Today marked the biggest first in my new life since I took my deepest post-transplant breath off the ventilator – I joined a gym and began a programme of real, bona fide physical exercise.
It kind of feels like everything I’ve been doing since I escaped from the hospital has been gearing up for this moment. Finally getting into good physical shape, being fit and strong, has been one of the goals in my life that has always eluded me. For years I’ve wanted to get in shape and every time I’ve tried I’ve been stopped – either by physical resistance, lack of will power or full-on hospitalisation. In the end, the idea of achieving anything physically was about as far from my thoughts as anything, although it remained something I knew I’d strive for as soon as I got my transplant.
The induction today went brilliantly – the trainers at the gym are exceptional and really know their stuff. Not only had he spoken to my physios at Harefield to find out what I should and shouldn’t be doing and what sort of benchmarks I should be aiming for at this point, 13 weeks post-transplant, but he’d also been doing private reading into transplantation and fitness.
After a quick general once-over, including a grip-strength and flexibility test (proving I am officially the least flexible person in the entire world), we set off to do a quick circuit of the machines I’d be using. I’ve a detailed programme of cardio work to do for a couple of weeks, increasing steadily, before we think about adding in some resistance work to help build my muscles strength and tone (the vanity bit).
I’m doing a 5-minute cycle warm-up, followed by 5 minutes on the most evil invention in the world – the cross-trainer. I’ve never felt anything quite as horrible as the physical exhaustion that sets in so incredibly quickly when you’re pumping your arms and swirling your legs on some weird approximation of Nordic skiing. When I’ve recovered from that I’ve got 500m to row, followed by the main aim of the workout, the treadmill.
My short-term goal for my training is to be able to run a mile my April 13, when I hit Tresco to finish the marathon with my bro (sponsor me/us here). Our trainer at the gym thinks this is something I can build to and has set me on a build-up program on the treadmill. I walk for 2 minutes as a warm up, then aim to run/jog for a minute, take 2-3 minutes to recover at walking pace before another minute’s worth of jogging, then walk it off. The idea being that each time I go I can gradually decrease the rest/walk time between runs and increase the time I’m running until I can manage 10 minutes at a jog, which should – plus a little extra effort for a couple of minutes – see me over the finish line.
For those of you interested in following my progress up to the big day, I’ve kicked off a training-blog at trescomile.wordpress.com to keep track of my training and keep me honest – those of you with big sicks to wield will need to keep a close eye on how I’m doing. Unlike my slightly shabby updates on this blog, I hope to be disciplined enough to update the training blog after each session. (Chance’d be a fine thing…).
Today also saw the two of us catch up with an old friend and work colleague of K’s who’s celebrating her 21st tonight. Still not being able to properly put myself out and about in a busy pub of an evening, we decided to mark the event with a trip to Krispie Kreme and coffee at home instead.
The trip to KK served us well enough to take a tasty treat over to S&G in the evening, too, where we had a great natter and catch up with them both whilst introducing Suze to the delights of the glazed donut. Was great to catch up – we talked so much we didn’t even get chance to play a pay-back game of music Buzz that K was so desperate for, since I kicked her butt at movie Buzz the last time the four of us were together. But then, everyone knows I know nothing about music, so it’s hardly humiliating to get trounced. The bug embarrassment is losing movie Buzz to someone and since that someone last time was Gary, I made sure we weren’t going to be playing that again…
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