Tag: Exercise

Night-Walking Pro Tips!

(the not-very-long awaited!)

As someone who bumbles around London well after the sun has pissed off to the safety of its flat, presumably up near the Waitrose on Holloway Road because the sun can’t really afford a more central property but hails from the sort of family where shopping at Waitrose is considered the norm, I’m quite good at not being murdered while doing it. So I’d like to give you some advice on walking in cities at night, advice that is to be taken with a pinch of salt, but may actually be useful. Blimey, I’m doing proper advice now.

1) Use headphones to your advantage

If you’re nervous about walking around, don’t wear over-ear headphones, the big clunky ones that cover your whole ears and can’t be worn under a hood. This flags up to potential murderers that you’re likely to be deprived of a sense (sound, which is critical for locating and assessing threats outside of your field of vision), and also affluent enough to afford a stupidly overpriced set of Beats. Conversely, you could use them as a kind of creepy bastard-radar, muting your music to give the impression of idiocy and vulnerability, whereas in reality you’re primed to leg it if that guy who looks like he’s been tailing you for a block makes a move. Although the latter use is generally for ballsy motherfrakkers, so I’d not encourage it.

2) Stick to main roads

This sounds obvious, but light tends to be safer than darkness, and main roads are generally more secure than even cute little residential areas that look harmless during the day. There’s a secondary point here too, that you ought to be confident wherever you walk: attackers tend to lurk in shadows, and so you sticking to them may make yourself vulnerable and make it difficult for a friendly passerby to see you’re in trouble, as opposed to unseen and safe; if you’re stomping up Camden Road in Doc Martens, people are more likely to think you know what you’re doing with yourself, and may avoid you.

3) Dress like a peasant

This may sound like a bit of a contradiction at first – how can I be confident and self-assured if I’m not wearing my favourite jacket?! – but it makes sense; your favourite jacket, while empowering, is encrusted with gold and woven with unicorn pubes, and is a beacon of foolish wealth much like an expensive set of headphones. Generally, dark, baggy attire will help create an aura of ‘I’m angry, young and poor, don’t piss me off’-edness and can disguise your frame if you’re not a particularly well-built individual. Also, this isn’t to moronically de-gender your outfits – everyone knows that wearing a dress doesn’t actually make a person more likely to encounter trouble – as the emphasis is on appearing nondescript and independent, rather than masculine or feminine.

4) Know where you’re going

Getting lost and going for a wander can be marvellous, especially in a fun place and/or with fun people. Just don’t do it at night. I like to march up a main road, then straight back down it again, ensuring I make note or tell others of where I’m heading.

5) Bring a friend

This is the biggest one, and rather covers all the other tips by itself: if you’re with someone, headphones are a non-factor as you’re chatting; you don’t need to make an effort to appear confident as two people have inherently more presence than one; a bodyguard or police-caller is infinitely more effective as a deterrent than a loose hoodie; and you can make even the most tedious of one-way walks amusing with a buddy. Plus, you get to do the whole socialising thing, which is nice, and it’s a decent form of exercise.

Or, you can stay in 24/7 and slowly grow into a lethargic Mario Kart-playing blob. I can attest to the crapness of this latter idea.

Self-Imprisonment

(despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage)

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I quite like exercise. Not just ‘sports’, the competitive, communal institutionalisation of exercise, but basic ‘exercise’ itself, the movement of one’s body. As well as the fourteen million sports I spend all my time doing instead of my degree or getting a job, I walk every day around Regent’s Park for about an hour; it’s not strenuous, and it’s not part of a secret plan to run away and join the British Olympic program for the 20k racewalk, it’s just because I like walking. It clears my head, lets me listen to the entire Rise Against discography in chronological order, and is a nice break from eight-hour Football Manager sessions.

But at the moment, I’m having to force myself not to exercise, including these walks. I have a flag football tournament in a week’s time, and my karate grading will be a few days after that, and I’ll have to be physically strong for both of these; at the moment, I can’t really walk without my legs aching and telling me to amputate my arms to cut down on the weight they have to carry. So as much as I’d like to be training for these things, my performance will probably be better if I recover, instead of training five times a week, which is both counter-intuitive for me, and intensely annoying.

This also extends to other kinds of exercise; I’m not going to clubs for the next week, simply because my legs literally won’t stand up to a few hours of dancing. The upshot of all this is that I feel I’m living in half measures: I’m not going out, I’m only going to see my friends for predrinks; I’m not having a full day of rest and exercise, I’m just sitting on my arse waiting for myself to feel better. And being brought back to lazy earth like this after a year of juggling three or four sports at once is a bit of a shock; even though it’s been a week since I finished my exams and so should be relaxing, and realistically wouldn’t be doing anything other than playing FM anyway, I still feel like I’m being unproductive. At least if I were being a lazy tit I’d have the potential to go for a walk or practice my kata, but this week has robbed me of even that potential, which is a very frustrating feeling.

