Seasonal Birds: running, weight-loss and the advent of winter.

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A few years ago I was out doing a long run in preparation for the London marathon. It was in the second week of January, a Sunday morning if I remember correctly. All of a sudden I was running alongside a man wearing brand new trainers, track-suit etc.

I started a conversation with the guy and I asked him if he was on a new year’s resolution. He told me that it was not the case. His wife had bought him the gear for Christmas and as soon as the celebration had ended she was on his case. He said the first two times that he had gone out, instead of doing his runs he had pulled over at the pub. His wife was not very pleased when he got home and all the gear was still unused.

To cut a long story short he said to me that he had been fast asleep on this Sunday morning and his wife had woken him shouting “ You lazy bastard, wake up and go for a run” and there he was huffing and puffing.

I never saw him out again.


This man belong to a category of exercises that I like to call ‘Seasonal Birds’…

They come out in January every year wearing new trainers and gear, such as heart rate monitors, I pods and brand new gloves. You spot them along roads, in parks and in the forest.

A couple of weeks later they disappear to reappear briefly in April, around the time of London Marathon.

They were out again over the summer, inspired by the Olympics, the Paralympics, and the milder weather.

And now that it’s getting colder and darker they are once again disappearing from the streets, leaving the canal paths, tarmac and cycle paths free again.


Now, it is a general belief that people have that running is the best way to lose weight. I don’t blame people for believing that – Just look at the world’s fastest long distance runners. They don’t carry any excess do they?

Unfortunately a lot of it is down to genetics. To get to that level you need to have the right genetic makeup, a body which is lean and which has the right kind of muscle fibre to endure hours and hours of running. Perhaps you need to come from East Africa too.

The average person is not going to get that sort of body if they take up running. What is most likely to happen is that your appetite will increase when you take up running and your body shape will more or less stay the same. Although your body shape will not transform, you will get’ fitter’, and your heart and lungs will get stronger. Also, if you do enjoy running by all means, carry on doing it – it certainly gives you a buzz!

However, if you’re a after a leaner physique, a better way of transforming your body is most likely to be a healthy combination of improved diet, moderate cardio and resistance training. This kind of approach is the one most likely to give you the results you’re after and hence is the one you’re most likely to stick with – unlike the seasonal birds who always disappear (along with their fancy equipment) when their efforts have failed to give them the body of their dreams and the cold nights and dark mornings override any motivation to hit the streets.

PT London


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