Phil Samuel

Exercising has always been a part of my life because as soon as I could walk I was kicking a football. However, once I stopped playing football at 18 I felt like I had a void whereby I didn’t have a sport to play but wanted to stay fit. Fitness has its own interpretation to everyone. From ages 18 until now I have an internal conflict that means my goals change almost every 6 months and I guess it falls in to two categories: cardio or strength. 

During the winter I normally persue cardiovascular fitness. I’m quite lucky in that aspect that I can improve my fitness relatively quickly but it does mean my goals get more ambitious each year. During my time at university I got involved with athletics club meaning I would run relatively regularly which enabled me to achieve a few personal goals. My proudest are running my first marathon at 18 and at the age of 21, I did a double marathon (an 85km race) that took me 11 hours to complete. Being cardiovascularly fit is great and when you finish the race you’ve trained for months for it seems all worth it. I’d love to say it was all easy and I enjoyed all of the process to crossing the finish line however that’s far from the case. There’s a few things that I really didn’t enjoy about running at least 5 times a week. Firstly, the majority of the training was through the winter and trying to find motivation to go for a run when it’s 2 degrees and hammering down outside is not easy. Were there days when I really didn’t want to run? Yes, lots of them and I’d love to sit here and say “and I went anyway” but that’s just not true. Missing runs was a regular thing (probably once a week) and I’d always feel guilty after. However once you’ve missed a run, there’s no point dwelling on it so you might as well just focus on the next training run. 

Another thing I don’t enjoy about running a lot is what it does to my body weight. I lose a lot of weight when I’m in race condition and although it’s not unhealthy, it’s not a physique I enjoy. During the winter it’s fine because everyone’s wrapped up in coats and it doesn’t matter. But when you get to summer and you’re around people who have been in the gym all winter, you look very skinny and it’s not a feeling I particularly enjoy. This then leads me to want to get back in to the gym and start weight training. 

I normally start weight training in April time when my body weight is at its lowest (around 70kg) and I’ll try and bulk over the next 4-5 months before September comes and I’m back to uni athletics. I find that as long as I incorporate going to the gym in to my daily routine I tend to go most days. The first couple of months are always the easiest with numbers flying up and some mass becoming more noticeable. However after 3 months of the same routine and exercises it can be hard to maintain focus and commitment but on the most part it’s okay. The thing I find hardest isn’t lifting the weight, it’s consuming enough calories to continue to enable growth. If I’m bulking I’ll probably eat around 4500-5000 calories a day and that enables me to gain weight at a steady rate. Eating that much food sounds amazing until you realise how much rice that is. Kilos of the stuff a week. Obviously I could eat more fatty foods but I’d rather keep a healthy diet. 

Over the next 5 months I aim to put on around 8-10kg which is pretty realistic. I do have days where I can’t be bothered to go after work and I just accept that that’s part of it. So September rolls around, I’m feeling strong but I wouldn’t have done much cardio, maybe a couple of runs a week, and I’d be too heavy to compete in atheltics so I cut down my gym sessions and I run more. 

On the whole I enjoy staying fit and I feel lost without physical activity. It boosts my mood and makes me feel like I’ve achieved something with my day. There are days when I really can’t be bothered to do anything and that’s okay, there’s no point beating yourself up over it. Staying happy is more important than an extra workout.”


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