20 and dead unfit

I've had a bloke this week 'shadowing' me as work experience. He's 20 and trying to give up smoking - has smoked since 16. He confessed that he couldn't even run for the bus. I couldn't believe it, but he really couldn't run. Is this really true of most 20 year olds? Tobacco companies have a lot to answer for.



  • So has cable/satellite TV.
  • When I was 20, I believed I couldn't run, and I didn't smoke. I wasn't particularly unfit - just had never been taught HOW to run.
  • I was told I couldn't.
    There are two PE teachers I would LOVE to catch up with.
  • Me too, Barkles. The PE curriculum in my school didn't include any running apart from sprinting (max. 400 metres) in the few weeks before the sports day races, and we were just plonked on the starting line and told to run fast to the finishing line. I was the short, slightly podgy, specky walking encyclopaedia kid who was always expected to be last, and always was (I pegged out halfway through my first 400m attempt, and never tried again). It didn't occur to the PE teachers to find out that when I wasn't in school I lived on a bicycle or in the swimming pool and could walk the little white socks off my slimmer friends when we hit the hills, and I think they were relieved when I just stopped going to PE classes.

    It would be mightily difficult to embarrass me now, but teenage humiliations are not easily forgiven. I wonder if they've all sprouted the facial hair and extra limbs I wished upon them as I watched my form's hockey team go for yet another year without scoring a single goal and thought that they would have had nothing to lose by giving me a game or two.
  • With you all the way.
    Now a Headteacher!!!!!
    I sympathise/empathis with the wheezy, specky, academics.
    I don't hate all PE teachers cos there some damn good ones, but I just didn't meet any when I needed to.
  • The trouble with running at school is, it isn't taught to be in any way enjoyable. Cross country runs in the freezing cold weather put me off for a very long time, hence only getting back into running over the last few months.
    I believed that I couldn't run. I've proved myself wrong, and I was my harshest critic.

    Anyway, I used to smoke (out here in Dubai everyone does and I was silly enough to join the bandwagon), and whilst you can exercise proficiently if you try, the performance is nowhere near as good as if you don't smoke. In fact, as a smoker you actually need a fag to help you breathe when you're out of breath! Mad. Thank goodness I gave up.

    Nintendo and Playstation have a lot to answer for when it comes to the laziness of the next generation as well.

  • I was very fit at 20, could run 10 miles in an hour without pain but by 26 I was out of breath walking along a coast path. Given long enough sat down from dawn till dusk it is perfectly possible to lose fitness. Equally, the reverse is true - that 20 year-old could be very fit himself within a couple of years.
  • What's a 20 year old doing on a 'work experience' - the best experience, I'd say, would be to find a job!

    Anyway, about the unfit thing - I think that unless you make sport a way of life in childhood (i.e. playing street games, on the local footie team, are lucky enough to have an outdoorsy-type family), it is no wonder that you'd be unfit at age 20. When I was younger, this was exactly the cast amongst my own friends - those of us who were on the school sports teams were fit, and those of us who weren't, weren't. Sad.
  • When I was at secondary school, I'd find every excuse not to do games, but at the same time had a very active lifestyle - I cycled 100+ miles a week, but got absolutely no encouragement from school. For most kids, PE's torture, but if they had the freedom and encouragement to do their own activities, they wouldn't become such lazy 20/30-somethings. Hildegard's right, activity needs to be a way of life as a kid, but it has to be fun.
  • Must say I appreciated my PE teacher. One day as a punishment I was made to play in goal and they, and I, foundI was quite good at it.As a consequence had quite a good career, although not as good as Becks. But running, what was that.
  • Wow, this thread has brought back harsh memories. I was a skinny musical brainbox kid in a backwoods Canadian town in the mountains, where all people cared about was sporting prowess, preferably in games in which you could mash the opponent. Running did not count as a real sport because no blood was spilt.

    Well, PE was the only class in which I could not get A's all the time, but I deduced that if I did not miss a lesson, I would get B's, which was pretty much the case. But every class was humiliation, I was an introvert, and un-coordinated, so screwed up regularly in sports with balls, sticks and racquets. Having to walk a mile and back to school - at altitude - I was a terrific runner, but it didn't count, except to get me away from the bullies who tried to beat me up from time to time.

    I left town for good the day after my graduation, with a fist full of scholarships and an axe to grind. The rest, as they say, is history. The bullies are now overweight couch spuds who could not run me down in a month of Sundays.

