• David Downs

With the right mindset, you can smash 2021

You’d think that someone who can 70 miles along Hadrian’s Wall, a qualified nutritionist, and who has a passion for health and fitness would be in a pretty good condition at the start of 2021. At the beginning of any typical new year, you’d probably be right.

2020 certainly had a lot to say for itself. And knowing that in those crazy 12 months, I went from being a very fit 12 stones and 32-inch waist to being a rather cuddly 13.5 stones with a waist that I can’t even begin to contemplate. Even the button on my jeans wouldn’t even get near the buttonhole!

I could come up with a million excuses. After all, there was a plan to run five ultra-marathons, a similar number of trail marathons, and a few fun but challenging events including scaling Snowdon, running across Morecambe Bay, or the length of the Jurassic coast! Such a shame it all got cancelled due to the pandemic of which will remain unmentioned. For a period, not being to go out and run proved very challenging. Although I kept up home training with the old Zoom virtual trainer, eating patterns remained as if I was running 40 miles and cycling 100 miles per week.

Yes, if calories in far outweigh calories burnt, we soon outweigh our elasticated pants. A belly like a bowl full of jelly can happen to the best of us.

To add insult to injury, by the time I had started my pre-training for the 2021 season of ultras, I had lost a certain amount of fitness, and with the added weight, it seemed my poor calves struggled with the increase in load and decided to tear.

Sidelined again, I just had to sit down and figure out how I would get myself back into form. So now we are one week into 2021, I have a whole new set of challenges to face. I am no longer starting from the already high fitness base level, but I feel like a total beginner in my mind (and my legs, heart, lungs). And this is where I am going to turn this to great advantage.

A few years ago, I came across a fitness instructor who did precisely this. He deliberately stopped training and his healthy diet. Diet being used here as regular eating habits, not a short-term, quick-fix to shed weight fast. He put on a certain amount of weight, body fat, and lost his toned body and peak-performance fitness level, so that come the new year, he was able to encourage those of us lesser mortals to go on our nutrition and fitness journey. It’s so inspiring when there is someone beside you going through similar battles. I often struggle when a specimen of perfection instructs me. However, we all forget that they had to start somewhere too.

My only scepticism with this guy was that he was a very fit guy. Any layers of fat etc. would not be so ingrained in his being as it can be on someone who hasn’t perhaps exercised since they were at school. With that said, I have already run four times this year, achieved 22 miles in total, but each run felt like death!

So if you are looking to make a new start in 2021, regain a lost fitness, or just looking to watch an ageing hippy make a fool of himself by exploring different ideas and methods of both exercise and healthy eating, please tag along for the journey.