Halfway through a hearty new five month fitness program, I was hoping to write now about the fat I had blasted off my hips, my increasing strength and endurance, and how I had beaten a long distance run and had increased the anti to for a half marathon to plan.
Reader, this is not that column.
In July, I wrote semi-smugly about my new health project, which started with an offer from Best Foods and the Vodafone Warriors to put me in touch with a personal trainer, nutritionist, and personal workout plan to keep me in shape by the summer.
Everything was fine for about two months. I’d given up almost all processed foods in favor of lots of fish and vegetables, experimented with protein shakes, reduced alcohol consumption, and increased my workouts from a few yoga sessions a week to three strength or high-intensity workouts and a few runs, aiming at up to reach 10 km.
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In just a few weeks, I had reduced my total fat percentage from 29 to 27 percent, shaved inches almost everywhere, and exercised constantly and for the most part without any discomfort. I had run my furthest distance – 7 km – and held complex power poses in yoga for longer. I enjoyed it.
ROSA WOODS / stuff
Kelly Dennett trained consistently and mostly without complaints. Then it came to lockdown.
Then everything fell apart. Two weeks ago a busy work week distracted me. After after-work meetings, meeting friends and traveling (training clothes packed, sneakers forgotten) I only got to the gym once. As if on cue, that same week my knee began to hurt during the night, a dull throb that increased in intensity over several days and was something like that grim, earth-shaking tremor when you slam on your strange bones, but without the relief a few seconds later. Heat, ice, ibuprofen – none of them worked. I wondered if I should drag myself to the hospital for a morphine rush.
Thankfully, it is gone, and while it would make sense to see a physical therapist, we were hit by – you guessed it – level 4 lockdown. In summary, it can be said that my training sessions have been reduced to a few gentle walks around the block and some gentle living room things. And where one goes, the other does it too, of course. I succumbed to Whittaker’s chocolate, creamy pasta, fried potatoes, martinis, and a bottle of wine (OK, two). I baked.
In the meantime, I’ve obsessed with reading about recovery time from injury and how others have managed to stay healthy when they can’t flash a half-hour run. To my dismay, there is a whole community of people out there who have been injured so badly that it took months or years to recover. Some never did. With that in mind, I’m really trying to take it easy on myself – but it’s also a good wake up call to get back on shape, walk slowly, and spot warning signs of overuse.
Consistency is key, says Craig Twentyman, Head of Athletics Performance at Warriors. With a touch of desperation, I wrote to him asking how quickly fitness is falling after a few weeks of banking, be it to focus on work, having kids, recovering from injuries, or being stuck in lockdown.
Of course, different people lose fitness at different rates, says Twentyman. For example: “Speed potential starts to decrease after 2-7 days, muscle endurance starts to decrease after 10-21 days, anaerobic endurance after 14-21 days, maximum strength after 21-28 days and aerobic endurance after 21-28 days. These schedules are more applicable to an athletic person, so the decline in capacity in the general population would likely be a little faster. “
So for someone like me (not an athlete) it will go faster. But it’s not all bad news. Twentyman says, “It’s harder to build from a lower base than it is to maintain a certain level. The rate of decline in your “fitness” reflects how long you have been exercising regularly.
“If you’ve been exercising regularly for 12 months and taking a two-week break, your rate of decline will be much lower than someone who has been exercising regularly for six months. That is why consistency in training is so important. “
At least a couple of weeks blip won’t bring me back to zero.
Sharon McCutch / UNSPLASH
Chocolate, wine, baking … processed foods have crept back into my diet.
Injuries should be viewed as an opportunity to improve another aspect of your fitness, says Twentyman.
“Don’t stress yourself about what you can’t do, look at what you can do, and think about what you think you could benefit from doing more that you normally don’t spend time doing .
“If you’re a runner with a lower limb injury, spend some time swimming and cycling to maintain your aerobic fitness – and work on strengthening your legs, as there are plenty of studies that highlight the positive effects of an increase the leg strength affects the running economy.
“If you have an upper limb injury, keep lifting because there is research that highlights neuronal force transmission from one side of the body to the other.”
So I work on staying active while taking care of my knees but also taking care of my food. Following a top diet will also help with repair and recovery (strange as it feels, not marrying comfort foods with comfort Netflix revelers).
And finally, the words I had hoped to hear: There are also positive things about taking a break, says Twentyman. If lockdown is particularly stressful, such as arranging work from home with parenting and home schooling, the need to think about exercise will add to the pressure. While stress can sometimes be a good motivation for taking a walk outside, it’s okay to take it easy on yourself too.
“Sometimes people are too fixated on their training routine – ‘I have to do X and Y, otherwise it’s a waste of time’. (But) lockdown is a chance to be creative with your workout, which can refresh you mentally and physically. Sometimes less is more – if you exercise cautiously for a week or two, you can improve your fitness. “
Craig Twentyman, left, head of athletic performance for the Vodafone Warriors, pictured with player Euan Aitken.
Do you only have a few minutes a day? Small movements for maximum impact (recommended by Craig Twentyman)
- Check out lots of pushups that you can do in groups of 10 in a day.
- Lie flat on the floor every half hour and get up five times.
- How many stairs can you walk / run in your house throughout the day?
- Every hour, stop what you are doing and do 10 pushups / 15 squats / 20 sit-ups
- Walk / run with the family – alternating walking / running between utility poles.
- Long walks and bike rides with the family.
- If possible, involve the children as this will help them understand the importance of exercise in everyday life.
* The training and expert advice for this piece was paid for and provided by Best Foods and the Warriors.