Even though I run half-marathons (and am basically always training for the next one – Birmingham in July! Seattle in November!) – I am not in excellent shape. Being a grad student lends itself nicely to a lot of sitting – sitting in bars, sitting in cafes, sitting in study groups – and with all that sitting, at least in my case, comes a lot of eating. And so to combat that effects of mindlessly munching while trying to nail down the nuances of Kant’s Formula of Humanity, I have started attending once-weekly boot camp.
That’s right. On Tuesday mornings I do my regular training run (between three and five miles depending on the week), and then at six thirty in the evening I head over to nearby park and get my ass handed to me by a member of the British Army. It’s really hard and really fun. The guys who run it break us into groups by fitness level (I’m a red, if I were in better shape I’d be a yellow, and if I were Paula Radcliff I’d be a green) and push us. There is a lot of running, a lot of squatting, loads of push-ups (my goal is be doing them without my knees on the ground by July), and tons of sit ups. My first week we ended class carrying each other, literally, while running. This week it was raining the entire time, so each time I laid down to do sit ups, my back got muddy. When I had to put my knees down for the dozens of push-ups, they got soaked. It was AWESOME.
The instructors are really nice, and joke around with us, but they push us and punish us as warranted. Last week, someone didn’t close up their water tightly, so it drenched the instructor’s bag. 10 extra sit ups for us. This week someone (twice) was standing around instead of jogging in place (we have to ALWAYS be jogging in place if we aren’t running or doing exercises), and we had to do push-ups. But if someone is struggling, everyone cheers them on, and the instructors adjust if a person is being pushed too far outside of what they can do at the moment. Last week I was a bit light headed after one exercise, so he had me stop for a bit and get right. It’s the perfect balance, for me, of motivation and understanding.
I’d love to go twice a week, but the Thursday class is too close to my long training runs to risk being super sore. However, after the Birmingham half I might take the running down a notch and bump up the boot camp because it is fantastic.