I’m Laura. I’m 30 years old, from South Wales, and as of earlier this year I live in the Rhymney Valley with my fiancé and our three cats.
I always find introductions awkward, so I’m going to skim over that and invite you to check out my ‘about’ page to find out more about me and about this blog, including why it’s called Maximum Sloth.
This first post is going to focus on how I got into fitness in the first place.
It was 2009, I think. I had spent many years battling with an autoimmune condition. That’s a blog post for another time, perhaps. With a lot of rest, perseverance, Pilates, and a spot of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, I had reached a point where I was holding down a job and beginning to seriously look to the future. I needed a career. I was in my mid-20s and felt as though my life had been held up enough. My friends had degrees, well-established jobs, boyfriends… I needed a focus. The only career I’d ever really wanted seemed a little beyond my reach, but I decided the only way to find out was to try anyway. My health was now pretty good, I had the skills, was building my confidence, there was nothing to say I couldn’t do it. Nothing except the fitness test. I was sure I could pass the strength test, but there was a run.
Just the thought of running brought back memories of PE lessons in secondary school. I was on the chubby side as a teenager. I wasn’t athletic, and I didn’t like the outdoors. I preferred to be inside with a book. I remembered being forced to run around the hockey pitch as a warm-up, and being too knackered after that to even hold the hockey stick, let alone play the game. I remembered the day we were told to run two laps of the athletics field. The cold air hitting the back of my throat, the stitch in my side, and the other kids lapping me as I struggled to make it around. At the end of my first lap, the teacher told me to sit down. Whether she’d taken pity on me or just wanted to save the rest of the class waiting for me to complete another painful lap, I’ll never know.
Those memories didn’t make me want to run. But there was another part of me that wanted to give it a try. I couldn’t be put off – I’d come so far with my recovery and this was something I really wanted.
I remember going to an outlet village and buying the first trainers of my adult life, but I’m disappointed to say that I don’t remember my first run.
I didn’t have a fancy phone, no GPS watch, just my new trainers and my iPod. I suspect my first run didn’t go well. I suspect I didn’t get far from my gate before needing to walk. I don’t remember ever actually making it to the end of the lane (about half a mile) without needing to walk. I do remember the windburn in my throat, the streaming eyes, the frustration with just how crap I was.
At the time, I lived pretty much in the middle of nowhere. My only running route was a one-track country lane, and I constantly had to stop for cars, horses and cyclists. It was no fun, and the waterlogged potholes made it bloomin’ dangerous. So I bought a treadmill and set it up in the shed. That was when I first started to enjoy running.
After work I would get home, have coffee, then change into my workout clothes and head to the shed. It was like a little sanctuary. I’d plug in my headphones, start up the treadmill, and do walk/run intervals, followed by a nice 20-minute session on the Pilates reformer. On days when I didn’t run, I would do strength and bodyweight training. Big Jillian Michaels fan, here.
Memory problems are a side effect of my illness, so I don’t remember very clearly how long this went on for, how far I built up to running in one go, what level of fitness I actually achieved.
I wish I’d kept a training log.
I can tell you that, as a result of my autoimmune condition, I didn’t make it into my career of choice. I don’t know whether I was in denial or I genuinely didn’t realise that it’s something I’m stuck with for the rest of my life. I don’t mind so much now. It fluctuates and I’ve learned to deal with it. When I discovered that I couldn’t realistically follow that path without making myself miserable and ill, I started to think about training as a fitness instructor, or maybe even a personal trainer. I had the knowledge, I loved exercise because it was something that had contributed so positively to my life and to managing my condition. Why not share that love and help other people to improve their lives? Unfortunately, I listened to a lot of feedback from other people and decided that I shouldn’t do it. Too risky. I settled for a sensible office job, but the idea never really left the back of my mind…
In the next post, I’ll be talking about setbacks. We all have them, we hate them, but we move past them.