29th March 2015:
It’s the day I have been training towards ever since I signed up in early January. Hard and demanding nights covering miles of tarmac, mud and grass have been building towards this moment.
It’s the day of the ‘Northumberland Half Marathon‘, and I am ready to take part in what is my first ever offical run. A gruelling 13.1 mile course filled with barren scenery, icy winds and spitting rain awaits me.
My passion for running had peaked in late 2014/early 2015, leading me to head out in my luminous gear and face the harsh winter elements that the North-East is renowned for, night after night.
I can’t pinpoint the exact time that I became a cardio fanatic, but looking back now confirms to me that I was slightly obsessed. One day stands out in particular: the night I opted to run 13km after a 10 minute bike warm up and 5000m on the rowing machine.
I spent the rest of the night feeling disorientated, even resorting to plunging into an ice bath. Even at this stage I failed to realise how much weight I was losing, as all I was focused on was my increasing cardiovascular endurance.
Fastforward to Kirkley Hall, the picturesque starting point of my first offically timed and recorded run. After a brisk start moving up the pack I began to realise that I might actually be quite good at this whole long distance running malarky.
But, as I’m sure anyone who has ran before will know, the dreaded ‘wall’ was only a few miles up the road. I stumbled and staggered towards the finish, resembling Bambi as I barely crept towards the last stretch of Northumbrian terrain.
To this day I have no recollection of the final two miles. My race inexperiecne had come back to haunt me as I had no energy sources on me: only the water the stewards provided every three miles. It’s safe to say I was a mess for the hour after I had crossed the finish line.
The silver lining however, was my time and final standing. I had come in a very respectable 79th place, in a race which contained 394 participants. My time of 1.37.48 eclipsed my expectations and anything I had done previously.
20th July 2015
Time for change. After nearly a year of nothing but treadmill bashing and a steady weight loss of nearly a stone, greener pastures were calling. By greener pastures I mean dumbells, barbells and weights.
The penny dropped after I looked at a photo of myself shirtless, ribs and all. It was something I had failed to see previously which is staggering when I look back at numerous snaps of myself.
I was proud of my running achievements, which included a faster time at the Sunderland Half Marathon, but I was focused and ready for a new challenge. Who knew that switching from cardio to stength workouts would ache so much!
After my first session at Lifestyle Fitness in Darlington, I swear I couldn’t move part of my arm for a week. My body was in complete shock, confused as to why my upper body was under scrutiny. My legs were suddenly feeling neglected.
Part of me expected a sudden decline in interest after a week, mainly due to me losing interest in strength workouts after sampling them in early 2014. But I surprised myself as the months rolled by.
Throughout late Summer I trekked to the deserted Teesside University gym where I trained alone attempting to resuscitate my idle muscles.
Little did I know, I would actually enjoy it…
So that brings the story too today. It’s almost been six months since I started weight training, and during that time I feel like I have made improvments and changed the way I eat completely.
I have managed to put on a full stone which is a good starting block for my long term goal, which is to be 14 stone by the summer: I currently weigh 13 stone. Calories were once a forbidden word for me, but now I need to get in over 3,000 a day in order to get where I want.
Going to the gym is something which I regard as a hobby now, when a year ago it would have been regarded as the ultimate sin. I have gone from running four to five times a week, to using 5-a-side football for an hour as my cardio intake.
But I know this is only the start of what will be a long and tough journey. Progress is slow but I am determined to keep up what I have done so far, and hopefully inspire fellow scrawny lads out there to stick at it.