Uni life is all about making sacrifices. We find ourselves giving things up in order to make ends meet. This month, James Haydon tries life without inactivity.
[hr]University students are a lazy bunch. We bitch and moan about an 11am tutorial (I have to get up at 9am!?), about having to work, (seriously, don’t they understand that this stuff is totally beneath me?), living at home (I can’t even bring a girl back without my parents getting all weird), uni fees, the cost of food and the list goes on. But if there’s one way in which students are particularly lazy, it’s exercise.
Okay, that’s not strictly true. There are two types of students: those that don’t care about fitness at all, and those that care a little too much. The former are a little softer around the edges, while the others talk about the gym constantly, perhaps to their social peril (although they are arguably better to look at).
I wouldn’t say I’m squarely in the unfit camp — I ran Tough Mudder last year — but over Christmas and the New Year I ate often and exercised little, so I decided that the best way to go without laziness was to get myself back into gear. I do go to the gym. Sort of… Sometimes…
Alright, not as frequently as I should, but in January I quickly realised there wasn’t much point in going more often— I’d just slowly go insane.
Instead, I looked elsewhere for exercise. My friend and I had (drunkenly) decided on New Year’s Eve to go rock climbing, but accidentally booked a bouldering gym instead. If you want to quickly learn how fit you are, I can’t recommend a better sport than bouldering. Once you get past explaining what it is — like rock climbing but you don’t have a harness (no, you don’t die if you fall; you do it above squishy foam mats, yes, it’s still about five metres off the ground so don’t TRY and fall) — you realise that it requires endurance, flexibility and grip strength in spades. It’s not the best if you’re self conscious though: try watching people swing themselves up impossible climbs with almost no effort, while you struggle to pull up your own body weight.
But after three weeks, I was actually able to climb to an acceptable beginners standard, and had entered our club’s competition, where I was coming dead last.
While this was going on, I’d also been challenged to walk or run 180km by the end of March. That was 18 days away, which meant I had to average 10km per day. After a few days, my legs were stiff, my achilles and soleus were starting to cause issues and I spent most of the runs with my heart pounding in my throat.
The advantage of all this exercise was that I could eat properly and not have to worry about putting on weight. Which compared to my horrific no-carbs experience from Issue 1, was absolute bliss. There are few things better in this world than tucking into a massive meal when you’re so exhausted you can’t lift your arms and your hands are so blistered from climbing that it hurts to use chopsticks. Pro tip: the cool metal of your cop-out spoon provides a welcome relief.