26 Apr / Treadmill of Death
For the last few months, I’ve been writing like a demon as part of the Phoenix Prime group to put together a body of work to pummel PhD students into submission with. In many ways this is working, in sheer volume if not in sales volume, but it’s meant that for a very long time my arse has been in contact with my couch.
Back when I had a day job (oh, regular paycheque, I miss you so) I may not have been the fittest member of the office but I did have to walk farther to my work than five metres down the hall. During the day, the copious volume of things I printed didn’t collect themselves off the printer. No. Sometimes I had to yell at a colleague to go and fetch them and other times I’d get up off my chair and walk.
Lunch was a flight of stairs away, as were any Coke refills. Coffee was kept in the kitchenette and on occasion I’d even sacrifice my comfort to the exercise gods and walk all the way home.
During a standard day, I could expect to take anywhere between 3000 to 13000 steps. Leaning toward the former but I’m sure if I dug deep into my Samsung Gear Fit 2’s memory there’d be a few days of excess here and there.
Now, having a shower is the most exercise I get, apart from Thursday, when I wheel bins down to the gate, and Fridays, when I wheel them back again. Even hanging the washing out doesn’t take long and the extra ten metres out to the washing line probably isn’t going to strip any creamy yellow fat off the layers gathering around my heart.
Last night, as I was falling asleep in bed, I suddenly made a resolution. No more! I was going to get fit. I was going to *gasp* USE THE TREADMILL.
Before you start worrying that I’ve lost my mind, I’d like to reassure you that in no way did I intend to become a gym bunny. Not even a home gym bunny. I was, however, going to science myself into a slightly better state of wellbeing than I’ve so far enjoyed this year.
My memory ruthlessly cuts anything that it considers extraneous information these days. Things like current events, the times of my next meeting, or the names of friends and relatives. Snip. Gone.
It does still have a vested instinct for self-preservation, though, so it helpfully retained a vague outline of an exercise plan put forth by Michael Mosley in which a person only needs to exercise for three minutes or so a week to improve their health profile.
I have three minutes. I am the perfect subject.
I dusted off my treadmill, after also removing the various books, items of clothing, and aluminium bars (???) that had found their way on top of it. Once revealed, it looked in pretty good nick. Possibly because I take good care of my things. More probably because I’ve hardly ever turned it on.
Although it gave a little bit of a groan to start with, it soon got back into the routine. The routine consists of me standing on it, frowning at the instructions and pushing randomly at buttons until something starts to move.
Now, this three minutes of exercise per week isn’t just a random, freestyle, do it until it hurts type of deal. It’s science, people. I had to time things. And set things up. After a warmup of just a minute, I had to put my treadmill on the steepest incline and crank it up to the highest speed.
In theory, 20 seconds x 3 sessions = 1 minute. Perform that activity three times a week and you’re golden for only three minutes of lost time. In practice there’s more to it. The fine print, if you will. I had to warm up for 60 seconds, wait for another 5 for my treadmill to actually incline and speed up and then…
The first 20 second session was all a bit of a blur. For a start, time ceases to mean anything when you’re exercising. Like the TARDIS, it’s longer on the inside. I guess I made it through and out the other side, though. Certainly, the room came back into focus and I remembered how to breathe.
In the second session, I had no trouble remembering to breathe. Gasping for breath actually seemed to occupy me even more than the moving of my legs. I possibly should have called a halt to the whole endeavour then, but I’m not a quitter.
Well, I’m not a quitter ANYMORE, I should say.
Last time for the ramp up and I struggled through the next twenty seconds like I’d struggled through the last six months of high school. Desperate, unhappy, and grateful that it wouldn’t need to be repeated.
It’s hard to explain the satisfaction that comes after a good, thorough, one minute exercise session. It’s especially hard when you’re choking for breath in between coughing bouts and swallowing tall glasses of cold water to quench the fire burning in your lungs.
The good news is that, twelve hours later, I’ve mostly stopped coughing. The bad news? My second run through the torture chamber is only 36 hours away.
If nobody hears from me, please tell my darling to check for my corpse in the front room.