Susannah Taylor: Confession: I need to get fit  


Susannah Taylor: Confession: I need to get fit

I may write about wellness for a living, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I’m not ashamed to say that my fitness regime has gone somewhat awol of late. Since I was 36 (I’m now 46), I have exercised three to five days a week. I’d still work out if I was drowning in deadlines and I’d even get up early to exercise when I was on holiday.

But, post-Covid, my exercise regime has fallen to the bottom of my to-do list. I’m not alone – recent research by exercise tracking app Strava and the This Girl Can health campaign shows that one in three women are ‘taking a break’ from exercise.

I don’t like falling off the exercise wagon because I know how life-changing it is. I was at a dinner party in my mid-30s when I made the decision to up my fitness game. My kids were three and five, I felt sluggish and out of shape.

 I was sitting next to my friend Ruth – the fittest person I know. ‘Will exercise give me more energy?’ I wailed. ‘Yes,’ Ruth said. ‘Just try it.’ The next day, I went for a run down a lane near my house.

 I stopped halfway, gasping for air. My legs were screaming at me to stop, my heart was jumping out of my chest. I hated it. However, when I got home I felt a calmness. Was this really the so-called ‘runner’s high’?

I don’t like falling off the exercise wagon because I know how life-changing it is. Now, while I’m nowhere near as unfit as I was ten years ago, I need a goal to get me back on track

I don’t like falling off the exercise wagon because I know how life-changing it is. Now, while I’m nowhere near as unfit as I was ten years ago, I need a goal to get me back on track

I then read a book called Run Fat B*tch Run by Ruth Field. Don’t be put off by the title – it’s a great read about how to start running from scratch. We often throw ourselves headlong into exercise, going too hard too soon, which feels horrible and is why the majority of people who head to the gym in January give up by March. The key, Field explains, is to begin running slowly – at first go a little faster than a walk. This is what I did, building it up until I was amazed that, even at a snail’s pace, I could run 2km to the next village and back.

Over a few months I ran three times a week, each run edging a bit further and faster than the last. Slowly I started to enjoy it. After every run it was as if someone had sorted the to-do list in my brain. I could think clearly, I was efficient and I was bouncing with energy. For the first time ever, I understood why exercise can be addictive.

Then came a blow. At the fittest I’d ever been, I snapped the ACL (one of the ligaments that holds your knee together) while skiing. I was told I wouldn’t be able to run for six months. Determined not to lose my fitness, I learned to swim instead. The lessons were a game-changer – small tweaks in technique meant I went from swimming two to 40 lengths front crawl in the space of weeks. And so I signed up for the Blenheim Palace Triathlon.

I don’t like falling off the exercise wagon 

The most amazing thing about getting super-fit is the knock-on effect. Having suffered from anxiety, I found it almost wiped it away. I also lost weight. I started to eat more nutritious food and I quit sugary snacks. The result was that I lost the 1.5 stone I couldn’t shift post-children. My skin was flawless – if you’ve ever seen a personal trainer’s skin you’ll understand. All that oxygenated blood pumping around the system produces a glow no blusher can ever create.

One of the biggest surprises, though, was that I never got ill ‒ I didn’t even have a sniffle for three years. Research shows that movement has a positive impact on our immune system, and I was living proof.

Now, while I’m nowhere near as unfit as I was ten years ago, I need a goal to get me back on track. There’s only one thing for it ‒ I have just signed up for the Blenheim Palace Triathlon 2023. Who’s in?

 MY WORKOUT WINNERS 

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Made from recycled polyester, sugar cane and natural latex, Veja’s eco-friendly Impala trainers in Matcha Cream (£105, veja-store.com) are the brand’s lightest and most versatile yet

I’m not a fan of tight tops that cling around the chest area. This style by Bam (£25, bambooclothing.co.uk) is loose but flattering

I’m not a fan of tight tops that cling around the chest area. This style by Bam (£25, bambooclothing.co.uk) is loose but flattering

These super-soft organic cotton Technical Running Socks (£25 for two pairs, sweatybetty.com) are engineered with an inbuilt arch and anti-blister panel

These super-soft organic cotton Technical Running Socks (£25 for two pairs, sweatybetty.com) are engineered with an inbuilt arch and anti-blister panel

Sweat-wicking Double Layered Running Shorts (£17.99, hm.com) have a jersey cycling layer underneath that provides added support and minimises friction

Sweat-wicking Double Layered Running Shorts (£17.99, hm.com) have a jersey cycling layer underneath that provides added support and minimises friction

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