Spring training: Johnny be good

Lazy Lucy's gruelling relationship with her 'trainer' keeps her coming back for more positive results.

You can reach your running goals with the adidas miCoach in tow. Photo / Thinkstock
You can reach your running goals with the adidas miCoach in tow. Photo / Thinkstock

I've broken up with Johnny Wilkinson again. He's just too bossy.

Perhaps I should explain. Young Johnny-be-quite-good, the English one who is apparently not terrible at rugby, has been coaching me in my running programme. Not personally, you understand but via my adidas miCoach. From within the small black box clipped to my jogging tights he bosses me about: "You're three-quarters through. Time to step it up, run for the next three minutes at 60 per cent", or "Three minutes to go, it's time for one last push".

I think that's what did it for me and Johnny. One last push? Naff off. I'm already dragging myself along the ground.

But let's start at the beginning.

After several weeks of wedging the arse off the couch into exercise and being repaid in various forms of torture and aching limbs, followed by a stirring case of the common cold, I was seriously considering breaking up with exercise altogether - writing it off as a misjudged flirtation, doomed to fail.

Then a friend said they'd tried miCoach and it had encouraged them back into regular running and, more impressively, was keeping them at it. I was sceptical but a nerve was twanged and my interest piqued. I do, despite all evidence to the contrary, consider myself a runner. I will often regale friends, or indeed anyone who will listen, on my triumphs as a member of the high school athletics team. I believe there were even trophies and ribbons, although I remain deliberately vague in case somebody decides to Google them.

Then some delightful "frenemy" pointed out these triumphs were some 20-"cough cough" years ago and from that point it became a matter of pride and stubborn determination to start running again.

The thing I'd forgotten of course is that it's quite horrible. Especially when you're starting. It's very easy to lose your - or at least my - motivation running on your own. I do tend to slow to a walk as soon as it feels a bit hard, which is almost immediately. Which is where miCoach is surprisingly effective. The full kit includes a pacing monitor that fits either on or in your shoe, and a heart rate monitor. You then clip the central unit to your clothes somewhere. (It can also be linked via your iPod so you don't have to forego the musical motivations). The unit is small - about 4cm long, so it's not as though you're running carrying a PC.

Before your first run download the miCoach manager programme to your computer and work out a training schedule based on your current fitness, how often you want to run and what you want to achieve. That programme is then uploaded to your miCoach - and off you go.

Johnny, or whoever your chosen coach is - you can use the factory-set voice or download any number of sporting stars - will guide you through the workout as you run. It's all based on zones of effort - blue being the mildest and red the hardest. The unit stores all your heart rate and pace information and once you're done with a run you can download that data to the manager so you can track your progress.

And though I was initially cynical - no bloody computer chip is not the boss of me, etc - to my surprise it works.

I swear at it when it wants me to go faster than is humanly possible. I threaten to flush it when it seems I've been running for hours and it tells me it's only been two minutes, but there's something about the damn thing that makes me go out for another run where once I would have happily lay down somewhere dark and cool with a cocktail.

In five weeks I've gone from being unable to even finish the 12-minute easy assessment run to running fairly comfortably, if still fairly slowly, for close to half an hour. And while that's not exactly a marathon it's still quietly pleasing. So I'm back on the exercise track - and I can legitimately call myself a runner, albeit a half-arsed, slow one.

Watch this space and will I'm dipping my athletic toes in other fitness regimes I'll keep the running going.

* adidas.com/micoach

- NZ Herald

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