So Much Training

The 29 Minute Challenge


The month of August was a quiet one for me. A week of leave and two weeks of bronchitis shoved my training to the furthest corner of my mind. After my personal triumph (completing the 8km Discovery Walk the Talk), I was keen to try any race, but there was one hidden element that I did not factor in, the one setback that accustomed runners know about, namely, life. It seems that no matter how good your intentions are, life gets in the way.

Let’s backtrack a little to the point just after my 8km achievement walk. Giving myself a few days to rest was my only objective after the walk and so, I did not frequent the gym, did not hit the road, did not tighten my takkie laces. By the second week of August, I was keen to pursue my training routine once again. I went to the gym every day, pushed myself to 30 minute run-walks and even went to a step class, where to my absolute joy, I found I could keep up. My fi tness was definitely improving.

The one bane to my running career was my constant eating. Running, I thought, is supposed to help you lose weight, but with my constant eating, there was a defi nite new and unsightly bulge creeping over the top of my jeans. It’s okay, I told myself, my body will adjust. I thought about what I was eating and how it was either helping or hindering me. Dairy, I found, was poisonous to my system. I have suffered from severe attacks of sinus since I was a child, and with my new hobby, it seemed my sinuses were always dry and painful. Dairy had to go.

My second setback was an ulcer. A simple, tiny hole in my stomach which led to heartburn and chest pain, and I decided coffee and alcohol were the next items on my ‘do not eat’ list. Then, my final sacrifice. Though I was loathe to give it up, I knew that sugar was a slow killer, hardening my arteries and collecting pools of fat around my organs and so, I decided to give it up.

Despite my best efforts on the health front, a difficult year, too many late nights and some very bad habits caught up with me. I got bronchitis. For two weeks, running and any other physical activities were off the cards. Every night, I went to sleep hoping to magically be cured by morning, and woke up the next day with what felt like a humpback whale sitting on my chest. I downed cough syrup, antibiotics, cortisone and anti-histamines in a desperate attempt to recover.

In my 30 years of life, one thing I’ve learned is that people can talk themselves into almost anything. I would like to tell you that my new eating habits stuck, but I feel ashamed to lie to you, my committed audience. I have had some sugar, three cups of coffee and cheese in the last few weeks. Every night, I would feel hunger pangs grab my stomach. Every morning, I felt a deep sense of loss for my fi rst cup of coffee. Chocolate called to me in a seductive voice and I succumbed. I managed to convince myself that being sick means empty calories, that an illness is a good reason to do no exercise at all. I told myself these myths in my most persuasive tone, and managed to convince myself.

August is now at an end and my lack of training and compulsive eating have led me to a variety of conclusions. The first is that eating a lot is not a bad thing as long as I make the effort to use that energy. My second is that if I’m serious about this running thing, if I really want to change my life, then I need, literally, to change my life.

Next week, I begin my new training schedule. Even as I write this, I feel an almost imperceptible internal groan. Not another mid-year resolution! And yet, somehow I feel that this may be achievable. My simple plan? 20 minutes a day. 20 minutes a day on the treadmill is achievable. Why, you ask, is this achievable
when my other goals have fallen so far by the wayside? Frankly, my belief in myself stems from all of you reading this article. It is the stories of other runners, and my realization that I cannot let down the readers who have been following my stories that make me believe I can do this.

I believe in myself and I thank you, all of you committed readers, who believe in me and are spurring me on to meet my goals. You are my inspiration.