The vexed question of the interseason exercise regime raises its ugly head once more and in an increasingly pressing fashion following the best part of two months spent doing pretty much nothing whatsoever other than wandering out to the boulangerie now and then. Winter season food, wine and snackette habits are all very well when you’re snowboarding for a minimum of two hours a day, frequently in temperatures a polar bear would consider parky, but festering on the futons doesn’t consume nearly as many calories, most of which promptly convert themselves to blubber.
Drastic diminution of food intake has been the order of the day (and is having the desired blubber-banishing effect), but for optimum results is best combined with increased running about. Unfortunately though, a combination of trashed anatomy, poxy weather and lack of indoor facilities is curtailing the options.
Plan A was to get involved with the possibilities offered by the local Via Ferrata, a kind of cross between proper climbing and the sort of rope, cable and zip line constructions offered by the likes of Venosc’s Aventure Parc (open for the summer from June 18th, not that I’m plugging it or anything, honest). Unfortunately such things are better tackled by people who aren’t currently being held together by six screws and a shelf bracket, so that one was off the menu, as was any kind of serious hillwalking, which JC can’t really be bothered with anyway.
I did indulge in a bit of mild local yomping about back in May, but a serious glitch in the weather has rather put paid to that, as while I don’t mind walking about in the cold I’m not really on for getting piss wet through while half way up the side of a mountain 10km and 1000 vertical metres from wherever I’ve left the car.
Normally my second choice for regular exercise (a long way behind snowboarding, obviously) is swimming, but despite heatwave weather in May the pool remained resolutely closed, so the only options there were either Alpe d’Huez or Vaujany, both of which would set us back a fiver each plus petrol, not an attractive option in the lean interseason times.
Which brings me to jogging, a sport with the advantage of being free once you’ve forked out for the necessary footwear, and something you should be able to do immediately on leaving the house. Unfortunately though, that would appear to be its only advantage. You would imagine that any old punter should be able to run about – I mean it’s basically just walking, isn’t it? Only faster, and with your feet off the floor a bit more than usual.
Wrong. One look at most of the jogging public should be enough to put you off even trying the activity. Red in the face, gasping like a landed trout, arms and legs flailing all over the place …….. I’m sure that’s me whenever I try it. How does Usain Bolt make it look so graceful? Or all those twig-like Ethiopians manage to keep it up for hours on end? I’m lucky to get 10 minutes in before collapsing in a heap and having to be stretchered home for tea and buns.
I can only assume I’m not doing it right, though it’s hard to see where you can go wrong with just putting one foot in front of the other. The omniscient interweb isn’t much help either, as the first thing I came across was about.com trying to tell me that in order to be a true runner I need to get over my fear of portable toilets. Now generally I’m quite indifferent to portable toilets, and I can certainly do without about.com’s detailed instructions as to how to have a wee, having mastered that one at about the same time as I learned to walk. Other web offerings seem to be aimed at stringy Ethiopian types already doing four marathons a day and looking for advice regarding shin splints, training schedules which look as though they could adequately prepare you for the Tour de France and inedible-sounding foodstuffs.
Fortunately the pool reopened at the beginning of June, allowing me to go back to my default position of swimming three times a week, and while a howling north wind doesn’t exactly encourage getting wet al fresco at least it keeps most of the anklebiters elsewhere, so I can do the swimming up and down thing without having to dodge inflatable crocodiles and small boys leaping off the sides without looking. But there’s going to be no such luxury in September, so unless someone opens a gym in the meantime I shall have to get the dreaded running shoes out again and give jogging another go.