Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The evils of a gym membership

So motivated was I by my one hour at the gym that the next day I decided I needed to get the actually membership sorted and decided to sign up for 6 months, while I was enthused and there was an offer on to encourage me. Then I promptly went down with a cold and found myself unable to exercise for nearly a week after. As I said...evil things these gyms.

So what to do having actually paid for the rest of June in membership and a regular DD ready to be taken from my account, I found that having signed up it was 12th July before I decided I really, REALLY needed to make use of that money spent, and besides I needed to collect my membership card.
Zumba class cancelled that evening, (my exercise for that day), so with no other place to be I had no excuses not to go, have to find an excuse somewhere. Can't find one, Oh bummer.

Collect membership card at desk...could go straight home again...but no..., stay for an hour on various bits and pieces then foolishly decide that the needs have to get the better of me, so sign up for a proper programme setting session. A Kickstart....is that a good name for it, we shall see.

3.30pm on a Friday afternoon, is that a good time for torture?

Headed to the gym, checked in then an evil trainer called Josh sat me down and went through some exercise/health questions with me to determine what torture he could devise. I tried to get him to make my weight lighter than it was, but the machine wasn't having any of that, so documented for future reference in its entirety along with the body fat and starting measurements. Hoping no-one ever breaks in and steals it eh? But a starting point to work from and of course can only get better.

"What would you like to achieve?" was the question....well "London marathon coming up so need to get fit for it, might like to start on endurance first and the weight loss will hopefully follow" "OK" says Josh "I think we'll go for some metabolism boosting weight loss stuff first then" hmmmm maybe it is a personal trainer trait thinking they know best what you need (or maybe they just do know best!!!) anyway the list seemed to go on and on and I asked whether it required me to be at the gym from 9am to dusk at which point I was duly informed that this should take around 60-75 minutes. (I guess that's not allowing for breathing or serious lack of motivation or even for avoidance of pain - hang on I am motivated, strike that bit, it is the inevitable pain I wish to avoid)

OK let's go and try some things out.....Oooooh fun time. Rower for warm up then some intervals....Yep can deal with that. Lunges and squats....Oh dear, let's just have a go and see we won't do the full amount of sets....good, then step ups....HOW HIGH??? um...this is going to hurt, we'll work this on one leg then the other, we'll just do the one for now...WHAT I shall be lopsided when I walk out of here and what's with the WE stuff? From here I think Cross trainer....intervals then some static machines (which we talked about but didn't actually do).....then back to the mats for some nice core stuff....Oh boy this is going to hurt lots. And to finish off a bike cool down for 5 mins. Then if I want to I can use the foam rollers to ease out the muscles. Hamstrings, ITB Quads and Calves. Hey what fun. Oh and nothing was mentioned about stretching, but as it is on the card I suspect that will need doing too.

So an hour later, I had talked through my programme, unsuccessfully managed to get him to work on things other than pain and weight loss stuff, with a projected review in 6 weeks time. Thank you very much and good night. Downside now is I only did less than half the programme designed for me and I am shuffling round like my quads and gluts are on fire today. I am seriously going to have to time my gym visits for days when I do not wish to run within 48 hours after.

The gym is just too evil to contemplate.....but.....needs must with the marathon challenge looming large. Hey ho bite the bullet and plan some more torture. I will let you know once it starts to improve (or not as the case may be)

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Perils of Motivation

Right then no excuses any more, I have 10 months to get fit, lose some weight, remain uninjured and complete hours and miles of training, just so I can put myself through the torture of 26.2 miles on a Sunday morning in April with around 38000 others. Hmmmm remind me why this was a good idea again?

So what next?

My ladies group I take out on a Thursday morning all decided to run in the local carnival race on the Wednesday evening. "I think we may not run in the morning" they all decided. Nothing to stop me though, on my own, from going out and running eh? Well nothing except the heavens opening and rain deluging at a vast rate of raindrops. Hmmmm not venturing out in that......

