The "Jockstrap Gym"

I go to a gym which I affectionately call the "jock-strap gym". It's acquired this name as, when I first visited it and was considering membership, there was a rather disconcerting smell around the place. I have no idea what a sweaty jockstrap smells like but it was as close as my imagination could come to identifying the smell. Notwithstanding the pungent odour, I decided to join as I've been a (poor attending, under performing) member of a number of gyms which are populated by lycra-clad, anorexic bimbos or steroid-abusing, musclebound poseurs and I simply don't fit in. People like that upset my training regime as I find it hard not to judge and get irritated. The jockstrap gym was, it seemed, populated by ordinary people just trying to get a little fitter (and hopefully not die prematurely of heart disease or stroke). I can identify with this. I've no desire to become a super athlete but I know that without concerted effort, my body will rebel. I have a gym at home which I use regularly but I never seem to get the results or push myself to the level I do when there's other people around. It's something to do with the different dynamics and atmosphere and the fact that we're group animals. I often get on the running machine and silently promise myself that I won't stop running until all the other guys on the machines have finished. One of these days I'll come seriously unstuck as I'll end up on a treadmill next to a triathalete and I'll have a heart attack before he finishes his run!

The gym has improved and been modernised considerably since I joined (about 4 years ago) but I'll always think of it as the jockstrap gym and, strangely, I feel comfortable there even though it's now attracting some of the 'lycra-lovies'

weight machines

About a year ago, one of the trainers in the gym put up a poster advertising the "100 Mile Challenge". The idea was to do 100 miles using four different pieces of apparatus - treadmill, cross trainer (stepping machine), rowing machine and bike. The 100 miles could be broken down any way you wanted but there was a condition that at least 10% of the total (i.e.10 miles) had to be done on each piece of equipment. I thought about this and commented that it was an awful lot to do in a day and that it might be beyond the reach of most average gym-goers. " No, you tosser, it's supposed to be done over a week!" was the trainer's response. "No-one could do it in a day!" ...... I retreated, suitably admonished.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to challenge the notion that it couldn't be done in a day. As anyone who knows me well will know, one of the best ways of getting me to do something is to say that it can't be done (or, increasingly these days, that it shouldn't be done). My friends take advantage of this and I'm often the one who will, against my better judgement, try something which is a bit outside the norm. I'm sure that, understanding my stubborness, some of the guys who know me well will dream up silly challenges which they know I'll have a go at, just for their own amusement. Joking apart, I've always believed that if you think something can't be done, you've already defeated yourself whereas if you believe that it can be done, you're halfway to achieving it. Ask Roger Bannister or Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Anyway, the idea of doing 100 miles in the gym in one day played on my mind and I started working out timings and the logistics of such a challenge and I think at that stage, I'd decided try it. In fact, I think I'd decided to do it as soon as the trainer in the gym said it couldn't be done although it's taken me nearly 12 months to set a date. That date is to be 1st June 2011 for no particular reason aside from the fact that at the time I set the date (early 2011), I still had a few months time to train properly for the task. However, as is usual for me, time's passed rather quickly and I truly haven't done much by way of proper training. In fact, I haven't done much at all except talk about it. Also, I've just been on holiday to Cyprus and put on an additional 7 pounds of weight! At the time of writing therefore, (April 2011) I genuinely do not know if I can do this and I'm beginning to wonder why I even wanted to do it in the first place.


The target

Treadmill - 26.2 miles

A Marathon! It would be good to run a 'gym Marathon' and if I could do it in under 4 hours, I'd be pleased with myself but I know from doing my Marathon on Anglesey in 2008 that I wouldn't normally have a lot of energy left afterwards even though I'd only be just over a quarter of the way through the challenge. If I go at a more moderate pace (say 6 mph) it'll take me about 4 hours 23 minutes.

Running machines

Cross-trainer (stepping machine) - 10 miles

I truly hate the stepping machine so I'll do the minimum 10 miles. It's not comfortable for me and the maximum speed I can manage is about 3-4 mph so it's going to take me at least 2.5 hours. I've worked out that it'll require some 2000 steps per mile which is a total of 20,000 steps.

