Anyone reading the first blog may be wondering how I ended up at the summit of the hill marked 30, wheezing slightly and with one eye on the ice cream van parked at the top. Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that this isn’t a cautionary tale from a confirmed couch potato. In fact, I’ve always thought of myself as the fit, active sort. The problem seems to be that, over time, thinking that I’m fit and active seems to have taken over from actually being fit and active.
Growing up I played football, swam regularly, kayaked and generally kept healthy and active. Even during the late-night and booze-soaked years at university I had a regular game of football and resolutely walked everywhere (the campus at the University of Exeter being an up-and-down sort of a place). As I joined the working world, I was lucky enough to end up somewhere with a swimming pool and sports hall on-site and I would make sure I had a couple of pre-work swims a week, as well as joining in with the occasional lunchtime game of basketball (hopeless) or volleyball (equally hopeless, but then so was everyone else, so it didn’t show quite as much).
As Mrs Running Buffet and I settled down into our domestic life, we also discovered that there was a lot of enjoyment to be had from cooking good food (mainly this enjoyment was to be found in the subsequent eating of the good food). So, circa my mid-20s, I had a pretty good balance going on.
As is the case with butterflies and hurricanes, a series of small changes can add up to have a big impact. The swimming dropped down to once a week and then stopped altogether. I took up running but, within a few months (and probably not caused by the running, it must be said) I was on the waiting list for a double hernia repair. One of my 5-a-side football teams packed up as people started families and found other, more pressing commitments. Over time, and without me really realising it, my weekly exercise reduced to one game of 5-a-side football a week.
When you look at it objectively, one hour a week of exercise really isn’t enough. Particularly when, as mentioned before, there are so many good things to eat. I don’t want to diet. I don’t want to have to cut the good things out of my life. But I do want to be healthy. Nothing for it: it’s back to the running again.
I live in Okehampton in Devon, which is the hilliest place in the world*. Seriously, everywhere is up, in flagrant breach of the laws of physics. Luckily, near where we live, lies the Granite Way, a cycle track that runs alongside (and then along) the route of an old railway line. This means that it is (almost) flat and it has provided an excellent place to get back into the running habit.
*This may not be true.
I have dusted off my old trainers, braved the summer showers and can now be found shuttling back and forth along the first mile and a bit of the Granite Way on a fairly regular basis. Starting to run again; did it hurt? Absolutely. But the burning in my lungs died down after the first few times and the pain in my calf muscles is starting to ease.
And the best bit of all? It feels great. In a sweaty, slightly painful way. But still great. Taking back control of my fitness is only the first step towards actually being fit again but I can heartily recommend it for the endorphin-releasing buz it generates.
So if you’re out and about on the Granite Way and you see a slightly breathless man puffing along the track, please say hello. It might be me. And even if you aren’t a Devon local, check back soon and I will keep you posted about my progress…