So a pang of conscience and I took all the nice coats and jackets off my clothes horse, I mean cross trainer, dusted it off and jumped on for a 10 minute warm up. Blimey it still works!!! 10 minutes quite enough as the back started to tighten, so right, onto something else. I know, I have some old step videos from my aerobics days I'll put one of those on. Reebok step taken out of box and dusted off, video started. I knew how to do all this once, and of course it is an instructor video so moves at ten times the pace you would teach in a class. Lost the routine by the middle of the 2nd section (there were only 3) so once the whole thing was put together I followed the first and made up the rest, vowing to "teach the woman a lesson and learn the whole thing over the next few weeks to keep her on her toes". A dance DVD came out next, but after 5 mins (of a 10 minute piece) I was bored...not really what I needed. So decided I was now feeling incredibly virtuous and put everything away, restoring my coats to their rightful place.

Weather eased and everyone helpfully suggested I could now go for my run........what? Massage called anyway...excuses excuses.

Arriving home later there was a message from a fellow runner who suggested I might like to join her for a slow, gentle 5k run now that the sun was out in the evening. Choice now eh? I could ignore it and pretend I haven't seen the message or I could just get out there and do it. Something about this motivation lark isn't there, as I had arranged to meet and was out the door before you could say..Neighbours and Home and Away are on!!!

Friday morning loomed and a 3 day "free" trial at a local gym was registered for. Need to put some effort in now to get myself to full fitness ready for my impending doom, I mean challenge, and to be fair I need bullying really. So toddle off to said gym with all my gear in a nice bag. Going to make the most of the FREE!!!

Thwarted, however, by lockers that need padlocks and none available, so full day of gym, swim (well dunk and drown) and sauna was scuppered by not being able to leave stuff somewhere handy. Note to self...purchase large padlock in readiness for membership (Oh dear I am thinking of signing up already - that's worrying)

A quick tour of the facilities, and head to the gym equipment. I remember now why I stopped going to the gym before.....terminally boring, but needs must and I have some training to do, so just choose the bits I know I need to work on and get cracking with it. Cross trainer, chest press, bike, wanted an incline chest press but couldn't find one, and lat pull down was occupied, so onto the rowing machine then for some 500m intervals. Avoid fitballs and stretch mats and decide enough is enough for a first trial, bemoan the fact that a nice swim and sauna now would have been good, and head home for lunch. Worked up an appetite at least.

A friend who is also a member at said gym tries to persuade me I'd like to go back again this evening. I think too much of a good thing can't be good for you, or too much too soon will do me in. I have seen too many people join the running club and get so inspired they run themselves ragged and have to give up, so me....I shall be sensible and wait. After all, tomorrow is another motivated day.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Cheers to my Entry - Update.

Just a brief update (Is that possible?) Cheque for the entry went into the post with a long verbose letter (is there any other kind?) stating my case for previous non payment. In my hurry to send it I just headed for the post box and fingers crossed decided I would give them until the next Wednesday and I would contact again. (What no registered/recorded letter??? I hear you cry.....Um....no!!!!)

Daily checking of email showed nothing, Wednesday arrived (15th June so still 9 days to the deadline date) and I decided to phone again.

A very nice lady answered, "How can I help?", she said. I explained about having sent the cheque and she confirmed it had not been received. Mild panic before I asked, "Can I pay by card over the phone?" short pause while I held my breath, "Oh yes of course".....huge sigh of relief followed by irritation at previous Male (un)helpfulness.

I explained my conversation on Friday and she seemed completely unphased. "Well obviously we prefer cheque.... but there's no problem, I can deal with that now and you will get the link later today"

Regular email checking during the day and sure enough, early afternoon the email with the link appeared. I just needed my runner number to make the final link.....I think I have it somewhere.

Previous year's information found, email checked, link completed, more money paid and a nailbiting wait for the "Thank you for completing your 2012 Virgin London Marathon ill or injured entry, we can confirm that you now have an entry for the 2012 Virgin London Marathon."

I am hopeful that my cheque in the post will not constitute a duplicate entry to cancel all the work I have just done, but I think that is a straw clutching idea, so....

Ah!!!! Penny drops!!!

10 months to go then....better start training (have I heard that before somewhere?)

Friday, 10 June 2011

Everyone MUST pay!!!

