Active 2014

The marathon is done and now there is no going back

I AM a new man.

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The marathon in Belfast has been transformational. Months of regular road running, building up mileage laid the foundation for change.

The pounds have gone down as the distances have gone up.

And with a target of 26 miles, there were no short cuts. I was only just ready for the race, and my time of nearly six hours was testament to that.

But it was enough. Enough for the 26 miles, and enough for the next phase.

As I told you last week, my Active 2014 column is staying on these pages. I will continue to give you my thoughts, hopes and experiences in maximising my - and your - health and fitness.

If a fat 55-year-old can get his backside into gear, then many of you can. So how will I go about this work?

It won't be by pontificating. One thing that being a solicitor teaches you is that everyone is different. One person's strengths are another's obstacles and life goals must be tailored to the individual's needs and abilities.

Some benefit from gentle suggestion, others from plain speaking, a few from a barked order. So I will suggest, report, analyse and, occasionally, do some frank speaking.

The main tool has to be honesty.

After years of kidding myself that I would start losing weight next week or pretending that this roll and sausage wouldn't add weight, I eventually came to two conclusions.

One was that being overweight is not a life sentence, and the other was that if I was to escape, then I needed to be slim enough to squeeze between the bars of my self-imposed prison.

I began in a haphazard way.

Today, I told myself, I will not eat anything more than my meals. Day 1 worked. On Day 2, I made the same promise, but a biscuit sneaked in with my coffee. Day 3, packet of crisps.

And I fooled myself that I was making progress.

This was not honesty.

Even after I made my commitment to run a marathon, it took two months to get into a proper training regime, until which I would run short distances half-heartedly.

But from January, the process kicked into gear. I counted the weeks until Belfast (I had booked my place in November so I was committed), and created a training schedule that HAD to be followed.

There is advice that if you are giving up smoking, you need to tell everyone, so that they know, and you know they know, that if you light up you are failing, thus the pressure on you to succeed in front of others suppresses your decision to smoke. This is applicable to losing weight.

On top of that, creating the justgiving page for charitable donation had a salutary effect of boosting the exposure.

While it was my privilege to collect donation for St Margaret's Hospice, I plead a degree of selfishness in using this commitment as a support in making me become, like my namesake Steve Austin the Six Million Dollar Man, better, stronger, fitter - and in my case thinner. My Evening Times readership played a part.

But the race is done. Will Austin go back to a big tummy and sitting back with a glass of wine?

Delightedly, NO.

I was already booked into the Men's 10K in Glasgow on June 15, but now scour websites for half-marathons and other races.I will try for a place in the London Marathon 2015.

The new man is here to stay. Or at least he'll be back after a run.

Sport

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Tips to help you keep active from the Glasgow Club

  • Be realistic about what you want to achieve
  • Build up the intensity and frequency of your activity sessions gradually
  • Find an activity which you enjoy
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Use the stairs as often as possible
  • Make active choices as part of your daily routine
  • Get out at Lunchtime! Why not go to the shops or park at lunchtime instead of staying at work? The walk will also make you feel more awake in the afternoon