The "Jockstrap Gym"

I go to a gym which I affectionately call the "jock-strap gym". It's acquired this name as, when I first visited it and was considering membership, there was a rather disconcerting smell around the place. I have no idea what a sweaty jockstrap smells like but it was as close as my imagination could come to identifying the smell. Notwithstanding the pungent odour, I decided to join as I've been a (poor attending, under performing) member of a number of gyms which are populated by lycra-clad, anorexic bimbos or steroid-abusing, musclebound poseurs and I simply don't fit in. People like that upset my training regime as I find it hard not to judge and get irritated. The jockstrap gym was, it seemed, populated by ordinary people just trying to get a little fitter (and hopefully not die prematurely of heart disease or stroke). I can identify with this. I've no desire to become a super athlete but I know that without concerted effort, my body will rebel. I have a gym at home which I use regularly but I never seem to get the results or push myself to the level I do when there's other people around. It's something to do with the different dynamics and atmosphere and the fact that we're group animals. I often get on the running machine and silently promise myself that I won't stop running until all the other guys on the machines have finished. One of these days I'll come seriously unstuck as I'll end up on a treadmill next to a triathalete and I'll have a heart attack before he finishes his run!

The gym has improved and been modernised considerably since I joined (about 4 years ago) but I'll always think of it as the jockstrap gym and, strangely, I feel comfortable there even though it's now attracting some of the 'lycra-lovies'

weight machines

About a year ago, one of the trainers in the gym put up a poster advertising the "100 Mile Challenge". The idea was to do 100 miles using four different pieces of apparatus - treadmill, cross trainer (stepping machine), rowing machine and bike. The 100 miles could be broken down any way you wanted but there was a condition that at least 10% of the total (i.e.10 miles) had to be done on each piece of equipment. I thought about this and commented that it was an awful lot to do in a day and that it might be beyond the reach of most average gym-goers. " No, you tosser, it's supposed to be done over a week!" was the trainer's response. "No-one could do it in a day!" ...... I retreated, suitably admonished.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to challenge the notion that it couldn't be done in a day. As anyone who knows me well will know, one of the best ways of getting me to do something is to say that it can't be done (or, increasingly these days, that it shouldn't be done). My friends take advantage of this and I'm often the one who will, against my better judgement, try something which is a bit outside the norm. I'm sure that, understanding my stubborness, some of the guys who know me well will dream up silly challenges which they know I'll have a go at, just for their own amusement. Joking apart, I've always believed that if you think something can't be done, you've already defeated yourself whereas if you believe that it can be done, you're halfway to achieving it. Ask Roger Bannister or Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Anyway, the idea of doing 100 miles in the gym in one day played on my mind and I started working out timings and the logistics of such a challenge and I think at that stage, I'd decided try it. In fact, I think I'd decided to do it as soon as the trainer in the gym said it couldn't be done although it's taken me nearly 12 months to set a date. That date is to be 1st June 2011 for no particular reason aside from the fact that at the time I set the date (early 2011), I still had a few months time to train properly for the task. However, as is usual for me, time's passed rather quickly and I truly haven't done much by way of proper training. In fact, I haven't done much at all except talk about it. Also, I've just been on holiday to Cyprus and put on an additional 7 pounds of weight! At the time of writing therefore, (April 2011) I genuinely do not know if I can do this and I'm beginning to wonder why I even wanted to do it in the first place.


The target

Treadmill - 26.2 miles

A Marathon! It would be good to run a 'gym Marathon' and if I could do it in under 4 hours, I'd be pleased with myself but I know from doing my Marathon on Anglesey in 2008 that I wouldn't normally have a lot of energy left afterwards even though I'd only be just over a quarter of the way through the challenge. If I go at a more moderate pace (say 6 mph) it'll take me about 4 hours 23 minutes.

Running machines

Cross-trainer (stepping machine) - 10 miles

I truly hate the stepping machine so I'll do the minimum 10 miles. It's not comfortable for me and the maximum speed I can manage is about 3-4 mph so it's going to take me at least 2.5 hours. I've worked out that it'll require some 2000 steps per mile which is a total of 20,000 steps.

Stepping machines

Rowing machine - 10 miles

I'm not fond of the rowing machine either so it'll be another 10 miles (16,000 metres) if I can even breathe by this time. I've worked out that it takes me 15 pulls per 100 metres so it will require 2,400 pulls. This is at a rate of 8 minutes per mile but if I allow 10 minutes per mile (as I'll be knackered and slowing down) it'll take about 1 hour 40 minutes.

Rowing machines

Bike - 54 miles

The remainder of the 100 miles will have to be done on the bikes which I believe is the easier of the 4 pieces of equipment (at least I can sit down!) so I'll need to do 54 miles. If I aim for an average of 15 mph then it'll take me about 3 hours 40 minutes.

Cycling machines

So.... there it is - "seemples" as Aleksandr the Meekat would say. 26 miles running, 10 miles stepping, 10 miles rowing and 54 miles cycling. Over 12 hours of continuous activity and approximately 10,000 calories burned.

The gym opens at 08.00 and closes at 21.00 so I only have 13 hours maximum. I haven't allowed for any breaks, transfer times from one machine to another, toilet breaks (although I'm likely to be sweating so much, I won't need a pee!) or time to take in any water. This is starting to look like a formidible challenge.



An average Male of my size and weight will burn approximately 2000 to 2500 calories per day without any particularly strenuous activity. If the overall challenge is going to burn an additional 10,000 calories then the maths are simple - I need to somehow take in about 12,000 calories. Power gel/energy bars and electrolyte drinks delivering Carbs, Potassium and Sodium as well as rehydrating me will be essential. I'm also going to have to think carefully about diet, sleep and alcohol intake leading up to 1st June and then dietary supplements in the recovery period too.

I think I'd better start training.....

more to follow


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