I have hit a BIG snag in my 2012 plan and it may just cost me the whole London Marathon place, unless I cross everything very tightly and wish on several shooting stars all at once in unison with pink pigs flying overhead and chocolate bunnies dancing in the moonlight. (not sure about the chocolate bunnnies but the thought was pleasant)

"So what's the problem?" I hear you ask. Well. When my 2011 Marathon acceptance magazine came through I happily immediately withdrew as the written text said to do this if you knew you would be ill or injured and that an email would arrive in May 2011 to offer entry for 2012. I knew already I was entering for 2012 so magazine in hand, withdrawal completed on computer, why wait? I had checked all the info on the website, there was no mention of having to pay.

I then sat back and waited for my email to arrive and after 27th May the due date, came and went, I had still heard nothing, so I thought I had better phone them up to check.

"According to our records you haven't paid so therefore you haven't received an email link" I was told.....Aaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh what????? "I was never asked to pay" I said. Well says the man at the other end, "you got a magazine didn't you? it said so in the magazine, so if you want the link, you have to pay for last year and then we send the link so you can pay for next year". Hmmmmmmm I had thought at the time that maybe not having to pay twice was too good to be true. No such thing a as free London Entry postponement.

"So..." he continued "....if you send a cheque for the £28 for the 2011 entry we can send you the link to pay again for 2012" (I am mildly paraphrasing now as I was getting very twitchy and could see my London 2012 place slipping away rapidly).

I found him extremely intimidating as he spoke accusing me of ignoring the payment bit, which I genuinely didn't know I had to do. Then I found the magazine. It clearly says about withdrawing and states the place for the following year will be open provided the entry dates are adhered to and the relevant fee paid. This does not state for which year the fee is relevant. Nor was there anywhere in the withdrawal process that checked whether I had paid for my entry if I wished it to be carried over to 2012. Nor was there anywhere that stated YOU MUST PAY FOR THIS BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE. (That would have been good and clear eh?) I had to put the phone down on him I was getting very frustrated and I found his attitude very confrontational.

Then I had a eureka moment.

I do not think I received a payment email for 2011 because I withdrew my entry before they were sent out. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it. I really have no recollection of an email arriving asking me to pay for an entry I had already withdrawn from. If indeed I did receive one I would have ignored it as nowhere in the withdrawal process did it say I needed to pay after withdrawing. Oh dear......I knew that if I entered and got injured just before the marathon I could defer my place then and would obviously have paid for it. But I didn't want to run for 2011 so I assumed the withdrawal meant I had withdrawn free of charge and transferred to the following year. Bad explanation I reckon and interestingly I have written to tell them this, so watch next year's acceptance magazine for more clarity (I hope). And maybe he was really just informing me that I did now have to pay to secure the place then get another entry payment in, but there might have been better ways of him saying it.

Anyway I re-composed myself and phoned again to speak to the same fellow, who calmly listened while I suggested I may have found the reason for my non-payment. He advised that if I sent a cheque now, outlining what I had mentioned, for the 2011 entry I still had time to get the link and enter for 2012 as that has to be done prior to 24th June.

Panic time, letter written with long explanation (I must learn to start being more concise) and now need to cross everything for the link to come through so I can pay yet more money to enter and claim my 2012 place.

If only I'd listened to people at the time expressing their surprise at my insistence for non-payment, and in future I might be tempted to enter first and pay the fee, then consider deferral later.

Hang on ...what am I talking about?? There isn't likely to be a next time is there!!!

There was something to be said for the old system where you sent a cheque then you knew that if you had a place it was paid for and if the cheque got returned or just not cashed, then you weren't in (follow that if you can?). So much more simple than leaving people to try and understand their stupid explanation of the rules. I wonder how many others may have been caught out by withdrawing prior to the acceptance/payment emails coming through and thinking "well I've withdrawn so why pay?".

A further check to the online marathon site and their info is slightly updated but still ambiguous, but hey I should be thankful that I chose to phone today and not after June 24th.

Anyhow, please cross everything, I only have 2 weeks to make sure I get my place, otherwise I may just have to change my blog title.