Freeletics week 5: the art of ignoring the clock

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It’s week 5 of my Freeletics and running regime, if you can call it a regime. ‘Regime’ makes it sounds like something that somebody serious and organised would do, rather than a hapless, grunting moron. But credit where credit’s due (ie TO ME), I’m sticking to the plan and it all seems to be working out so far.

One of the fundamental aspects of Freeletics is that you time yourself during each workout, with the obvious aim being to complete each one as quickly as you can. I’ve kind of struggled a little bit between wanting to set a good time and concentrating on doing my reps properly (which takes longer). I’ve known right from the beginning that it’s more important (and beneficial) for you to concentrate on form as opposed to the clock. But there’s something about having that stopwatch running…

When I first started Freeletics back in the summer, there were many exercises that I couldn’t do in the correct way, and it was pretty much always down to my strength (or rather, my lack thereof). So there were a lot of modified reps in those early days, particularly in things like push ups and pull ups. As the modified versions are easier, it makes sense that you can get through them much more quickly. The net result of that is that you end up setting good times for your workouts. So then the problem arises that as you get stronger and more able to complete your routines with the correct form, your times get worse. Rationally, I know and understand the reasons. But it still pisses me off.

It’s important for me to remind myself that it’s still comparatively early days for me with Freeletics. If you’d started running a few months previously, you wouldn’t expect to be doing marathons in under three hours. I’m now in a period where, going by my times, it looks like I’ve reached a plateau. But the reality is that I’m improving, because I’m doing things I just wasn’t able to do before.

What about my physical development then? I’m pretty pleased. I’ve said from the start that I’m not particularly interested in being ‘ripped’. I’m more concerned with getting fitter and stronger, and hopefully dropping a bit of weight. If I do decide to get really serious about it, then I’m going to need to address my diet. But I’ll save that for future posts… Anyway, in broad terms I can see a real difference. My stomach is a little bit flatter, and there are the beginnings of a little definition down there. My legs, particularly around the thigh area, have grown a bit. It’s noticeable to me, but probably wouldn’t be to anyone else. I’ve got long, thin legs, and I doubt they’re ever going to be ‘big’. No matter how many squats I do. DAMN IT.

The main difference, predictably, is in my arms, shoulders and chest. My chest definition has improved, but not drastically. What’s changed is that it’s bigger! I know this because I’m starting to reach a point where certain fitted shirts I have are now to small for me. Even jackets. I bought a really nice winter coat last year: Italian cashmere and quite expensive (for me). I can’t do it up anymore. Well, I can. But straining buttons is never a good look.

I’ve always had quite thin arms, so the difference there has been pretty good. I’m putting this down to the push ups. I’ve resolved never to do another modified push up, and doing 100 of them on a regular basis certainly does the trick.

All in all then, pretty pleased. I’m also starting to see some improvement in my running. I’m able to put little bursts of speed in here and there without much difficulty, and hills seem to be less of a challenge than they were. But I’m really approaching my running from an enjoyment perspective at the moment, so I’m not all that bothered about being fast or anything.

Talking of running, we have reached ‘that’ time of year. It’s getting wet, and I’m faced with a choice between running on the road or slipping about in the mud. Both of my off road shoes have been used to destruction, so I’ll need to invest in some more. On balance, I’d recommend the Vivo Barefoot Neo Trails over the Merrell Trail Glove. For three reasons: firstly, I prefer the roomier fit of the Neo Trail. Secondly, I think they’re a bit grippier. And lastly, because the Trail Gloves have basically fallen to bits. Did a lot less mileage in them as well. A bit shit really. Then again, the Merrell Road Glove is completely brilliant. So who knows, maybe I got a duff pair of Trail Gloves?

Right, bloody hell, 800 words and I haven’t even told you what I did in week 5 yet. Hold onto your arse because it’s AMAZING (it isn’t amazing).

Monday: Run – 5.6m at 7:53/mile pace

Tuesday: Poseidon – 6:25 (star) and Metis 7:12 (star)

Wednesday: Bugger all like a big fat lazy bastard

Thursday: Zeus – 27.50

Friday: Hera – 18.40 (star and PB)

Saturday: Run – 3.1m at 7:56/mile pace

Sunday: Aphrodite – 29:30 (star)

Quite a productive week. Points to mention, I didn’t get many PBs last week but my form was much improved. I have forever banished the modified pushup to history. Every pushup from hereon in is a proper one. And yes, they hurt like a fucking bastard. But I’m actually starting to like them. The Zeus workout contains a hundred of the buggers, and every single one was ground out. Very satisfying. Slightly disappointed that my Aphrodite time was a bit average, but I guess you can’t keep getting PBs every week. And I’m starting to really get my teeth into Hera. Beat my previous personal best by over 30 seconds. It’s a real lung buster, but again, the masochist in me quite enjoys it.

Overall, quite pleased with things although I would like to run a little more. Two outings in a week isn’t much, but it’s two more than I was doing during my attempt with the Freeletics Coach. So I’m pretty happy.

Right, you need some Oliver Huntemann in your life. YES YOU DO.