Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions


Fighting Fit

April 26, 2009 by Richard Wright in Journal, Life

Full disclosure. I’m a physical wreck. While in January I ran nearly fifty miles, February saw that fade quickly away, around the same time cigarettes once more crept their way into my day on a daily basis (this is not a coincidence). March was a non-event, but last week, finally, I went out on a few short runs, started building it into my schedule again. You see, when I get married in September, I’d quite like my fiance not to take one look at me, and realise she’s made a hideous mistake.

I’d like a good couple of years before that happens, thanks all the same.

In a rare burst of willing, I’m taking it a bit further. Yesterday, I found the British Army’s sixteen week training programme, used to get new recruits match-ready for all that fighting and running about they do.  That’s probably understating what a new recruit goes through, to be honest, as this is the fitness work-out bit, how I imagine they spend the first couple of hours before running off to do assault courses / lift heavy things/ shoot stuff up. They get a lot fitter than I will, even if I can get through the thing. I’m also starting from well below the level of a new recruit, who has already met a minimum standard to be allowed to turn up. I’m subterranean, baby.

As has just been shamefully demonstrated to me this very evening. Before you can start the program, you have to test your own fitness, to give a baseline, and judge how many of what exercises you’re going to be subjecting yourself to in the coming months. Every four weeks, you do this same test again, see how you’re improving, and get a new baseline. Here’s how it went.

Press-up Max Test: As many British Army style press-ups as you can manage in two minutes. I didn’t expect this to go well, as I’m massively underdeveloped in the arms and chest. I was right. My tally. Sixteen. Absolutely pathetic. The guide gives you an idea of how well your score ranks. For a male my age, anything less than thirty-one is the bottom of the chart, marked ‘poor’. To be absolutely fair to myself, I misread the instructions on how to do an army press-up, making things much harder in the process, but I can’t imagine I would have got above thirty-one even doing it right. Wow. My initial goal is to improve to being merely ‘average’. This is sad.

Sit-up Max Test: Another case of doing as much as you can in two minutes. I came in at forty-one, which hits the middle of ‘average’. Better, I suppose. As you’ll see, my average abs are officially a high point.

1.5 Mile Run Test: Run the distance, state your time. I thought I’d be okay at this, but January was a long time ago. I made thirteen minutes and twenty-seven seconds, which drops off the bottom of the chart as ‘poor’.

Sit And Reach Test: Sit on the floor, feet flat against a wall about eight inches apart. You slide your fingers alongside your leg towards the wall, to the furthest point you can hold them for three seconds. Then you measure the distance from fingers to wall. Eleven inches. I am officially not bendy. There’s no chart for this one, but it’s safe to assume that ‘touching the wall’ is the best score, and eleven inches is not.

Body Mass Index: You know this one. Mine’s twenty-seven, just inside ‘overweight’.

Waist To Hip Ratio: Divide the size of your waist around your navel by the size of your hips around your buttocks. The result is apparently a better indication of whether your body weight is healthy than BMI. For a man, 0.9 or less is desirable. I’m 0.97.

Jesus wept. It’s a standing start, isn’t it? Still, I suppose if I was already fit, I wouldn’t be doing this in the first place. I’m also a little hungover and a lot tired. Excuses, excuses…

Breaking the training down works out as three runs and two strength workouts per week. I’ll add the optional flexibility session to that on one of the rest days, and if things go well, perhaps another run after a few weeks. I did three last week, so know that’s not a problem. I like running. Strength workouts, I think I’m going to loathe. I also have to get rid of the smokes again, and stay off them instead of yo-yoing back to them within a week. Drinking less often will also help quite a lot, I guess.

Simple, right? Right?

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  1. JackieApril 27, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Ai-yi-yi. I totally feel your pain. I’m in almost the exact same spot as you are. My upper body is seriously under-developed, my body fat index is into the “overweight” category, and I run okay (if slow) but I loathe strength training.

    I’ve been DYING at bootcamp. Today was the worst by far. I never knew I could be so out of shape. I feel fantastic AFTER working out, but I honestly feel like dying during the exercize segments. After two weeks, I already feel stronger, though, and I sense my body shifting about (less inches on the hips, more muscle, etc.). My camp is only four weeks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I either continued on my own, or signed up again. It’s been really good for me, even though it’s insanely grueling.

    16 weeks, though. Gah! You don’t do anything half-assed to you? No, Sir.

  2. Richard WrightApril 28, 2009 at 8:21 pmAuthor

    Already wondering why, why, why…

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