Fitness Big Year: Broken and here’s the fix

This Big Year seemed simple. Attend to exercising daily. Take up cycling, aiming for quite a few kilometers over the year, but maintain some jogging and do a little gym work. I wondered, early in the year, whether adding cycling to my regimen would aid overall fitness.

Here’s what happened. For equivalent “exercise value,” I knew I’d need to cycle more hours than I typically jogged. After an initial terrible jogging period, all went well for a while but then writing work pressures told on me, and I dialled down my cycles to just one hour. So yes, I did maintain the daily commitment to exercise but now the effort, over an entire week, was less than last year. My weight stacked up. I skipped a few days (work whinging). The left hamstring went on what was just a short jog. I kept up light gym work and minimal cycling but a spiral of doom had begun, I could see.

Yesterday I flaunted my Writing Big Year rules and headed to the river just after dawn. The body felt unfamiliar. I was not me anymore. How had this happened? A mist shrouded the track, joggers and cyclists aplenty.

A few days earlier, I’d only managed 2 kms on the tender hamstring, so now I aimed for 4 kms. I’ve lost winter conditioning and had rugged up with too many clothes, so two kilometers down the path, I was drenched in sweat, but you know what? It felt great and I kept going, turning around after 3 kms and lurching homeward. The final uphill felt sweet. 6 kms at a deadly slow 6:45 mins/km . . . heaven!

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