    Happy days!

  • I went UNDER hurdles at school
    They would be a bit surprised to seee me now
  • Cor! What a lot of sore memories - I remember my PE teacher - a Mr Glover - who was interested only if you were any good. And I was forced to play rugby - hated it - favourite position was left right out. So there were a helluva lot of us - just think of the silent majority not protesting - Barkles - what would / do kids say now? To be truthful, I only started running when I left school, and I heard an ad on Capital Radio for Today's Runner, and bought it - and got enthused that way when I realised that running was fun.

    The lad lives round the corner from me, I've challenged him to a 3 miler when he's back from Leeds Uni at Christmas, to do within 30 mins (which I think is reasonable - isn't it?) without coughing his guts up and without covering the pavement in dayglo. One or two stops allowed!! Cool? Should I name and shame?

  • Go for it
  • Shame not to shame, so to speak.
  • This thread is telling me two things:
    The messages we take on board as kids and teenagers about our bodies and abilities have a profound effect and
    It is within our power to change that, away from the peer pressure and low teacher/parent expectations that might have put us off then.

    I was a (soon to give up) smoker at 20 and I wouldn't lay all the blame at the door of the tobacco companies. It's what's culturally normal within your family and friends that has the biggest influence. That's why it's incredibly hard to alter people's attitudes to diet, exercise etc. I've overheard my kids and their friends talking about smoking and am so pleased to hear them talk about it as something they can't imagine doing. When I ask whether any of their friends are smoking, it's seems smoking is now definitely associated with underachievement/disadvantaged kids rather than very widespread. Any views on this?
  • Stand up Trevor Crosse!! Actually he's just brought round a bottle of very acceptable vin and also a tenner sponsorship for Cancer Research re upcoming NYCM. So thank you Trevor.

    Laura - I think you're right about culturally acceptable things - it's hard to become something you're not. Was it Betjeman who said that 'your mum and dad really f*6k you up' - I think it's true.

  • Sorry Dad + mum,but youve got a lot to answer for
    I was always known as the non sporty one cos I had my head in a book
    My dad has been very scathing about my running, he even had the audacity to tell me to try and jog at mile 21 of the marathon!!
    However, think hes grudgingly decided to accept that im serious about running, he has sponsored me for the KRUF 10k AND the GNR
    way to go!!
  • 'They f**k you up, your Mum and Dad,
    they may not mean to but they do...'

    - This Be The Verse, by Philip Larkin
  • I found that the trouble with PE teachers was that they didn't actually TEACH you sport. If you were good at it, you got to practice doing what you could already do, and if you weren't good they just sighed and ignored you. In one instance a PE teacher called me a "spastic" which to this day I find incredible.

    I was hopeless at football and rugby at school, and as a result was unfit because nobody wanted me to play. But nobody took the trouble to show me how to play. It's a viscious circle.

    When I started running (I can't remember why I started. To exercise the dog I think.) I discovered it was good to be fit and was actually quite sporty at University (rowing mostly and a bit of social cricket) which would probably have stunned my PE teacher back then. I did well at rowing because it wasn't just assumed that everyone would know how to do it and we were actually coached.

    To all those politicians who mutter about sports in our schools - stop trying to make champions. Don't concentrate all your effort on trying to find the next David Beckham/Paula Radcliffe etc. There are thousands of kids who would actually enjoy their sport, and who'd get up from their playstations/books and run around a bit, if only the teachers would stop concentrating on the kids with natural talent and spend a bit of time on the "spastics" to give them enough skill at sport to have fun and keep fit.

    Okay I'm off the hobby horse now.
  • Welcome to the world of those who were despised by PE teachers, but now love sport.
    Since being written off as a softie who can't play anything I have become a successful cricket coach after a successful 15 yrs playing at a good level, acheived a black belt in martial arts, run a marathon and completed qualifications in sports psychology. If my PE teacher was on fire, would I cross the street to put the fire out?
    What do you think?
    I was never coached, never encourgaed, never made to believe I was anything other than crap.
    What was on my mind the moment I completed FLM.?
    This will show the B*****d.
    Rant over

    I'm nice really!
  • You have your moments!
  • Just touchede a nerve there folks.
    I'm fine

  • You're list of achievements make me look like the southern woose(sic!) I am. If you leave that one thread alone (and you know which one I'm talking about) I might even get to wax lyrical about you.

    PS if they're on fire you could always do what you did in that blokes drive!
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