Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fit or fat?

It's 6:30 pm....the 6:15 from Waterloo is rattling through darkened suburbia en route to Godalming on a freezing Tuesday night. Incredibly, it's on time

Damn. That's one escape route gone

Too cold? It's already sub zero outside and very tempting to go straight home into the fug of the central heating, like wrapping yourself in steaming cotton wool

Mrs M will be waiting at the station, so I can't play the car's tucked away in the garage card either

Nothing else for it...I suppose I'll just have to go to the gym with her

Gill's New Year resolution is holding up well, considering it's nearly February. We joined the gym at Charterhouse immediately after our tough Christmas warm weather and rum punch training in the Caribbean, and she has got into the routine of the Tuesday night aerobics-step-boxercise class and Thursday night circuits, despite a heavy workload

She's good like that. Focused. Unwavering. She really wants to get fit enough for skiing in March first, and especially to strengthen the leg that was trampled on by a large horse in 2004. Kili fitness is a distant objective and I doubt that even she can keep up the current routine for over a year....

Me? Going to gyms is a bit like Parkinson's Law in my mind. You can have a list of 15 things to do and it will always be nudged down to number 15, possibly 16, even if you'd really like it to be right up there in the top 3

I started off with good intentions. You know...had a programme mapped out by the instructor (thanks Julie), meticulously followed it a couple of times and even went swimming for a bit of non-impact toning (yeah, right)

10 days and foot-throbbing gout, wrenched shoulder and neck muscles, and a stinker of a cold later, it's all gone a bit Pete Tong already. What a great start. Just as well there's over a year to really fine tune the programme

It's not like I'm that unfit anyway. I've been pretty disciplined, by my admittedly flexible standards, in already cutting out the endless cups of coffee at work, the odd sticky bun or bacon butty on the way in to start the day right, half a tube of Pringles after staggering off the train in the evening, and that irresistible couple of mini Twirls from the goody jar to round off supper

But - be warned if you're not there yet - gravity really kicks in past 40. And that is a long way in my rear view mirror already. No matter how much sport you play, no matter how healthily you eat week in week out, no matter how much you've cut back on the lager...one little slip and - BANG! - that tyre thing has reappeared around your middle

For years I had a 32" waist. It's slipped to 34" now and, worse, I'm on the last hole of the belt after a spontaneous few pints and a curry. I can hear 36" screaming in my ear..or at least I would if my hearing wasn't fading too

Anyway, we never used to have gyms, did we? Or nutritionists, or spas, or treatments, or Pilates. Do you think Nobby Stiles and the gang did all those stretchy things, warmed up and down and laid off the chip butties in 1966. I don't think so. "Here, Jack, how many lateral pull downs did you do before the Argentina game?"

I'm having an assessment this Saturday. To measure my VO2 apparently (shampoo rating?), the BMI % (airline appraisal?) and body fat, amongst other things. I'll use it as a benchmark to see if my programme over the coming months actually does work...assuming there's a Twirl quotient built in, of course
Besides, it's comforting to hear that people who are too fit - and who suffer from the exuberance of youth - stand less chance of conquering Kili because they exert too much energy sprinting up the mountain and get poleaxed by the lack of oxygen at altitude. More about the technicalities of Acute Mountain Sickness later, but maybe, just maybe, there will be an advantage in being on the brink of 50. Pole pole - slowly slowly - is apparently the constant Swahili mantra from the guides and porters, exhorting you to conserve your dwindling resources as the air thins

We'll need a decent (extraordinary?) climbing fitness, of course, and a tip-top aerobic capacity, but otherwise it sounds like it isn't necessary to track Lance Armstrong's regime. And presumably a bit of fat reserves to energise you through that last punishing summit day will come in handy, so maybe the next 13 months might not be quite so deprived, after all....


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