“Do this, do that”…Do one!

I went for a little run yesterday. It was only a few miles and it wasn’t fast, but it was running. As long as I don’t damage the ankle again I should be back to training now, which is an incredible feeling!

So, now I’m back, how do I decide what training I should be doing? Where do I find someone to tell me what to do?

As it turns out, that’s harder than I thought, and not due to a lack of information, in fact quite the opposite.

I got home to Trail Running and Outdoor Fitness magazines on my doormat yesterday. They have training plans, lots of training plans, in fact this month I have the choice of;

  • Winter speed workouts
  • 30-60 minute fitness maintainers
  • Yoga power
  • 6 weeks to get 10k ready
  • 16 weeks off-road marathon plan
  • Single-speed bike training
  • 45 minute lunch workouts
  • Ski power
  • Bullet-proof your knees
  • Increase your VO2 capacity
  • Start training for your first ultra

I also have a free copy of Men’s Health, so I can build big arms, train for mixed martial arts, add muscle easily, take six steps to a six pack, train like Bond for the Daniel Craig body and become a better lover through push ups – and that’s just the ones I found listed in the contents!

And here’s the thing, if I wait just a few weeks they’ll come again, and with page after page of different training advice! How can I,  a mere mortal with a dodgy ankle and a few extra lbs, possibly unravel all the advice and work out what is best for me? You need a phd in sport science just to turn the pages of these mags sometimes.

The font of all knowledge?

So I did what our generation always does in these instances…I Googled it.

  • Recovering from ankle ligament damage – 182,000 hits
  • Running drills – 23,500,000 hits
  • Losing weight – 84,400,000 hits
  • Fitness training – 207,000,000 hits
  • Getting fit – 257,000,000 hits

So, if I start reading through those now I should have a concise training plan sorted out by Christmas…in the year 3172.

Not all fitness professionals can be as good as Mr Motivator

So the only sensible option is to turn to a professional, but that isn’t easy either. Firstly you need to find the trainer for you, and there’s lots out there to choose from! (personal trainer cheltenham – 257,000 hits) Most gyms have more PTs than members it seems, and whilst I’m sure they are all lovely, they are all self-employed sales people which makes finding the right one tricky. Over the years I’ve met lots of trainers and they all have their own interests, specialities and motivators and you can see that when you watch them training people with different goals. Then you have the time issue. If you’ve got a date with a trainer life can so easily get in the way. I imagine this is a mentality thing and actually training should be higher on the agenda but it’s a simple fact that my work and friends mean my plans can change in an instant and being tied down to train on Tuesday morning at 7am means no fun Monday night and missing training Tuesday evening and that kind of bind can make motivation a struggle. When you consider that this person is not only responsible for your health and achieving your fitness goals but will also be your boss for an hour a week or more, making sure it’s someone you can happily take orders from is important too. If they’re saying “do this, do that” and you’re thinking “do one” then you’re never going to be 100% invested in your training, and that would be a waste given that you’re paying for it.

And boy do you pay for it.

I used to sell gym memberships (sorry if I signed you up and you were one of the 67% of people who pay for a gym they never go to). I know all the spiel about the cost of your health, gym membership costing less than a night out, breaking it down to cost per day etc. “What price can you put on a few extra years of life?” – I used to say that, I hate myself, you’re welcome to do so too. The point is that I know you need to invest in your health, even if salespeople use some rather underhand techniques to convince you of that!

So what would PT cost? A quick look through the 257,000 pages on Google suggest that £35/hour is about the average. To put that in to context that is my monthly phone bill, the cost of my electric and home insurance combined, or half my petrol spend for the month, for an hour. You need to be realistic about how often you want a session. If you ask a PT they’d suggest 5 times a week and start flicking through the Ferrari brochure! The guys I used to work with would try and get a weekly commitment at least and with 4-5 weeks in a month that could be £175/month! No wonder they get results, their clients can’t afford to eat!

That kind of expenditure is obviously impossible for a lot of people, certainly for me.

I should make it clear though that if you do have the money, and you can find the right trainer, it can be an amazing thing. I may have painted a slightly bleak portrait of fitness professionals but actually the ones I’ve worked with are hugely knowledgeable, do get great results and are worth every penny!

But I guess I’m stuck just bumbling along doing a bit of running here, a few push ups there and hoping that somehow that gets me to the body of an Adonis and running PB times in every race next year. I’m going to have a stab at writing my own training programme this week, picking all the fun bits from my magazines until I have the perfect workout. If you want to join me bullet-proofing my VO2 max on singlespeed skis in the bedroom like Bond then you’re welcome…

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