On running and wine

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A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with my twin sister, Anne. I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but the conversation came on to the subject of being healthy at our advanced age.

‘Well, at least I’m not fat,’ I said.

There was a pause. Quite a long pause. This wasn’t good.

‘But you have a belly,’ she responded eventually. I was gutted. It was true!

You see, these things don’t just happen. You don’t go to bed one night and wake up in the morning with a fat belly. You get fat in increments so small that you hardly notice it. And you deny it whenever you see yourself in the mirror. I lost quite a bit of weight a few years back, dropped down a waist size, and have hovered around the same weight since, until fairly recently, it seems.

Travel has done it. When you travel in my job you eat more and exercise less. Also: I love food. I love wine. I hate the thought of dieting. So exercise is important. I ran the Marathon du Medoc in 2013 and 2014. But since then, without the focus of training for a long run, I have been exercising less. So the dreadful realisation of my belly has prompted me to decided that I need to get back to running properly. Maybe I need to do another long run?

Back in 2013, I really loved the whole experience of taking up running, with a goal in mind. And although I have done sporadic runs of late, I’ve not been running long enough distances. So it’s like starting again. At first it seems too hard: the body isn’t used to being punished this way. But it gets better. The big difference about coming back to running is that I know I can do long distances. And running is very psychological. It’s about deciding to keep going even if it would be far nicer to walk.

Even when I was running marathons, though, I was a little lazy. I ran the second marathon a bit overweight and a bit under-trained. I took it really easy. I would love to get to the stage where I’m running at a good pace, like my buddy Greg Sherwood. We’ve run together quite a bit, but he’s just that much faster than me. It probably helps that he runs most days, something I’ve not been able to commit to.

It made a big difference to me to run the first marathon. It showed me that I could be self-disciplined enough to train, and brave and strong enough to get round the 42 km course only 14 weeks after starting running. It showed me I had the potential to do better than I’d have imagined at something I’d always believed myself to be poor at (at school, I used to loath cross country runs, and would be one of the stragglers at the back of the pack).

In my job, at my age, it takes quite a lot of discipline not to become fat. I guess it’s biology. I’m grateful, though, to my sister for her honesty. Having a belly is a big risk factor for blokes my age, and I have lots of plans, there’s lot’s to see and explore, and I want to be around for a while. So I shall be running regularly.

If you are thinking about running, I’d recommend either downloading a running app to your phone (I use Runkeeper, and a shift to the iPhone SE which is smaller has helped make strapping the phone to my arm easier), or buying a GPS running watch (I had a Garmin that was pretty good). Keeping track of your distance and pace is a good motivator.

And if you see me packing on the pounds, help me out of my denial by pointing it out. But do it gently, please.

 

 

 

5 comments to On running and wine

  • Keith Prothero

    Have exercised all my life as you know Jamie. Suspect I drink even more than you so the only way to stay healthy is to exercise and drink plenty of water with your wine. Cutting out junk food may help too 🙂
    If you want a running partner and prepared to stay on grass then I am your man. 25 years older than you with a new hip and prostate cancer . But the latter is in early stages at not really a problem especially if you have the right attitude to it and ………….. Keep exercising.

  • Gabor Lovei

    Hello Jamie
    Well, I admire the guts that you need to write about this. Hats off, mate. I wondered how can you manage all that travel, lunches & dinners & wine, and every now and then even some good runs in some exotic vineyard.
    As Keith, who commented earlier (hello to him, too – Keith, check this out: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/327/327ra24.short)
    , I am older than you, have run a few marathons myself, and khm… well… yes, I also have a belly. And I also try to get back into running more seriously. In my case, alas, this inevitably means cutting back on wine – it definitely slows me down, and makes the run less fun if I had a glass the evening before.
    I wish you well and just wanted to let you know that your post gave me food for thought. See you at the next Copenhagen marathon… that is quite a friendly race, actually 🙂
    Best
    Gabor

  • fatFred

    Jamie ecrit
    ‘…at our advanced age.’
    Hmmmm, judging by the photograph at the top of your blog you are only about 30, what’s ‘advanced’ about that?
    Prothero ecrit
    ‘…… prostate cancer……. Keep exercising’
    Or, as a doctor remarked to me many years ago, ‘keep ejaculating!’

  • Keith Prothero

    Thanks for your note and link Gabor. Fortunately,I have detected my prostate cancer early,and hence I am fairly relaxed about the situation,especially when one bears in mind that many men of my age,have cancer in the gland and do not know it. No way would I ever have chemo to “correct” the problem. Far better to operate.
    one thing though is for sure—-I will never stop drinking fine wine and,of course, exercising 🙂

  • Brash Higgins

    So true, been training recently for the Amsterdam marathon in October. Been brutal, but getting better. And nothing finer than settling into a deep sofa with a book afterwards. And maybe a cold beer. BH

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