July Jogging helps me make the most of summer nights

Summer is with us, no matter the odd meteorogical glitch and downpour.

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And there is no better time to give fitness and health a boost. The hours of daylight are long, the temperature is warmish to hot, and there are oodles of opportunities to get out and get active.

As ever, I am getting in on the act. I have a project this month. It's not a grand event or a public spectacle, but a personal mission. I call it July Jogging. Catchy title, but a very simple idea. During the month of July, I run every day. Long runs, short runs, on road and treadmill, early morning or mid-evening, the intention is to keep up a momentum in the lead-up to my summer holiday.

Clearly this is different from my usual routine of mixing up swimming, karate and a couple of substantial runs per week, it is in some ways a more relentless regime. I have found that leg muscles and ligaments, especially around the calves and ankles, are under more strain as I don't have recovery days, but the distances run are mainly much shorter than before, doing as little as two miles at a time. Indeed on one evening early on I only did a mile and a bit, for the reason that I was running without shoes.

This was not your long-distance lawyer going to the extremes of marathon mania - remember I reported from Belfast that I was passed at six miles by two chaps doing the race in their actual bare feet - but simply forgetfulness on my part. I had left my trainers in the porch at home to pick up on the way out to the car. Walked right past them. Completely missed them. So only when I rocked up to the sports club, I realised that I was shoeless.

It is frowned upon in gyms for members to run with naked tootsies. That's understandable I guess for health and safety reasons, and in particular so that smelly feet don't come into contact with surfaces that might allow germs to be spread. But given that all gym equipment is routinely and continually sweated over, it would seem no worse to pound the belt with piggies on show. So what I did was to put clean sports socks on and sneak into the treadmill area.

Actually it was a minor revelation. Although I started gingerly in case I was in danger of slipping in the socks, that turned out not to be a problem, and I realised why there is a growing number of athletes who like to go naked, as it were. I felt more in tune with the rest of my body in the balance and rhythm of running, and was able to effect a smooth action. That said, this was both an experiment and a patch-up job in order to fulfil my month's mission, so after a mile or so I paused. Interesting diversion but a one-off.

Now I keep the shoes in the car - both pairs in fact. So there have been no dramas since. Although I call the project July Jogging, I have not actually run every day. If I do karate, then that's a full workout, so the day's obligation is fulfilled. If I cycle, as I am now doing again on dry days, then that counts as long as the outing is a long enough one. And a session on the cross-trainer is the equivalent of a jog if I need to protect or rest my ankles.

The point really is for proper exercise every day. I know that I could not sustain a daily repetition for ever, as I am both too busy in the day job, and also it would not be sensible for my joints.

Fitness, like, like everything else in life, should be a matter of balance. Hell for leather is fine in short bursts, but fitness for life is both literally in my case, and metaphorically for all, a marathon rather than a sprint.

Speaking of marathons, I have two irons in the fire for London 2015. It would be wonderful to participate in that giant festival, and a great spur to training. I am booking into the Edinburgh marathon anyway, so if I am successful in getting into London, it will be the first year I will have attempted two such races. Meantime, on looking at the calendar, I see the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow is only three months away. Once holidays are out of the way I will get a routine very different from July Jogging.

This is a month in which there is a feeling of summer relaxation. Along with many others I still have to work through most of it, but we are in a perfect period for finding new ways to stretch limbs and plunge out into the fresh air. Check through the other pages of this newspaper today and you will certainly find ideas for physical, sporting or just healthy activity. Start now, and just watch yourself get healthier and happier.

Sport

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