It happens every year. The sun begins to burn a bit brighter; there is warmth in the air contrasting with a breeze instead of a blast of pure icy numbness on the cheeks. The days get longer, the beer gardens get fuller and the mood of people on the street seems elevated.
|What summer looks like|
Spring is a wonderful season, one in which I’m grateful to have a much less severe reaction to pollen than I did years ago and that I don’t have to wear all of my layers at once to prevent shivering while waiting at the bus stop. In this atmosphere of hope I have another accidental habit which has become something of a ritual. It’s one many of us are familiar with. As the temptation to hibernate during the seemingly never ending English winter dissolves, the glances toward my running shoes increase.
|Please wear us|
Exercise, I feel, could be described as the marmite of adulthood. As children we had unstoppable energy and bounced about like pinballs all day. As grown-ups we work, stress, commute, worry and as a result can ‘treat’ ourselves to distraction. While some naturally include exercise as a healthy part of their lifestyle to unwind and/or balance their lives, I am late to the party.
|Adulting is stressful|
I’ve never been particularly sporty; as a bookworm my coordination has always been more hand to page than limb to ball. I can take a stroll forever but only have 30 seconds worth of stamina when it comes to running. I am also a bit intimidated by the gym and while I did belong to one for a while in Cape Town, I did not go regularly enough to normalise it.
|We gotcha buddy|
Reading this far through my long considered excuses I’m sure you can tell what the ritual is. The exercise, namely running, plan that starts germinating in my mind every spring never carries through to fruition and I end up sighing in autumn out of shame and relief in the full knowledge that starting a new exercise regime in winter is never ever going to happen. Enter 2018.
|Maybe this time…|
The familiar chorus of ‘this year will be different’ still sounds in my ears, but it is less squeaky wheel on a shopping trolley and more motivating mantra. I have already started being more active in general, joining a fun gym session with a buddy on a guest pass a few weeks ago, which has resulted in me gradually building up some healthier habits.
2017 was a big year, basically one long indulgence, and in the last month alone my amount of partying and alcohol/junk food consumption has dramatically decreased. I have been eating more home cooked meals which have also been more vegan than not, as well as taking leftovers into the office for lunch so I can avoid that fatal ‘shopping on an empty stomach’ and snack temptation.
The final hurdle is always the exercise. Dancing while brushing my teeth or at weddings doesn’t quite do it, so I’ve started to include little things into my (almost) daily routine from which to build on. Stretches, squats and sit ups are easily achieved morning or evening and walking a few bus stops down my route home is also becoming a part of my week.
|Maybe counts, probably doesn’t|
Thinking I would need some kind of tangible goal to keep myself motivated on this new course, I have actually surprised myself so far without one. Recently attending a party and drinking alcohol again after nearly a month dry and dancing until 4am, I won’t deny I enjoyed the hedonism but I was actually looking forward to going back to my new routine. Describing my weekend to a colleague on the Monday morning I had to add that it felt like I was finally growing up.
My allergy to running may soon be conquered since I have now signed up for Parkrun, finally, and have found my local weekly 5km walk/jog/run to participate in. I may have no stamina but it’s not going to improve unless I crack on with it, and now I have the barcode to do so officially.
It’s time for the bookworm to stick her head out ‘above the spine’ and give this active thing a go and who knows, maybe it’ll be London marathon 2020 for me. Let’s not place any bets just yet.