I’ve given up reading Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness and the like. There are all sorts of reasons for this. I’m not keen on working out for the sake of working out for a start. I’d rather go for a run or a ride or even have a swim than spend even 10 minutes pushing weights in a gym. The sad fact is though that I need to be stronger to run faster for longer so I’ll have to spend some time over the winter doing just that.
One of the more annoying things about a lot of physical fitness mags is that there is always something along the lines of Lose Your Gut in 15 Minutes, seen on the current cover of Men’s Fitness. I know that when you read the piece, the writer will outline a 15 minute workout for you to do every couple of days or so but the premise of the cover is that you can go from flab to fab in fifteen minutes and you can’t.
You don’t only find this waffle in fitness mags. I’ve seen similar tosh in Runner’s World and Men’s Running. This time you only have to do this series of workouts and you’ll have instant PBs. Want to run a marathon? Here is your plan. I know that to a certain extent that’s true, it downplays all the hard work that has to go into setting your PB or running a marathon. I don’t want anyone to think that running is so hard that they needn’t even bother starting but I’d rather people prepared themselves for the work.
I spotted Shalane Flanagan’s picture of her doing a core workout on a Swiss Ball. You’ll find it on her Facebook page and here on her Instagram feed. She’s working in the gym to be stronger to be a better runner. It’s part of a never-ending process of improvement that elite runner like Shalane have to do to be ready for competition. It’s also inspiration for those of us who will never run a 2:30 marathon or pull on our national vest because if Shalane has to work this hard and she’s already very good, then we have to do similar things to achieve our goals too.
So, if you want a six pack instead of a barrel, train hard. Alternatively, do what I did this morning and have a coughing fit in front of a mirror. As well as having the veins on your neck pop out, your rock-hard abs will suddenly appear. Sadly, this appearance will be so brief that it would take the the next generation of detectors their building for CERN to capture an image but it’s true. In a moment, I had Men’s Fitness Abs.
I’ve been bitten to buggery this week. I have lumps on my legs where I’ve been the unwitting provider of din-dins for various bitey-bastard things. If they’d asked nicely, I would have given them enough blood for them to fill all six of their little boots several times over. Did they ask? Did they fuck. They’re insects, parasites. Vile, nasty, silent, flying, biting, bloody wee things with the “see, want, take” attitude that the Daily Mail ascribes to migrant workers. In fact, the only thing worse than one of these sodding awful creatures is a Daily Mail columnist who doesn’t understand what a parasite really is.
Now, while the unsightly lumps and scars on my legs are a problem for people looking at them I’m not worried about that. My misanthropy will not allow me to give enough of a toss about you lot. Sorry, and all that. Actually, I’m not at all sorry. Sod you. These are my lumpy, hairy wee legs and if I want to expose them to the air and passing peckish Blandford flies then that’s my concern. No, my problem is that the bites are itching and itching and itching and itching.
I don’t seem to be able to do anything to stop the sensation of my flesh wanting to crawl away from my body. It’s really unpleasant. What’s worse even than that is that bits of me which haven’t been bitten are itching too and it’s driving me up the wall, across the ceiling and back down the other wall on the opposite site of the room. Think Lionel Ritchie in Dancing on the Ceiling but with a middle-aged man swearing at his legs.
Itchy bits really should not be scratched. It only prolongs the agony. There is also the possibility of having one of the bites carry an infection so that you end up with bits of you turning green and dropping off. Thank God I’m not a naturist runner. Oddly enough, I get no relief at all when my itchy bits or the hands and nails I use to scratch them are wet. No idea why that should be the case. Maybe there’s a tame scientist out there who will be able to tell me.
I never used to have this problem. I only started to get a reaction to insect bites a few years ago. I was out running around Coldham’s Common and picked up six or seven bites close together on my ankle. My ankle in turn swelled up so much it looked like I’d sprained it badly. Ever since, I’ve had a strong histamine reaction to the bites I get each summer. There is another possible explanation. I never used to spend much time outdoors with flesh exposed to atmosphere, sun and biting bastards. It’s possible I would always have had this reaction, it’s just that until I started running I never gave the sodding things the chance to give me the welts.
So, just one more thing I can justifiably blame on running when I’m feeling shit about it.