When you step into a journey back to health it truly is a leap of faith… when I began this I had no idea that I would end up where I am now. I had this idea that I would do the eight week healthy weight programme, and I would be able to walk to the store more comfortably and get on with life a whole lot better. I had no idea that I would be able to run to the store, and a whole lot further. I had no idea that the people around me at the gym would be encouraging me all the way… My goals have gone from just getting moving, to walking 5km, to running 5 km, to running 10 km. I really feel like a new person, this is my chance to do things that I never thought I could do, so right now I am grabbing every opportunity to try new things.
I am going to whisper that running is working quite well… in a lazy, looking forward to the summer holidays kind of a way. I have discovered easy running… I know, don’t fall on the floor laughing, I would never have believed it myself… easy and running are two words that do not actually fit alongside each other. For the last year I have been trying so hard to run… run and run some more, it has been hard, it is not natural for someone who hasn’t exercised in twenty years to get up and run. For the longest time I literally couldn’t run. Once I started running, I began to run further and further, always with the internal pressure “I am so incredibly slow, could I not go just marginally faster.” But since I have managed to run 10 km a couple of times, I am starting to let weekend runs happen and let them be as slow as I like – it is called picking your running partner very carefully. This past weekend, I went for a run with one of my kids, just 8 km in a howling wind, I didn’t look at my watch… just running, it was light and we chatted all the way… no pain, I could have gone on for much longer, in fact it was fun. I think the lesson is, that we are always pushing ourselves to go harder, further, faster… sometimes you just have to stop and appreciate where you are at.
Can I just say that the Fathers and Daughters day was a roaring success, my girls absolutely loved it. While younger kids don’t need a lot of encouragement to get them moving (show them the great outdoors and they are happy to leap around and play all day), my experience has been that when my kids reach tweenagedom, they need a lot more encouragement to keep moving. The need to be cool is much stronger than the need to be healthy. As parents, we need to make exercise look a lot cooler for our kids and the Fathers and Daughters Day at Sport Science was a very cool day for my girls… firstly to spend time with their dad having fun and secondly… all the FUN, FUN, FUN. Kids need to know that gym is a fun place to go, they need to want to go there and they need to have fun when they get there.
Can I just say, it is the tired end of the year, so many activities and so many events, and so much rushing around for parents everywhere. And the one thing that is keeping me sane through the madness is that I have to get to bed on time, because I have to get up and get to gym in the morning. The thing is, gym never ever gets easier, as your fitness improves, so the challenge gets harder, always pushing and always trying just one more level on the weight machines. But I have noticed lately that I am finally starting to add one more weight onto each machine. When it comes to anything with weights, it seems that progress is seriously slow, but I love the challenge. So like everything to do with a journey to health… patience is the key.
Consistency is key, it really is. It is no good having two or three nights of good sleep a week, though that’s better than nothing, you need to consistently stack those sleep hours up. Five minutes on a watt bike every time you go to gym, doesn’t sound like a lot… but I am a lot more comfortable on these bikes than I ever have been because of it. Some weeks I do more, some weeks I don’t… but I stick to my five minutes… it isn’t huge (I know), but it is enough for those times in gym class when we hop on a bike for a bit… instead of doing nothing and hoping the moment passes quickly, I can actually join in. And then there are those 5km Parkruns every Saturday morning, I don’t love them, the route we do is quite a tough one, but I am close to completing 75 of them. Again, they never get easier and I am extremely slow, but the fact that I won’t start my weekend without one, means that I am used to saying to myself: “Just get on with it.” I am always thrilled afterwards, and I have to say, that if we only went running when we felt like running, then I would probably never run.
I have reached a plateau in my running times and on the scale. Last month I decided to abandon the scale, and checked the other day, nothing has changed… this is good news, I thought that by standing on the scale each week I was keeping my weight in check. Turns out it is better consistently eating well and exercising, rather than standing on a scale once a week, that was keeping my weight from increasing again. I am going to abandon the scale for now and focus on running… I think my running would improve and that I would be able to run marginally faster if I was better at giving myself rest days, I have no idea about this thing called recovery, but I need to figure it out. I have running days and I have swimming days, I have hiking days and I have gym days, and a lot of those days overlap. I am not so good at rest days, and I need to figure that out. Otherwise, I think that I would be a better runner if I was more flexible, my stretching skills are zero. I don’t naturally stretch, it has to be a conscious effort, because I would always rather be moving. Basically any stretching I do will be an improvement, I am surely the least flexible person on earth and I know this is something that I need to work on.
There is a sort of a lull in the year, after these past weeks of craziness, everyone is talking about going away and taking time off. Classes will take a break and the last thing I want to do is to take time off moving, so I thought I would create a little challenge for myself. After a couple of months of swimming twice a week, I have gone from swimming 20 to 30 to 40 to 50 lengths in the mornings, it is nothing spectacular… just to and fro and to and fro. I love it, and always come out of the pool feeling energised and ready for a quick weight session afterwards. Last week I had some extra time in the gym and challenged myself to 100 lengths… it was fantastic, I loved it. I think I may look for an easy open water swim later on in the summer. There are fun runs, so surely there must be fun swims, or I can just get some friends together and create one. It has to be in warm water because I don’t have a wetsuit. But just me and my costume swimming along, sounds like a fun summer challenge to me… and one that I would never have dreamed of a year ago!!!
Cover Image Photo Credit: Kathleen Mc Quaide at the SSISA Move4Health 6km