active, seeing the meh-at-best shape I’m really in made me reassess my exercise regime.
I decided to attempt a first 10k in months – my body mutinied”
According to the Fitbit I got for Christmas, most of the cycling I do doesn’t burn many more calories than a brisk walk. I needed to up the intensity, which basically meant going back to long runs.
Even on the brief jogs I’d managed during the winter, I’d noticed how much harder it was to exercise for 30 minutes at a heart rate of 140 bpm than it was to cycle for hours at 100.
But the Fitbit reassured me that I was capable of more – sending me a very 2021, machine-to-human compliment about my heart fitness being “Excellent for men your age.”
Pitifully, this was enough to give me delusions of running free for hours like I used to, pounds dropping off me like lead weights, on the way to the figure I coveted.
And yesterday, I decided to push myself and attempt a first 10k in months – which was when my body mutinied.
After 2k, I felt an unusual tightness in my hamstring, and had to stop and touch my toes to stretch it. That didn’t work, so I halted around the corner to put my leg up on a bin, which bought me another 400 metres before I had to stop again.
My woebegone knees give off more clicks than a Geiger Counter as I navigate the stairs”
Of course, any right-thinking person of my alleged maturity would have called it a day right then, quitting before they did themselves a mischief.
And maybe I would have, too – had it not been for the two guys of about my age, who jogged slowly past while I was kneading a knotty bit at the back of my thigh…
I immediately started chasing them, of course, like an arthritic Labrador after a couple of game, balding squirrels. But the jolt of competitive adrenaline it gave me was somehow enough to carry me – panting and sweating torrents into my eyes – all the way to 10k.
Then, as soon as I stopped, I knew I was in trouble.
My hamstring was screaming by now at its maltreatment and – even after an extra-conscientious, remorseful set of post-run stretches – the whole of my right leg felt weirdly fused into a solid, unbending mass. Rather like an artificial leg, but with real-life shooting pains.
Now I’m into my mid-50s, I’m accustomed to my hips seizing up like The Tin Man, as well as my torn, woebegone knees taking on a grinding kind of quality – and giving off more clicks than a Geiger Counter as I navigate the stairs, or exfiltrate myself from armchairs.
But this time, I felt truly, comprehensively fucked. This time, it was a full-blown insurrection against the frankly impossible demands I was placing on my body. When would I ever learn – asked my thighs, back, hips, ankles and knees – to act my age?
I limped home and forlornly tied a bag of frozen sweetcorn to the overwhelmed, faithful old hammy, hoping against hope that I’d strained rather than torn it.
Because, if I’ve only strained it, I might be able to run again in a week.
But, if I’ve torn it, I might have to face up to the fact that I can’t do this anymore, and finally grow up. Accept my age, and my limitations.
God, I hope I’ve only strained it…