Exercise Update: Strong like ox

Not me, obviously. I’m nowhere near as strong as an ox. But I’m sure there are people who are nearly as strong as a pretty weak ox.

I’d have myself down as almost as strong as an overly aggressive stoat. Three months ago I was probably at about the same level as a sickly vole, so this is actually a fair mark of progress.

To give you a run down of what I’ve been up to:

– Two to three gym sessions a week with Deepak, where I lift things, pull things, punch the space around Deepak’s face, lift other things and make manly noises. The manly noises are by far the most improved aspect of my physique; I have moved from pre-pubescent squeak to meek roar.

– Climbing. I try and get in a couple of bouldering sessions a week, although this is almost certainly placebo exercise. Whilst I can now climb some moderately hard things, I  spend a far greater proportion of my climbing time panting, having a lie down, feigning injury, making up climbing terms, abusing others, buying KitKats and asking what the music is.

– Football. After a 5-year mini-break from the beautiful game I’ve finally got back on the pitch (twice), and have lasted 5 and 10 minutes respectively before being completely, utterly broken down to a cellular level. I haven’t been asked to play for a couple of weeks. This might be for the best.

– Bricking it. They keep putting up more zones for the Rat Race and each looks more sadistic than the last. Search rat race dirty weekend on Youtube to get an idea. Pray for me.

Basically, it’s been like a Rocky montage, with the exercise bits replaced by whingeing and without any real improvement over time.

So yesterday I decided to test my progress by taking on the Major Series Midlands 10k, with a few mates from work. In short, this is a 10k over all kinds of funky terrain, mostly based around mud, with various army-looking types shouting at you while you inhale large volumes of effluent.

Pre mud

Pre mud

Needless to say, I was somewhat apprehensive. At least it was gloriously sunny and a great venue – I can think of worse places to die.

My first taste of things to come was in the warmup. My warmup for training usualy involves cracking a few jokes and maybe eating a Twirl; this warmup contained more exercise than I generally do in a week. I was shattered by the end and nearly vomited on the start line, which was not a promising sign.

We got round to the first obstacle, a small jump over a log into water, in good time, and I felt confident until I found myself ankle deep in water which smelt strongly of the country, sludging through mud and large quantities of sheep shit. This was only the beginning.

In the next vat of crap, now waist deep, I had a slight coming together with an underwater root. Retarding my purposeful forward stride, the root coaxed all the momentum from me until the only place left to go was back. Into the waist deep shit-water. Slowly.

I emerged from the pool and rejoined my kilt-wearing accomplice looking and smelling like a turd, which would explain why he was so keen to bolt ahead.

There’s a lot to be said for running with a Scotsman in a kilt. First, it deflected attention away from my turd-like qualities. Second, you here a lot of good ‘true Scotsman’ jokes from the crowd (he wasn’t, thank fuck.), which makes you think less about the pain and humiliation. Third, after soaking with mud and shite a kilt is indistinguishable from a skirt, which caused much confusion and hilarity.

The rest of the course progressed in much the same fashion – drown in shit, have a laugh, weep inside, repeat. There were also some exciting obstacles involving haystacks and really quite dangerous slip’n’slides, and some with barbed wire, which was mean.

At one point I lost a shoe and had to dig in the mud to find it.

Having said all this, once I hit the finish line I felt incredible. And unclean. But mostly incredible. I would urge anyone to give something like this a go.

There is also the added bonus of having to go back to London and get on a tube smelling like you’ve fallen into a slurry tank. I had my own carriage on the District line and got over 8 funny looks- I might try this more often.

Post mud

Post mud

So the key takeout points if you’ve just skipped straight to the end:

1) Exercise

2) I have done running

3) I am alive

4) I will definitely still die in May


I have since learned that I ran that race in 1:19 and averaged a whopping 7.54kph, making me the 150th fastest man and 25th fastest woman of the 750 runners. I AM A MACHINE.

Help me.

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