Stepping machines

Rowing machine - 10 miles

I'm not fond of the rowing machine either so it'll be another 10 miles (16,000 metres) if I can even breathe by this time. I've worked out that it takes me 15 pulls per 100 metres so it will require 2,400 pulls. This is at a rate of 8 minutes per mile but if I allow 10 minutes per mile (as I'll be knackered and slowing down) it'll take about 1 hour 40 minutes.

Rowing machines

Bike - 54 miles

The remainder of the 100 miles will have to be done on the bikes which I believe is the easier of the 4 pieces of equipment (at least I can sit down!) so I'll need to do 54 miles. If I aim for an average of 15 mph then it'll take me about 3 hours 40 minutes.

Cycling machines

So.... there it is - "seemples" as Aleksandr the Meekat would say. 26 miles running, 10 miles stepping, 10 miles rowing and 54 miles cycling. Over 12 hours of continuous activity and approximately 10,000 calories burned.

The gym opens at 08.00 and closes at 21.00 so I only have 13 hours maximum. I haven't allowed for any breaks, transfer times from one machine to another, toilet breaks (although I'm likely to be sweating so much, I won't need a pee!) or time to take in any water. This is starting to look like a formidible challenge.



An average Male of my size and weight will burn approximately 2000 to 2500 calories per day without any particularly strenuous activity. If the overall challenge is going to burn an additional 10,000 calories then the maths are simple - I need to somehow take in about 12,000 calories. Power gel/energy bars and electrolyte drinks delivering Carbs, Potassium and Sodium as well as rehydrating me will be essential. I'm also going to have to think carefully about diet, sleep and alcohol intake leading up to 1st June and then dietary supplements in the recovery period too.

I think I'd better start training.....

more to follow

8th February 2019

So..........Fuck knows what happened in 2011! But suffice to say, my great plans of testing myself in the gym seemed to evaporate and I embarked instead on a debauched, mid-life crisis of sorts. But here I am back - albeit nearly 8 years later (EIGHT FUCKING YEARS!!!!).

The gym has changed quite a bit. Some new equipment and most significantly, it's now open 24 hours so I can pace myself and do it in a day rather than 12 hours.

I'm not going to mess around; I'm signed up to do a 10K run in Manchester in May, a half marathon in Liverpool in July and I'm climbing Mont Blanc in August so I'd better get training and get this 100 mile thing under my belt. However, I visited the gym for the first time in years on Wednesday 6th February and managed a mere 2 miles on the running machine and have suffered 3 subsequent days of stiffness and pain. In my defence, I'm carrying a significant injury.On 28th December I was riding my horse and due to a freak accident, the girth came undone, the saddle detached and I came off. That would have been ok if not for the fact that I was cantering up a hill at the time with a waterfall on one side and a dry-stone wall on the other and so I came off at speed and landed awkwardly as I was twisting in mid-air as I could see the wall approaching and my initial trajectory would have smashed my head or face in the wall! The Human brain is an amazing piece of equipment; when instantaneously flooded with adrenaline, it's possible to have a gazillion clear and distinct thoughts in a micro-second and I could see the fall and project it's consequences as if in slow-motion. I deliberately twisted in mid-air and avoided hitting the wall with my head (which, joking apart could have broken my neck - I want to be Superman, not Christopher Reeve) but the base of my back smashed into the wall at ground level and I REALLY hurt myself. It took me a good while to get to my feet, retrieve Lady B, get her saddle back on and ride home and every step of the way was painful. I wouldn't be at all surprised if I broke my pelvis but having Googled all that, it seems that an uncomplicated fracture of the pelvis or connected bones will eventually heal itself and so (perhaps foolishly, as I was off on holiday the following week and didn't want there to be any travel insurance issues) I spurned the opportunity to go and waste several hours of my life in the waiting room at A&E. I elected instead to 'self-assess' for a few days and see how things were after a restful holiday. The pain subsided to a degree and I never did go to get myself checked out but it's now been 6 weeks and I'm still having difficulty getting in and out of the car and putting my socks on! But I'm riding as Lady B needs her exercise.

