Surging with Syd

In my mid twenties, a brilliant young actuary I worked with invited me to jog with him. Just after dawn, I ran round to his flat and we did a circuit together. I don’t recall much of that outing but it was immediately clear to both of us that he was fast and I was slow. We ran together two or three times, before I saved him embarrassment by saying I preferred solo jogs. He went on to run many marathons at quite a high level; I kept on plodding.

I did take something away from those jogs. “Going up a rise,” he counselled, “it’s best to surge, to push yourself. That way you build up strength for the flat stretches. Even if you’re tired at a crest, you’ll maintain pace downhill.” Well, Syd, your advice has stuck with me, and over my 2016 Jogging Big Year, I often tried to pump those weary legs up the hills, and I noticed that my best times came when I surged consistently. There were even some magical moments when, gasping at the top of a rise, my breathing came easier and I imagined myself an athlete.

Joggers from around the world

Over 2016, a dozen or so Strava runners followed/monitored my jogs. I now follow them. Scottish S, a fast-pacer at 4:00 mins/km, ran 1,400 kms. British A isn’t so serious (1,100 kms) but is much faster than me at 5:00. Spanish C must be an athlete, he’s so swift. A Strava friend in Belarus has hundreds of followers and over 2,200 kms, much of it amongst snow. B from Auckland did 2,000 kms, quite a bit faster than me, while a Johannesburg pal is more my slow pace but hit over 2,300 kms. Russian Y, who snaps photos of snow drifts, proudly achieved 2,016 kms in 2016 and plans 2,017 miles (a 60% increase!) in 2017. A from Horsham, and P from Romania, both clocked up 2,400 kms or more, and fast. N from The Entrance (NSW) runs at 5:00 and totalled over 2,800 kms, while an Israeli friend with many followers, is more my pace but runs so often that he amassed over 3,000 kms. My nearest Strava peer, in Croydon, is speedy and oh so prolific – he finished 2016 with over 3,400 kms.

When I call them “friends,” “pals,” or “peers,” I’m being overly familiar. I’ve never met any of them, indeed have barely exchanged a word through Strava comments. Yet they feel like a brotherhood. Why we all run, I don’t know, but run we do, and supporting each other on the Strava platform comforts and motivates.

My Big Decade: Follow my progress?

In 2016 I obsessed, day on day, with writing and jogging. In 2017, writing becomes even more intense, but on top of a Writing Big Year, I’ll do a Fitness Big Year (cycle, jog and gym) and a Rock Music Big Year (listening!). You might find this quirky struggle of interest! If so, go ahead and click the Facebook button.

2017 Day 1

One of the paramount rules of a Big Year: start on January 1. Today’s mandatory three tasks:

  • Get up in the dark to write well
  • Cycle, jog, or lift a dumbbell
  • Listen through Teenage Fanclub’s album Here

Not so straightforward, for it’s New Year’s Day and a special person’s birthday. All going well, it will be a day of two halves.


2017: Let’s attempt a Fitness Big Year

After nixing a full-blown cycling Big Year, I knew I needed something next year that carries on the good work of this year’s almost-completed Jogging Big Year. But what?

Let me try to exercise each and every day. Can I learn about cycling, keep up some running, and progress my gym work? I’m no longer obsessing on one set of muscles, I’m being an all-rounder. I’m retaining good habits but working on more holistic “fitness.” Do I know what “fitness” means? Not really but hey, why not have fun puzzling this out?

Specifically, here’s what I’ll target. Each and every week, from January 1 to December 31, I shall cycle 3 times (2 longer ones of a couple of hours, 1 shorter one of one hour), jog 2 times (my current 10 kms), and go to my gym 2 times (no specific rules set). Over 2017, the goals are: 5,ooo kms of cycling, 1,000 kms of jogging, and 100 gym sessions.