dalliard.net

Monotony

Me and exercise have always had a love/hate relationship. I have a problem with getting bored easily, meaning that I never seem to build up a good routine. The only sport that’s kept my boredom at bay is ju-jitsu. In fact, it’s probably the only physical activity that I consistently enjoy. Why?

  • It'll probably stop me dying early. (Always useful)
  • It builds self-confidence and is a useful skill.
  • It's good for my mental health. (And that's another post entirely)
  • It's a cerebral sport. Contrary to belief, martial-arts are not just ninja-kicks, karate chops and noises from Enter The Dragon (fun as this is). No, there's a chess-like deliberation about what your opponent is going to do - and what you’re going to do to stop them.
In November 2009, I managed to pass my black-belt grading, something I've always been proud of. It took nearly seven years to attain it - but that was three years ago. I need to get my head screwed on, my brain in gear and start looking at my second-dan.

To attain that goal, I've got to improve my fitness. I've seen a couple of second-dan gradings. You don't need much imagination to guess that they turn into significant endurance challenges. It's made me reconsider my approach.

In previous gradings, I've mainly got through by sheer repetition at training sessions, drilling each technique into my little brain in the hope that it'll stick on the day. However, I'm not sure that's enough now. Whilst I'm obviously not unfit to have got to this stage, I'm not really fit either. There's only one way to change that, and that's through sustained periods of cardiovascular stuff - I’ve really got to get back into running.

However, I fucking hate running. It's dull, repetitive and mindless, plus, if you've got the stature I have (my Dad says I'm descended from a long line of pygmies) then it's not the easiest thing to do. I don’t have legs, I have stumps - but do it I must. With the advent of lots of glorious smartphone apps, there's enough out there to keep my brain occupied to ensure that the rot doesn't set in and with GPS, I can track my progress. I can’t be doing with that treadmill crap, either - it’s got to be real running, with real roads, parks and hills. Yesterday, I ran in the snow and really enjoyed it. Diversity is what’s going to help minimise the boredom.

I'm currently running approximately 5k three or four times per week and aim to continue doing so for about another six weeks. Two of my weekly runs will take place before my ju-jitsu training sessions, a deliberate move to improve my stamina and ensure I can stay focused, even when I'm more tired than everyone else. Around March, I'll review things. I don't want to become a distance runner (nice as that would be), but want to use this as a way to shorten my recovery period and generally improve my overall fitness. With a variety of apps, locations and music, I'm doing all I can to keep the boredom at bay. I enjoying running in the cold of night. As well as protecting the public from the view of my wobbling hide I find I can focus better, as well as reducing my exposure to road-traffic.

The initial results from the first three weeks have been encouraging. My pace per kilometre has already gone down by ninety seconds and I'm finding each run easier and easier - but at the moment, I’m bound to. The real challenge will be to keep going when the gains decrease.

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have already seen me share some music playlists. It it helps you, feel free to use them - and if they work for you, great. I've largely picked some uplifting tracks that have just the right tempo for my feet. Your feet may be quicker.

As time progresses and my pace improves to a non-embarrassing level, I’ll share a bit more, but I've started off the year with a greater degree of focus and hope that this provides sufficient momentum to ensure I achieve my goal. One way or another, it's not going to do me any harm trying.
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