Anyway......all that is my excuse for performing so poorly at the gym. Pain is always manageable however intense it is. It always abates. It can be harnessed. So being in pain is really no excuse for not starting to train again. I'm going to do it week by week and start modestly and just build the distance and the speed. I've just read a book called "Can't Hurt Me" by an ex USN Seal called David Goggins and this guy completed his Navy Seal training on two broken legs!!! His whole philosophy is that the Human body is capable of much more than we imagine and if you don't try, you'll never know.Ultimately, it's not your legs that give up, it's your mind - but it's possible to strengthen your mind. I am going to embrace some of that thinking.

For my own benefit, I'll record my efforts, starting with the pathetic and hopefully working up to the impressive (something for the Grandkids to aspire to - I'm already known as "crazy Grandad" based on past exploits and secretly, I actually quite like that).

6th February - Running - 2.16 miles - incline 10% - 27 minutes 20 seconds. That's more than 12 minutes a mile but I was just testing out my leg/hip/pelvis/back and stretching. Man, it hurt! (for days).

8th February - bought some new Nike running shoes. Call it a statement of intent. Haha! The cost was ridiculous and they were undoubtedly made by the same sweat-shop, underpaid, Vietnamese 9 year-olds as all the other 'named' brands. I have a pang of guilt about being part of the problem rather than being part of the solution to such Western capitalist exploitation.

10th February - Running 3 miles - 31minutes 55 seconds (just over 5.6 mph and a little more than a 10minute mile). Rowing just over 0.5 miles (818 metres) - 3 minutes 28 seconds.

16th February - Not done any running or gym for nearly a week. This is not good. Simply not had time; work, DIY, Family commitments, my Horse, social outings all seem to leave me with little time and, more worryingly, little energy.Also, I'm still hurting quite badly from my fall off Lady B in December and it's been months now rather than weeks and I'm still not right. I have to get myself sorted and get into a regular training regime or I'll never do this. I've signed up for another local 10k race in May a week before the one in Manchester and I think I'm doing this just to put myself under pressure as I will tell enough people about the races I've entered to ensure that I actually do them as I simply won't want to deal with the embarassment of admitting to friends that I bottled-out. But at the moment, I don't feel like I could run up the stairs let alone do Mont Blanc, a couple of 10k races, a subsequent half-marathon or the 100 mile challenge. Every time I ride it seems to aggravate things. But I can't not ride as my horse needs to be worked. It's a classic case of trying to fit 'quarts into pint pots' and I often find in my life that I am trying to do more things than the time allows and consequently doing none of them justice. I have to get a grip.


Chorley 10k race - 12th May 2019

10th May 2019 - Ok, I've done nothing in the last 3 months other than think about going to the gym. I ran up to the stables (1.2 miles) and back a couple of times and it left me panting for breath. Trouble is, I have the first of my 10k runs in 3 days on Sunday 12th May. It's the "Chorley 10k" and I signed up for it in a moment of madness as I thought that it would be a good final training run for the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run the following Sunday on 19th. However, I had assumed that I would have done plenty of running prior to this point. In fact, apart from the jog up to the stables I've done NO training whatsoever. The Chorley 10K is going to be a question of pure willpower.

12th May 2019 - I'm kitted up and I look the part of a runner but in my heart I know that I shouldn't even be attempting this let alone trying to come in with a sub-60 minute time (which is my personal target). In better days, I guess I could have easily done 6.25 miles in less than an hour but I'm 62, haven't done any serious road running for 11 years (since the Angelsey Marathon) and I've done zero training. In fact, I was out at a party last night and didn't remain tee-total! This could well be an embarassing disaster.

There are over 1000 competitors (1037 to be precise) at the first ever Chorley 10K and many seem to be serious runners from running clubs. As I'm sat waiting in a shop doorway, near the start point; I'm looking at everyone's legs and feeling a touch intimidated as they all look stronger, sturdier and more powerful than mine; much more suited to running multiple miles than those of yours truly. I feel more than a twinge of anxiety but I shrug it off and wade through the crowd to muster behind the start line and wait for the 10.30 kick-off. The elite runners are at the front and then there are pace runners timed at 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65 and 70 minutes and people are positioning themselves behind the pacer they think is their likely or target time. I slot in behind the 55 minute pacer (optimistic or what??) and then the announcer gives the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown and we're off.

