Sigh…the athletics World Championships have come to an end. Despite, over time, having become the ultimate cynic about performance enhacing drugs (for the avoidance of doubt, I believe every athlete is taking some form of performance enhancing drug; it’s just a question of who has the best dealer!), I still enjoy watching world class athletes do their thing. I am the one elbowing the kids from the front row view to watch perfectly formed, trained, athletic phenomena attempt to achieve gold.
For as long as I can remember I have been mesmerised by athletics on TV. I remember crawling out of my teenage bed to watch one of the most hyped 100m men’s finals at the Seoul Olympics 1988. I admit it: I rooted for Johnson. Turns out both numbers 1 and 2 were using performance enhancing drugs.
Having recently arrived back from the sunny Emerald isle where everyone walks everywhere, I have to say, I am missing the walking. If you need milk and a loaf of bread, you don’t look for the keys to your 4×4; you walk to and from the shop carrying the goods. If you want to go to the beach, you walk the 15 minutes it takes to get there. Public transport means just that! Not a taxi service which offers a door to door service, but a service to which you walk and board for a distance you can’t walk quickly enough.
But back to my point. I miss walking.
For my fair skin and, as far as I am concerned, overactive sweat glands, it is still too sticky to risk an evening walk in Dubai. Sure, the temperatures have dropped by a few degrees but anything above 30 celsius scares me. As a result, my only option is the treadmill which has been feeling rather lonely and neglected as I worked out to DVDs over the summer.
Jumping on my treadmill again this week was interesting. Re-acquainting myself with my treadmill, I was bombarded with a a lot of fancy flashing lights and numbers which keep me informed, by the second, about how many calories have been burned, how fast I am walking/plodding, distance covered and even heart rate. Granted my treadmill is a few years old at this stage. I am sure the latest treadmills of today recycle your sweat into an organic, isotonic drink served at chilled temperatures, massage your increasingly tiring and aching limbs, all the while mopping your brow. However, I am happy enough with my treadmill that seems very determined to highlight, in bright neon lights, my fitness inadequacies.
My ‘personal trainer’, the green light, blitzed and hopped around the virtual track at what seemed like an impressive speed. I was impressed. Taking a closer look, I recalled the track replicated a real track (guess you can tell it’s been a while!). 400m/quarter mile per lap. Each 100m is broken down to about 10 flashy light points. OMG those damned flashy lights crawled by. Now, I am not expecting to be even close to world record breaking times over 100m, but I did not expect to be soooo sloooowwww.
When I realised just how slowly I was ‘speedwalking’ 100m, I nearly fell off the monotonous black belt which was assisting my forward propulsion (’tis true…. exercise may not always be good for you!) Here I am, trying to put in a session of much needed cardio knowing Usain Bolt could still outrun me if he were blindfolded, hopping backwards whilst carrying (and not dropping) a tray of crystal glasses in either hand.
To think the 100m record is now under 10 seconds. That’s less than one second for every 10 metres. To be able to run that fast seems superhuman. It just seems impossible that a human could cover that much ground in that blink of an eye. What training and dedication must it take to achieve that? Performance enhancing drugs aside….the athletes still have to follow their nutrition and exercise programmes to the letter, and that requires monumental commitment as well as a physical and mental strength which only a few possess.
I shouldn’t be too worried about what the green flashing light is telling me when I am speedwalking/jogging/plodding on my treadmill. An Olympian I will never be. As long as I can exercise without incurring too many aches or pains, I will be happy with my pace, whatever that may be.