Fitness (Vanity)

Walking is something we used to do a lot as a family when I was a kid, and while I never did much after leaving home and throwing myself into London life, I think my childhood experiences were always at the back of my mind. As I’ve grown older, the urge to get out of the city and explore the mountains has grown and grown, and finally last year I made more of an effort to do so, with trips to Snowdonia, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District all helping to really awaken a long-dormant passion.

As a result, the part of my trip I’m probably looking forward to most is spending August & September trekking in the high central Andes of Peru & Bolivia. Now while I’ve enjoyed my time hiking the UK’s hills, and had no problems with them whatsoever, there’s quite a difference between the 1,085 metres of Snowdon, the highest peak I’ve visited over here, and the Punto Coyoc pass on the Huayhuash Circuit in Peru, which at 5,490m is more than five times as high. So I figured I should probably make a bit of an effort to get as fit as I possibly could before leaving if I want to make life a little bit easier for myself.

So since November I’ve made the effort to get into the routine of exercising three times a week, at my local boot camp. Now to most people I know, the idea of spending cold winter nights outside in the park, running around and doing press-ups in the mud and the rain (and even the snow on one occasion) while being barked at by ex-squaddies sounds both insane and painful. They’re probably right, and yet it’s actually great fun, and is the most sociable way of making fit I’ve ever engaged in. Plus (and this is the real reason I enjoy it) it really appeals to my competitive streak, as I push myself harder and harder to be the fastest in the class, and progress to the advanced group.

The upshot of all this hard work is that I’ve been feeling fitter than I have in years – and both to test that out and to give me an interim goal to work towards, I entered myself into a 10k run this past weekend, my first for a few years. Now I knew the training had been going well, and I expected to beat my previous best time of just shy of 50 minutes. What I didn’t expect was to beat that by more than five minutes, with a time of 44:57. I even enjoyed it (what’s happening to me in my old age? 18 year old me would have been horrified…), and now I’m seriously considering trying out a marathon when I get back from my trip. I’m feeling a lot more confident about the summer’s coming activities (although of course, now I’ve done the run, I’ll slip into a final month of farewell drinking, followed by doing very little exercise during the first few months of the trip, and undoing all the good work).

Of course I’d be lying if I said all this exercise was purely to get me fit for the mountains. A happy side effect is that the beer belly I’d been beginning to develop has fallen away, and I’m now back to the weight I was in my early twenties, which will certainly help me look better on the beach. (and in other vanity-related news, I’ll be more keen than previously to produce a cheesy grin for the cameras, now that today I’ve finally had the veneer fitted to replace the filling that’s been patching up my broken front tooth for around fifteen years now, and which has never looked quite right. I’m very pleased with it, although I’ll be glad when the anaesthetic wears off and I can feel my face again.)


12 responses to “Fitness (Vanity)

  1. Can one go along just to be barked at by the ex-squaddies?

    Good for you, though. I seriously need to take a leaf out of your book.

  2. Sadly not, you have to go through the pain for that. It’s all worth it though!

  3. Way to go Geoff – that’s a fabulous 10K time! I do a bootcamp fitnes program too and am also hoping that it helps me hike that Inca Trail!! Although I certainly hear you about all the farewell beers too!

  4. I have photographic evidence of the burger years if you ever need an incentive to keep fit! well done you, I’m really proud of you! I hope to emulate your success once my shoulder is sorted out!

    well done you!

  5. Dad is most impressed & proud , as am I. Looking forward to seeing the new cheesy grin & ‘honed’ you ( before the last week of beer & indolence). Would you prefer to opt for healthy eating instead of pigging out on home cooking?

  6. BMF is evil.. and if anyone chooses to start doing it, i would suggest starting in the ‘blues’.
    Nevertheless, it does have its benefits.

  7. Thanks mum! I think for my final trip home before I go I can manage a spot of pigging out, I’ve been healthy enough this year after all

  8. Hello! Love your blog!

    Also, it sounds like you’re actually in shape before starting your trip (unlike, say… me) which would put you in a better position if you actually do decide to do part of it by bike – which I highly recommend!! If I can do it… anyone can. It’s actually been, by far, the favorite thing I’ve experienced all trip and has me considering extending by another year – clearly the sun has got into my brain and turned me crazy!

    As for Laos, I really like it, but it kind of has a “should have been here five years ago” feel to me. I’m glad I’m going about it in an unconventional manner, because otherwise I think the swarms of barely-twenty backpackers would drive me mad. Instead, I get to spend every other day in falang-free villages, which does something for the sense of adventure. Really nice people and kids though – I love how everyone waves at you!

    Good luck in the final preparation! Packing your bag the first time is so much fun. :)

  9. sounds like you are really getting ready for the big trip…good luck!!

  10. ☆☆ Martinha ☆☆

    Nice blog..
    ☆ Martinha ☆

  11. All set ?? A really big trip ahead. :-)

  12. Vanity is my favorite sin….

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