I start very slowly as people are bunched up as we go through the start gate. Each runner's bib number has an electronic tag/chip on it and the clock for them starts as soon as they go through the gate. I get through the gate but can't move forward for the crowd and it's a good 100 yards before the field spaces out enough to have a clear run. I put on a bit of a spurt to try to make up the time I know I've already lost at the beginning but this, in retrospect is a mistake, as I start to tire immediately and have to slacken my pace. I'm just about starting to get a reasonable tempo by the time we get to the 1 kilometre marker.

I won't give a pace-by-pace commentary; suffice to say I found it hard but I finished it. I was never not going to do it but equally, I was never going to break any records or be mistaken for a professional runner! It was hot weather and there was little shade. If it had been overcast I would imagine everyone's times would have improved a little. I was pleased and a little surprised to see that I was well under 30 minutes at the halfway mark but I was knackered too. The 10k was a circular course through Astley Park but it was a 2-lap course and so once you'd been around once, you had to run the whole thing again. I found this to be more mentally taxing than if it had just been one long circular course because you can't help your mind focussing on the uphill sections that you might have found difficult and knowing that you have to do it all again. I was tracking my run with the 'Map My Run' app and it gives split times and performance stats on a per-mile basis. I was struggling the last couple of miles and I ended up running/walking in sections which brought my MPH average down considerably. I knew I had time to play with from the first 5k but I nearly fucked-up my overall time and almost failed my own, self-imposed target of doing it in less than an hour by taking it too easy in the closing stages. I was shocked at the piss-poor performance over the last 2 miles when I analysed the stats after I got home.

As I staggered over the finish line, I was given a finisher's medal, a bottle of water and a Chorley cake for energy. I couldn't help but think that I could have done with the energy boost 2 miles from home! I walked a few streets away from the crowd and sat on a stone step in someone's doorway and ate my cake. I didn't check the time. I was dizzy. As I sipped my water and nibbled half-heartedly at the Chorley cake, I felt tired but quite pleased. It was over. For now. But another one next week!

I drove home and got into a cold bath. It was horrible and lovely all at the same time. Pleasurably stimulating and yet painfully icy. I looked down at my shrunken manhood, almost blue and half it's normal size and I did wonder why I was doing all this.

Later, I checked the official results and my chip time was 59 minutes and 50.68 seconds. Phew! Just made it under an hour with 9 seconds to spare. If I hadn't been such a wimp on the last couple of miles, I would have had a decent time. But what really gave me a wake-up call was the thought that if I'd just walked a few more paces (which was so tempting and would have been so easy to do) rather than running, I would have slipped back over an hour and I'd have been very unhappy with that. I thought I had plenty of time to play with after the first lap but it's scary how the pace slows. It would have helped if I'd taken a wristwatch but like an idiot, I forgot. I won't make that mistake in Manchester next week and my unofficial personal target is to do it in less than 55 minutes.


Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run - 19th May 2019

I'm still stiff from my endeavours in the Chorley 10k a full week ago and I'm really not looking forward to this. However, the weather is forecast fine but not too hot, the course is a large circular one rather than laps and the route goes via Old Trafford Football Club and the Imperial War museum so at least there'll be things to see. Additionally, I now know that, provided there are no accidents, delays, injuries or bouts of illness, I can at least finish a 10K as I did one 7 days ago!

The elevation on the route is pretty flat (as most City races are) and the organisation seems slick and professional. As with most of these challenges, I'll be travelling over to Manchester solo as I tend to discourage Family and Friends from attending. Selfishly, I'd prefer it to be just me and the course rather than have any worries about meeting up, or trying to pick faces out of the crowd. At least if I'm on my own I can focus and have no excuses.It's a head game as much as it is about stamina and fitness. If my mind is in a mess, I'll balls it up irrespective of how much training I have or haven't done. But if my mind is clear and focussed and I am determined then there's genuinely little I can't accomplish or at least have a credible attempt at. Most of the things we fail at in Life result from us telling ourselves that we can't do them. Without belief, failure is almost inevitable.

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