Do You Even Lift, Bro?

After I arrived in London I decided to take a second stab at Couch to 5k, having abandoned it the first time around. The problem now was finding a time and place. At first I tried running in the evenings around Wandsworth Common, conveniently close to where I was staying. That started to feel more than a little unsafe, however, especially on the evenings I got home safe enough to push me through -twilight- dusk and into full dark. I'm fortunate enough to work very close to Hyde Park, however, so I transplanted my runs here and started taking time out of my work day. Running through Hyde Park in the sun is awesome, by the way.

All was fine and dandy until I fell off a surf board during a short break and cracked the top of my foot against the sea bed. I'd twisted myself into a slightly odd position in order to accomplishing this, and so it had the added bonus effect of pushing my foot much further back than it's really supposed to go. By the time I got back to London, my entire foot had turned a lovely combination of purple and yellow. Shit.

Needless to say, this put a fairly major obstacle in the way of any running that I might try to do, given that it really hurt to even walk. So, once again, the running stopped. In parallel to all of this, however, I'd spent some time clicking around the "connected apps" section on Run Keeper's website and found something called "Fitocracy". It was two things rolled into one:

  1. A fitness related social network;
  2. A gamification system which awards points and achievements based on fitness activities performed.

Gamification works ridiculously well on my computer game addled brain. Scoring those points (and levelling up!) worked as an excellent motivator for me while I was running. When I signed up to the site I also joined the mailing list. Against all normal logic, some of those emails actually turned out to be quite interesting. A lot of them were member spotlights, and a lot of these members were talking about the fact that it was lifting weights, and not doing cardio, which got them into shape.

I did some more reading and found myself pointed at /r/fitness, where a lot of people were saying very similar things. Two workout programs were suggested for beginners, Starting Strength and Strong Lifts 5x5. Having made the decision to get myself back in shape, I decided I would have a go at one of these programs. As for which, why, and what they entail: that's actually post of its own, because there are actually a couple of other programs I want to talk about as well. Stay tuned.