Sustainability is a key part of the Jane Mansley Fitness and Pilates ethos. Just as I believe that any exercise plan should be sustainable long-term, so should our lifestyle generally.
This year, I tried the Plastic Free July challenge to give up single-use plastics for a month. Why plastics? When China stopped accepting most plastics for recycling in 2018, countries such as the UK began to divert plastic waste to other countries which didn't have the infrastructure to cope with the recycling. Much ended up in landfill, and has found its way to the sea, or has simply been burned, polluting the local area with toxic fumes. According to Cambridge city council, our plastics are currently recycled, so it's worth separating your waste, but reducing plastic use generally is more sustainable as the market for recycled plastic is limited. Unlike glass and metal, plastics cannot be recycled indefinitely. Plastics are polymers (long chains of atoms) and the chains shorten during the recycling process, reducing their quality. Even with the best systems in place, a piece of plastic can only be recycled about 2-3 times before it can no longer be used.
My goals during Plastic Free July were to:
Having finished the challenge, it's been an eye-opener. I had thought that I was already pretty conscious of waste, but it transpires that I had a fair bit of room for improvement. Here are a few changes I will stick with:
Some ambitions were less successful:
This week we have a guest blog coming to you from Myra, who is sharing her experience of getting into running, culminating in finishing a Parkrun - hopefully the first of many! She writes:
I started running early last year. Most people have some sort of New Year's Resolutions. Mine were very vague, but included a feeling that it would be nice if I could jog for a mile. There have been a couple times in my life when I've tried to take up jogging/running as a sport, but my interest rapidly waned as I didn't have any real goals and I didn't particularly like running. Still, in January 2018 I thought: humans are supposed to be good at running, so I really ought to be able to run, even if for only just a mile. This remained a vague thought until March, when there was an email at work about a ladies lunchtime beginner running club starting up. The idea was that we would meet up for a relaxed pace run of about 2 miles. "What if I can't run for 2 miles?" I asked. "You can walk part of it if you need to, no worries!" was the reply. I was encouraged by it being for beginners as well as being for women. I felt that there wouldn't be any competition, and that it would be OK to be slow.
So I pulled out my dusty running shoes and joined the group. The first time it was difficult - I had to walk quite a bit of the way and my muscles really hurt for a few days afterwards. The next time I was able to jog some more and walk less, and my muscles hurt much less. The third time I was able to make it around (at a slow jogging pace) without walking, and my leg muscles barely felt anything a few hours after I got back. Now I'm a regular. I find that while I still don't actually enjoy the running/jogging itself a great deal, I like very much that I am able to do it, and the pleasure that this level of fitness gives me is enough to outweigh the discomfort I feel during the actual running. I find that I enjoy running by the river - especially looking at the birds (ducks, geese, swans, coots, moor hens, and the occasional cormorant and heron).
This year my goal was to do an official 5K run. I signed up to Parkrun but still didn't do it for several months. I added a few little loops to my runs around the science park and tried to go a bit further along the river. Although it's fine to do a Parkrun at a walking pace, I really did want to be able to jog the entire way. Finally, on Saturday I did it.
On the day it was great. Everyone was friendly and encouraging, from the little cluster of first-timers gathered for a briefing before the run, through all the marshalls along the route and at the finish, to the people with scanners after the finish line. I started at the back as I know I'm pretty slow, and that turned out to be definitely the right move. I did overtake a few people who dropped to a walk, and I was overtaken by many people who were faster than I am, but I didn't feel bad about being overtaken. They were running their own race, possibly trying for a personal best, but my goal was just to get around without walking, which I did. Mission accomplished! But even more importantly, I really enjoyed it, as the atmosphere was so good.
So what are my goals now? Train for a 10k, or the half marathon? Nah, I'm over 50 and have a dodgy knee. But having reached the ability to run a 5k without killing myself, I want to keep up this level of fitness. I'd like to try to do a Parkrun at least once a month, especially over the winter. If I can keep this up I'll be pleased with myself. Do I want to get faster? Nah, not really. I always have been a "steady as she goes" kind of person - I just don't like pushing myself too much. If I get faster, I guess that would be nice, but it isn't my goal. My goal is just to keep coming, and to watch the number of Parkruns done slowly climb up. And this fits in fine with the Parkrun ethic – it’s OK to be slow, you just need to get out there and do it.
Fitness and Pilates instructor with a passion for science.