Honestly, I’ve not exercised for four days now; God only knows how most English students can do this all the time.

Cycling Again!

(the amateur, unfit, teenage and drug-free equivalent of Lance Armstrong’s comeback!)

I used to cycle a lot; when I was fifteen I spent all Summer cycling around my local park, and was hitting 30km by myself until a series of almost-accidents involving reckless babies, screaming, entitled parents and my bloody, swerve-wrecked body rather dissuaded me from tearing around such a small area so regularly. And out of laziness and fear, I didn’t want to learn to ride on roads, so I simply stopped riding bikes; until today!

We rode around Killarney today, skirting a huge, Middle Earth-like lake I can’t remember the name of, and coasting down smooth, car-free roads around a castle with an amount of sunlight that one doesn’t really expect from Ireland. And it was bloody good fun.

I buggered my leg about a month ago at handball, and while this kept me clinging to the back of the group of riders like Andy Schleck on any Tour de France summit finish since about 201, but this presented a new challenge – I had a back wheel to aim for, a speed to rise to, but didn’t have to be a dick and pull away from everyone else like I’ve done in the past. Combine this, small-scale, physical motivation, great views and a group of friends who were equally supportive and unnerved when one of us crashed and had to limp home.

The main thing I’ve realised this academic year is that it’s not what one does, but who one does them with; so if an awesome activity is combined with awesome people, it makes a pretty great day (and, obviously, resulting blog post).

Written Tues 31st March

The Window Of Eating

(this sounds like a frakking Wordsworth poem)

I am going to play dodgeball within an hour, and it promises to be one of those ridiculous training sessions that can tear multiple muscles in half an hour and scar your for life into never dismissing dodgeball as ‘not a real sport’ ever again (and considering I can’t walk down stairs without killing my calves after karate on Monday, I might indeed tear multiple muscles this evening).

I’m also going to play without eating; I helpfully got up at three in the afternoon today (a one-off lie-in, I promise) so had breakfast, but haven’t yet felt like having lunch, now four hours later. I also can’t eat so close to playing, because I’ll get indigestion and have to piss around with my pump, which I don’t really want to do in the middle of sport.

This has created the titular ‘window of eating’, where I had a good few hours to eat, but have now got too close to dodgeball, and am confined to being hit in the face with a ball on a slightly emptier stomach than usual.

Truly my life is difficult to the point of intense sympathy.

I Kick Balls. Deal With It!

(have I mentioned my Internet situation recently?)

Here’s a new ad campaign to encourage women to take up sport here in the UK, which tries to get over a problem women seem to have with exercise, that you look like shit while you’re doing it (this isn’t entirely me misunderstanding the situation here – I’ve had female friends give me that exact reason for not doing sport, so I guess it’s like a thing or something?).

And this campaign probably won’t work for everyone: opposers of equality will claim it’s unnecessary, and a lot of feminists will probably criticise it for being too abrasive and blunt (dare I say ‘masculine’, even?) in suggesting that looking like shit isn’t just a consequence, but a necessary part, of being active. But I like it a lot; it’s simple, in-your-face and pretty clever, and reinforces the key point of gender and sport: both men and women have legs to run with, arms to lift weights with, and goals and personal bests to compete with.

Pod Fail!

(that title doesn’t refer to an apocalyptic-style explosion or collapse of one of the pods at the London Eye, which would have been far more dramatic)

I have an insulin pump on my body (that I refer to as the ‘pod’ due to its poddish shape) that releases insulin in small doses throughout the day; insulin moves sugar from my bloodstream to my muscles, keeping my blood nice and unsweetened (a bad thing) and my muscles nice and energetic (a good thing).

However, today the pod came off, while I was playing football in weather best described as ‘eyeball-meltingly hot’ (or at least ‘adhesive backing-meltingly hot’), so I wasn’t receiving insulin; in theory, my blood sugar level shouldn’t have risen, as I was running around so I;d be using up that sugar in my blood anyway, and the theory was correct – I was a healthy 5.7 at the end of the game. However, it’s likely that my muscles weren’t getting the energy they needed to function, which could explain my rather lacklustre performance in the second half, as well as my lack of fitness and general inability to kick a football five years to a target.

And this is all a bit of a mouthful to explain to people who don’t know anything about diabetes, after playing football for two hours, and who are seriously contemplating impaling me with a railing for dropping out of their balanced game to make it four-on-five. Coupled with my heart pain, back strain and cut across a big toenail that I suffered during the game, all of which I will invariably brag about either on this blog, or to my grandchildren that such injuries were sustained in a World Cup final, it was a bit of a rough afternoon.

And now I’m going to have a lie down and play Madden 15, which just arrived today; I’m not ready for such stress yet.