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Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more …

There has been a period of relative radio silence from me over the past two months – primarily about my ongoing fitness campaign – and so today I thought I’d provide an update.

In short, recently there hasn’t been one (a fitness campaign, I mean).

As sometimes happens with the careers of all great athletes, even one like me in his 67th year, sometimes Fate intervenes and causes a hiccup.

This might involve an injury (whether traumatic or just a niggle), or a disciplinary ban, or simply – as has happened in my case – a series of personal circumstances which have contrived to limit my opportunities to take exercise at all.

Mine have been in the form of things out of my control.

Specifically a flurry of commitments to deal with matters relating to my aged father – mainly medical appointments and domestic issues which by chance have arisen at times when other family members have necessarily been preoccupied elsewhere and therefore yours truly has been obliged to step into the breach – and the fact that out of the blue one of the staples of my fitness campaign (the gym to which I belong) has been rendered out of commission for the past six weeks due to a programme of maintenance and major refurbishment.

The result has been inevitable. Lack of opportunity and lack of free time – particularly when one is on the wrong side of fifty – has resulted in a trough of daily weariness and then a sense of “Oh, what the heck, who cares?!” even when ideally I should have been getting more and more frustrated at the situation and thence forcing myself to get out there in order (at the very least) to ensure I hit my daily target of 10,000 steps.

In an ideal world an unexpected obstacle or two ought really to be an automatic spur to greater inventiveness and determination to maintain some kind of fitness activity, i.e. rather than one that naturally leads to resignation and then a myriad of self-serving excuses as to why flopping in front of the television with a newspaper or book, eating ready meals of stupefying calorie content and then upping your weekly alcohol intake by 150% suddenly becomes the norm.

I put it all down to the fine lines that separate modern elite fitness from the minor issues that can leave an athlete unable to perform at peak level (and for this purpose let’s leave Sir Bradley Wiggins’ ‘little local difficulties’ with asthma and TUE injections out of this).

Whether you’re a highly-tuned and highly-strung thoroughbred racehorse, or Seb Coe – or even just a superannuated portly old geezer trying King Canute-like to hold back the ravages of Time – the strains and stresses that accompany training to the physiological extremes of what the body can endure also inevitably make you susceptible to minor infections, ‘flu and similar, any one of which can take that 0.01% off your peak performance and – in the Olympics – which can make the difference between winning the gold medal and the silver … or even no medal at all.

Overnight I have made a resolution – come hell or high water – to begin my fitness campaign afresh on Monday morning …



On which subject, or rather tangential to it, there was a fascinating article by Kate Rowan in the Daily Telegraph this week (on 8th March) entitled Menstruation: The Last Great Taboo In Women’s Sport.

I’m very sorry that I cannot provide Rust readers a link to it here because of the newspaper website’s pay-wall [a device I will have nothing to do with on principle because I buy the newspaper every day and object to paying for it twice].

Being a mere male, of course, my medical understanding of the female body – despite my extensive amateur field research over the last fifty years – is pitifully slight and as a result this piece was an eye-opener.

Hitherto I had imagined that the vast majority female athletes routinely controlled their bodies via the Pill and/or other approved medical methods to ensure that when it came to major athletic events, or matches, or tournaments they would be at peak performance capability and not suffering [if that is the right world and it probably is] from the effects of their monthly cycles.

Not so, it seems. (Here I’d recommend to Rust readers that they either try to find the article referred to and/or conduct their own research).

After completing the article, my immediate reaction had been to refill my gin & tonic glass and go out onto my terrace for ten minutes, the better, firstly, to contemplate the revelations it had contained which had given me a sudden and chastening ‘heads up’ upon a subject upon which my knowledge had been woefully inadequate; and secondly, to marvel at (and sympathise with) what elite female athletes have to deal with.





About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts