The Countdown Begins

On Tuesday, in six days time, I shall be doing something I haven’t done for a while – playing a game of football. It’s a 40 minute 5-a-side kickaround, with no hiding. Luckily others playing will have a similar level of fitness, but I’m determined to try and run around all game.

Fifteen years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem, but the years of either no or irregular exercise really take their toll. I really know I’m unfit, not by how long I can run for, but how long it takes me to recover. I played football in January, and it was almost a week before I could walk without my leg muscles protesting. Now this probably seems quite shocking to anyone who is fit.

So, what am I doing to? Well, I should really go for a few short jogs. If only I had the time. A combination of working in London and being the father of two young kids really does limit opportunities. Also, at the back of my mind is the fear that by going on these jogs, I won’t recover in time for Tuesday.

So far I have done three 25 minute brisk walks, and will do another seven before I play (walking to and from the train station has some advantages). I might go for a bike ride on Sunday, with a 3 stone weight (my eldest son) on the back of the bike. But the trouble there is he just wants to go to the park, which is too close to work up a real sweat.

I guess my biggest fear is muscle damage. Not through training, but through playing football. No matter what stretches I do before, my muscles are so out of practice that I’m bound to do a groin. That happened the last time I played, simple overstretching for the ball.

If you’re still reading you’ve done well. I’ll update with progress in my training, should there be any. I’m hoping that I can motivate myself to do something away from the safe.

Advice from MotleyHealth:

Go for a couple of gentle jogs and stretch.

Submitted by MotleyHealth on Wed, 05/09/2007 – 11:02pm.

I think that you should go for a run. Even if you just go for a 15 minute run tomorrow (Thursday) you should recover by Tuesday. You should really be able to run/jog Thursday and Saturday. Even with two kids I am sure you can spare 25 minutes (15 jogging, 10 showering). Just run up the road and back, or around the park if it is close. Then stretch afterwards, especially the hips and groin. In fact, do these stretches:

Hip Flexor Stretch

From a standing position, take a step forward with your left leg while keeping the right leg straight. Now bend the knee of the left leg until you feel a stretch in the front area of the right hip. Make sure the left foot is beneath the left knee or slightly in front of it. Hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat with the other side.

Groin Stretch

Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together. While holding your toes, lean your upper body forward, bending from the hips. If you do not feel a stretch in the groin, try to keep your knees further down towards the floor and bring your heels closer to your seat. Hold. To isolate one side of the groin more than the other, push one knee downwards with your hand while you lean forward.

These stretches will help loosen up the muscles before the game. Do them after your gentle jog tomorrow and Saturday.

Reply by Jsparrow

Thanks for the reply. I shall certainly bear it in mind. Both Thursday and Saturday are out, but Friday and Sunday are possibles. There’s a field behind my house, I might run round that a couple of times. Just stretch the legs.

The description of the groin stretch sounds like it will stretch my hamstring, not the groin. Maybe I’m wrong.

Reply by MotleyHealth

I am pretty sure that that is a groin stretch. When it says with the feet together, it mean the soles of the feet together, with knees bent – like sitting crossed legged, but with the feet touching.

We are all awaiting your update Jon. How did the pre-match training go? How was the match? ……

Reply by Jsparrow

Well, it’s two days after the big game, and I’m walking fine. I can feel slight protests in the leg muscles, but nothing bad. Earlier in the year, after playing football, I had trouble getting out of my office chair. No such problems this time. It must be all to do with my pre-match training regime. Here’s what I did….

Jon’s suggestion was for me to train on Thursday and Saturday. A gentle jog followed by some stretches on both days. Well, both days were unavailable to me, so I decided to do Friday and Sunday instead.

Friday I was at work. I went out for lunch and drank rather a lot of wine. By the time I got home, the only thing I wanted to do was eat and drink more wine. So I did. No matter, I always had Sunday. Hmmm. Sunday came, and I was busy all day with the kids. In the afternoon I was going to go for a bike ride with my eldest, but because he had been naughty, as punishment I told him that we couldn’t go on the bike. Bang went my training.

Anyway, Tuesday I played football. It was a 40 minute 5-a-side game, and I had a brief 3 minute rest after 30 minutes as I went in goal. The rest of the game I was running around easily, not always quickly. The last five minutes were a real drag, I had no energy whatsoever. I completely forgot about the post-match stretches (sorry Jon!). A quick change and I was walking back to the train station, followed by a 60 minute train journey, and then a 25 minute walk home.

There were times during the final walk home that I was tempted to break out into a jog, but I decided not to push it too far. It has made me determinted to start getting fitter, as I enjoy exercise and I always feel better having done some. I shall keep you posted. But don’t hold your breath!

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