Happy running and a planking rant

Janathon running is going well at the moment, dare I say. The weather is average and I like it cool with little breeze, so the past two days have really suited me. My routes have been varied on every daylight run, so little opportunity of getting bored with the sights. And my legs are only just showing signs of fatigue. My muscles are fresh enough but tell-tale signs of bone wearyness are letting me know I’m heading for my longest consistent running mileage for years. Nothing serious enough to concern me, but enough to let me know that today’s run should be a little shorter.

So a short cycle around my favourite running loop with an extra bit tacked on to buy some veg from the farm shop was swiftly followed by a trip out on the legs to get a circuit around Stumble Lane done before it got dark and hi-vis clothing became a requirement. And a sensibly slow pace, concentrating on striking mid-foot to vary my footfall was adopted which, combined with a short stride, ended up averaging 7.39 per mile. No runners to report, millions of people heading into the biggest Tesco in the universe (apparently the second biggest in the country, verified only by people in the pub so it might be true. All I know is they’ve made it impenetrable to the eye and raised the shelves to increase storage, presumably to reduce warehouse requirement. I’m sure everyone else loves it but, in spending millions improving it I am no longer a regular customer. Daft when it’s only half a mile from home, but it’s a foul place to shop now, even worse than before and I disliked it then. So a 7 mile trip to a store I do like is now the unfortunate result when the local farm shop and newsagent/Post Office can’t satisfy requirements) and a smattering of dog walkers were the encounters.

Then I got home and loaded up then put the bread machine on only to see JogBlog abusing my being by using (I believe the concept is called) hashtags (such an ugly phrase in itself) on Facebook to explain in her blog about an internet/Twitter phenomenon called Planking. And not even the fun “take an unusual photo of yourself/someone with you laying like a plank on an unusual object” style…apparently there’s an exercise called a plank. The internet will describe it fully to those who (like me) don’t know about these things, but when I read it up my jaw was on the floor with incredulity that it’s a worthwhile and considered thing. “Better than crunches” some say (for core benefits as well as less fatigue on the back). All the descriptions I looked at appear to indicate a bit of a lay down either on elbows or hands, on toes or knees, all with a straight back. A bit surprised, I approached Cathy’s office and asked if “this” (as I adopted the position I’d seen) is a plank. “Yes” she said. “And is this meant to be an exercise?” I queried. “Yes” she replied. My amazed querying and her increasingly hysterical laughing continued for some minutes along the lines of me asking “And what am I meant to do tomorrow when I’m still here and waiting for it to fatigue me? How do I pay the mortgage when I can’t go to work? When do I eat? Can you pass me the Kindle, it’ll be easier to tab the page forward button instead of turning a page. But you’d better get a USB extension because it’s only got 32 days of charge and I don’t want it running out before I get tired”. At which point I got bored and got up.

Is this another example of everything being dumbed down? First it was “O” levels, now exercises, is that it? Is the idea to make folk think they’re healthier than they are? In 30 years of hundreds of thousands of traditional sit-ups mixed with crunches and several million press-ups I’ve never had lower back problems as a result. I have a limit on the number of crunches (or bastard-ups as my perverted method is christened by me) I can do. If “Planking” is an exercise, surely there should be a time when physical tiredness takes over from mental boredom? I become bored during sit-ups, but at least my heart-rate/breathing increases and I can feel something happening. Similar to the query regarding the threshold of sport and game is there a defined term for exercise and past-time, I wonder, and are there “planking” accessories to ward off sleep?

If I’ve upset or offended anyone with my views, I don’t quite apologise but do offer words of advice. I don’t pretend to be  anything but a middle-aged idiot who gets injured too easily with below average fitness and ability, but if “planking” is hard to you, get some stomach/back/abdominal strength and toning through some traditional exercise and then try it again in a few months time and see if my rant makes sense then. If you need to do enough to allow you to achieve one sit-up and progress from there, please feel free. But I can’t see it becoming a useful tool beyond that. Because honestly, it’s a joke. No, I won’t be including it into my exercise sessions for the year!

142 runs, 98 exercise sessions and 48 rides to go.

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11 responses to “Happy running and a planking rant

  1. Ordinary person

    This is the most boring blog I have ever read.

  2. Nice busy Janathon day! And a thought provoking (and slightly ranty) blog post!

    Sean, I hear where you are coming from with the dumbing down of exercises. When I see TV adverts promoting fitness through playing video games I worry about the future of our nation’s fitness. Then I think anything that makes even the tiniest bit of exercise accessible to people who are reluctant to keep fit, has to be encouraged.

    By the way, I keep meaning to have a go with the planks!

    Keep up the great work 🙂

  3. Yippee! A well structured, considered comment “ordinary person” …always nice to hear some love
    Thanks, Miles and good point on anything being better than nought.

  4. Well done you must have a really strong core as the plank is tough if done correctly. Have a look on you-tube as there are some really great alternatives to mix it up a bit, slight variations can make it soooooooo much harder! Three variations shown here (in between him talking too much!)

  5. I find the plank gruelling but I have the weakest core and back!

  6. Pingback: Marathon Training, Week 1 – Done « The Diary of A Bananaphobe & other Short Stories

  7. I like your style! Agreed, the “Plank” is a very sedentary exercise and can see how boredom could be the determining factor in how long you could endure it. Like you, I’m sticking with sit-ups and crunches – at least you can give in when you are beginning to tire and not because you’re about to doze off.

  8. Pingback: Emergency plank – Day 8 (with bonus tiny features of Day 7) « notmuchofarunner

  9. They upgraded our tesco a while ago, adding in an escalator, a mezzanine floor and a Starbucks. It’s hell on earth.

  10. Pingback: Helsbels.org.uk · Janathon 12: Plankaday and ramble

  11. Pingback: #janathon fail? | abradypus

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