It’s August 4th, eleven and a half weeks to the SCB Marathon.
I arrived at the Stanley Health Club on this cold Monday morning to get my fitness assessment from Nina, the Senior Fitness Instructor at the Sarova Stanley. As I approached her, I could swear I saw her smirk as she held out the assessment form and felt defensive “I told you I was unfit and overweight!!!” I wanted to scream!… But now it’s official and on paper. There’s no denying it. I am overweight and ranked way below average on all the fitness tests she gave me. We have a lot of work to do if I am going to persist in entering and finishing that 21 kilometres (I am no longer gunning for the full 42K, but the half marathon length. Let’s leave that for the professionals, Tergat and Wanjiku OK!)
Nina then unveiled her training plan for me for the next 4 weeks. She calls it the “beginner’s” program, but after a quick glance at it, I looked up expecting her to apologise for the mix-up… This CAN’T be it! It IS a mix-up, isn’t it? No? Oh God.
My program involves lots of cardiovascular exercises, with complimentary weight training to increase my strength. It looks like this:
Day 1 – High intensity cardio: 20 minutes on the treadmill, at a speed above 9.5. This means I am running on that dang machine! Then, 20 minutes on the cross trainer at level 10 or above… and 15 minutes on the stepper at level 6 or above! (What?!)
Day 2 – A workout of my chest, legs and triceps to strengthen these muscles.
Day 3 – One hour of Spin class. Spin is a form of high cardio exercise which includes riding on a stationary “spin” bike.
Day 4 – A workout of my shoulders, back and biceps.
Day 5: High intensity cardio as per day 1. (Dear God!)
My program is designed over 5 days, for the next 4 weeks. I wonder when I will fit in all those days into my busy schedule as a media executive and soccer mum, but Nina is not listening to my excuses. She insists (read: demands) I will find an hour in my busy schedule to come to the gym. I argue with her that this is not a beginners program because she has me doing cardio for 45 minutes! What does the advanced program look like then? But I’m clearly wasting my breath. Nina is standing (literally) firm.
As I continue in what I believe are my well-formed arguments, Lucy, another trainer at the gym comes along, stopping cheekily to propose that I do the Spa Challenge instead. That’s the one where you come to the gym and visit the steam room (20 minutes), sauna (10 minutes), get a massage (30 minutes), drink some fresh mango juice, shower and leave. I’m honestly tempted. But I too stand firm in my new endeavour… I guess am stuck with Nina’s program.
I get on the treadmill for day one’s activities and do my 20 minutes at a “walking run”, head on over to the cross trainer and, as I am starting to feel good about myself, Nina comes… and increases my speed (argh!!!). I sweat and pant –but it feels so dang good when I am through 20 minutes later! There’s something about exercising that lifts your mood and makes you feel on top of the world, is it pheromones that are emitted? Sort of how you feel after a great night of passionate, romantic sex with your beloved partner! Now for the stepper.
I drag my sweat stained self to the horrible machine, but only manage 5 minutes before I call it quits. A quick glance around cheers me up no end: Nina is busy with another client! I quickly stretch and literally run away to the changing room to shower and change, before she notices I’m gone.
I spend 15 minutes under the glorious shower that massages all my aches. With the current water shortage, this shower is like paradise, considering the bucket baths I have had to contend with the last couple of days at home. Shortly, I am all changed into my power suit, make up and all, and ready to head back to the office to face an afternoon of deadlines. I am feeling on top of the world!
As I step out of the changing room, I collide head on with (whom else?) NINA. I quickly try to brush past her, but she can see the look on my guilt-ridden face and dresses me down sternly, warning me never to “try and cheat”, or else! Darn, thought I could get away with it, but realise I am dealing with a no-nonsense trainer. I’m actually starting to get scared of Nina… she’s a tough cookie I must say! I see that she just wants results, and maybe she prides herself in ensuring I meet my Resolution number 3. God Bless her!… Or should I say, God help me!
Next week: I get a surprise invitation to join the “Runner’s Club”. I am excited and very scared. Will I be the laughing stock?
The writer is a 30-something year old Kenyan, who is passionate about being online, but can’t stand Facebook! She is currently employed by the Capital Group Ltd and resides in Nairobi with her two children aged 10 and 2 yrs.
Editor’s Note: Are you training for a big event, marathon or race? Share your experience on what it takes to run a 10K, 21K or a full marathon. Post your comments below.