I’ve never embraced the idea of working out every day, fully aware that our bodies need some R&R between sessions. However when a friend challenged me to join him on a ‘simple’ seven-day commitment to fitness, I couldn’t resist.
Now I know why they call it ‘hell week’. This morning as I went to spring out of bed, I remembered why they recommend you rest between workouts…
Today is Day Four. Day One was a breeze, enjoyable and inspiring. I sprinted, did weighttraining and generally had a really good 90 minute workout. Day Two was also brilliant. I threw myself into a gym session filled with squats and lunges, then finished with a five-mile run.
Day Three was equally fun. I went to a bootcamp session where the focus was on chest and abs. The problem is that the trainer was tough. He made us run as fast as we could up a steep hill on the treadmill until we were begging to stop. Couple these hill runs with press-ups until our arms were shaking and you know that you’ve worked to your max. I suspected that things were not going to be as easy from here on!
Fast forward to that evening. I sat on the floor of the lounge and every muscle in my legs ached. They felt like they were pulsating. The DOMS had kicked in. DOMS is ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ – the phenomenon of muscle pain, soreness or stiffness that occurs in the day or two after exercise. It’s most common when you begin a new exercise programme or routine or perhaps after a seriously intense workout.
My husband offered to rub my legs and I thought this would be lovely until he touched my quad – it was like he’d taken a hammer to it! I almost fainted with the pain! This is the point I suspected that I just might have overdone it.
I’m not sure whether the squats and lunges on Day Two or the trainer on Day Three had tipped me over the edge. All I knew is that Day Four was going to be tough.
So my alarm started buzzing at the usual time of 2.30am and immediately I realised that my legs were not working in sync with my brain. I leave for work at Heart radio every morning at 3am, so I knew I had 30 minutes to try and get dressed and down the stairs. The latter proved the tricky part – it reminded me of the first time I ran a marathon… The day after it took me 15 minutes to get downstairs and I had to travel backwards!
I work with someone who thought this was hilarious. He avoids any form of fitness and said that I was confirmation that exercise was bad for you. He doesn’t understand that although these aches are a hindrance, there’s also something rather satisfying about them. It’s evidence that you have pushed yourself and, in my opinion, confirmation that exercise is in fact good for you.
So I went to another gym session. This time I did some running and some ab work (lots of crunches and planks). I definitely wasn’t as strong today as I was on Day One but I felt my body toning and strengthening.
The effects are definitely psychological as well as physical – I feel fantastic and am hoping that I can make it through to Day Seven.
I realise that yes, in general, it is absolutely necessary to have rest days. Pushing your body to such an extent does take its toll eventually and you must continuously bear in mind the need for plenty of stretching to avoid injury. I’ve also booked in for a sports massage at the end of the week.
Other people are quick to judge and tell you that you are overdoing it, that you shouldn’t be so obsessed, that you need to look after yourself more carefully. I agree that you shouldn’t work out quite as often as this and I will probably not do this again, but it was a challenge! Why not try it just the once?
As for my friend who set the challenge – how is he getting on? Well conveniently, his “alarm didn’t go off” on Day Three and he “missed the bus” on Day Four, or at least they’re the best excuses he could come up with.