Anyone that knows me well will know that I have an extremely addictive personality: from Football Manager to Facebook to blogging itself, I rely on my addictions for stability and routine and most of the time my addictions serve a purpose and reap a reward or reach a target. However, my latest addiction is one that I thought I’d never take up and one that, because of that very reason, I have always mocked. I’ve started jogging; more appropriately, running.
Although today I achieved one target that I set myself many years ago – getting full football colours at school – I had already started planning and preparing for my next target, last night. In picking the universities I was going to apply to and then picking the one that I wanted to accept an offer from, the sports teams and the quality of them were never factored into my decision.
In fact, very little was factored into my decision for where to apply at all: in picking the five universities to apply to, the only thing I was looking at was their position in the subject tables for my chosen subject – Sport Science – I didn’t even attend an open day; not one. Then, in choosing the University of Birmingham as my sole choice, the decision was based on the subject specific open day in February and that alone. I still hadn’t looked at their sports teams and how they fared.
So, last night when I was reading up on Birmingham’s sports teams, in particular the only sport I play – football, the sentence “The 1st team plays in the highest league possible, the BUCS Northern Premier where we finished second last year,” filled me with as much excitement as it did dread. The following line didn’t ease either emotion: “We currently have two coaches who both have very strong links with Birmingham City FC Academy, so the level of football is very high.”
I’m a reasonable lad. I drink alcohol and expect to feel terrible in the morning. I insult someone and expect to fall out with them. I sleep with Rihanna and expect guys to be jealous. So, when I read that Birmingham’s first team are in the top flight, I expect not to get in. However, according to my best friend, “winners don’t always win, they just don’t give up.” That will be the motto I adhere to in my pursuit of achieving my next target – getting into Birmingham’s first team.
Now, like with every target I set, I set up an addiction to fuel, to drive me to my destination. I’ve taken up running. To be precise, I have taken up running five miles a day and have paired that aerobic workout with some muscular endurance work – 300 sit-ups and 80 press-ups a day. For me, what is lacking from my game is fitness, endurance and core strength. My hope is that my addiction addresses my problem in order to achieve my goal – getting into Birmingham’s first team.
The first thing I had to do was pick a route. The route needed three things: reasonably safe running environments, fairly pleasant scenery and a length of five miles. That last feature was pretty essential.
From where I live, an area similar to war-torn Sarajevo, in Sholing, I head out on to the main road and follow it all the way to Woolston. Making it this far alive is an achievement alone. This is where the iconic Itchen Bridge stands proudly as a platform for all suicidal persons of Southampton to plunge from. Here, I bear left away from said attraction, run the stretch of road alongside Weston Shore, which sounds like a beach but is in fact a pebble dashed roadside with the only view consisting of rather large liners and a polluting power station, and turn off of Weston Parade at the Pitch & Putt. I am then on my final, uphill, stretch: having headed through Weston, past Chamberlayne Leisure Centre, which has never supplied me with a leisurely experience, I am back on the main road I start on and finally, and rather sweat-drenched, I arrive back to my house.
Yet, as appetising as my chosen course sounds, I was never going to be able to drag myself through it at a respectable speed without a motivating and lyrically powerful playlist to bob my head to and even mutter the words of, despite the fact I spent much of my run struggling for breath to fuel my aching muscles, let alone rap with.
I recommend my playlist to anyone and everyone as I am, obviously, a fully qualified music critic by virtue of writing about music. My first song is Magic by B.O.B ft. Rivers Cuomo, and, like all my tracks, it has been picked for its lyrics: “I’ve got the magic in me.” Next up is Lose Yourself by Eminem and this 21st century anthem wasn’t chosen to encourage me to purposely run off track and lose myself, no no. It was picked for the line, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” (My full playlist is listed below.)
As well prepared as I was starting the run, I wasn’t expecting my calves to tighten up two songs into what ended up being a nine-and-a-half song run. By the time I hit Woolston my lower legs were officially representing concrete blocks in the manner of not being able to lift them without considerable effort and the fact that my legs were now rock solid – most likely saturated with lactic acid. I was determined to finish the run, though, and not even the pins and needles in my left foot could stop me.
In apology to any runner I have previously seen dawdling along and have run past in a mocking “look how fast I am and I’m not even in training” way, I can admit it isn’t as easy as it looks and I am truly sorry. In six months normal service will resume, however, and I will continue to take the mickey out of joggers, as by then I will basically be the white Mo Farah – as well as Birmingham’s answer to Ryan Giggs.
Unlike the emotions I felt when reading about how bloody marvellous Birmingham’s football teams are, I was much happier to read that my chosen drink on return, a pint of milk, actually turns out to be the best post workout beverage. Not only does it assist the burning of fat, but it helps the building of muscle.
According to a study at McMaster University, Canada, drinking milk sees athletes lose almost twice as much fat (2 pounds) as those that drink carbohydrate beverages (1 pound). Furthermore, those who drink milk post workout gain 40% more muscle (2.5 pounds) than soy drinkers and 63% more muscle (3.3 pounds) than carbohydrate drinkers.
In total, my workout took one hour: but most importantly, my five mile run took 37 minutes and 54 seconds. My aim is to run five miles in under 30 minutes and I have six months to achieve that target amidst exams, blogging and the biggest summer holiday of my life.
Thanks for reading,
New Playlist 1
- Magic – B.O.B ft Rivers Cuomo
- Lose Yourself – Eminem
- Kickstarts – Example
- Stronger – Kanye West
- Invaders Must Die – The Prodigy
- Pass Out – Tinie Tempah
- The World’s Greatest – R.Kelly
- Monster – Professor Green ft. Example
- Can’t Get Enough – J.Cole
- Fix Up Look Sharp – Dizzee Rascal
- Get Better – Dan le Sac & Scroobius Pip