Open Air

It’s been over a year since I last managed a run. It’s hard to get my head round that fact especially as up to that point I would go trail running at least 3 times a week, every week.

But here’s the thing.

Do I miss the blisters – NO.

Do I miss the aches and pains – NO.

Do I miss having a face that you could fry and egg on – NO

Do I miss running up hill – MOST CERTAINLY NOT.

But I miss the feeling of open air and wow I miss the views.

Vegetate

I’ve been trying to practice yoga and tai chi for months now. I diligently watch and follow the videos. All the really glossy and professional videos. I was trying again this morning. Following the instructor through her perfect routine. Even her dog sits beside her perfectly. Never moving. In the background the gentle sound of peaceful music. Perfect.

Meanwhile in deepest Yorkshire.

A muppet is seamlessly moving from one body creak to the next groan. Losing balance and crashing into furniture. Constantly fearing my pants are going to split under the galactic pressure being exerted on them. Every time I hit the ground a mad dog instantly leaps on me and I replay the Bill Murray Ghostbusters scene – I’VE BEEN SLIMED. And no gentle sound of peaceful music here. Rather the sound of derision and laughter….

What on earth are you doing Dad”

“If this was on TV it would be banned”

“You look a right sight

Funnier than a Will Ferrell movie

Say that again Dad. Golden Rooster. More like drunken Pigeon

Are you supposed to be balancing on one leg or head butting the wall

My Dad has turned into Homer Simpson”

Please never do this when any of my friends visit”

Your just embarrassing yourself now”

Technically speaking this probably means that I still have a long way to go on my spiritual exercise journey. Or more likely …. time to get the mega pack of biscuits out and vegetate.

Biathlon

I’ve always loved winter sports. Definitely my favourites are biathlon, ski jumping, skiing and ski cross. One of my dreams is to see it in person one day. Still waiting….. November to March is great as I get to binge watch it on TV. But when March comes it’s always quite sad as soon the season will be over. No winter sports for 7 months.

That thought has been praying on my mind. 7 months is a long time. What to do.

I’ve looked for some Winter Sports DVDs and Books but there isn’t much about. So I have a stock pile of 3 books and one dvd documentary. Plus one game on the Xbox. The probability of our family lockdown continuing through those 7 months is really high. With no trips out. No runs. Just feels like I need more this year to keep me going.

“Dad what are you doing?”

I’m trying to see if I can do GARDEN biathlon.

Really. It looks like you have gone mad…”

No there is method to my madness. I’ve dug out my two old walking poles. So to pretend I’m Nordic skiing I’m going to use the poles to walk round and round the garden. About 30 times round the garden is about 1km.

Ok how long is a biathlon thing then”

Going to start small first. The Spring is 10km with two shoots. So I would do 100 laps of the garden between shoots.

I think I can see what’s coming next but ok, why have you got my Nerf Gun.”

Well after 100 laps of the garden my pulse will be racing just like a Biathlete. So I will need to control my breathing and steady myself for the shoot. Ok I don’t have a rifle and five circular targets. So I’m putting some tins on the fence and I’m going to try and knock them over with your foam Nerf bullets. For every miss I will have to do a penalty loop or in my case 5 garden loops. The first shoot will be prone and the second will be standing.

OMG Dad. You have cracked.”

So from April one of my daily workouts every week will be my Biathlon competition.

“You have lost the plot”

Most probably Son, most most probably. But just be thankful I’m not trying to recreate Ski Jumping. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£

Man of action

That’s as good as the weather has been in days. Apparently there is still blue sky up there.

I like to still see myself as a MAN OF ACTION. Unbounded reserves of energy. Chiselled, carved out of granite, built like Thor. I do try lots of exercise. Increasingly heavy weights and kettlebells. More and more sit-ups, press-ups and planks.

Sadly the reality is some what different.

Permanently feeling tired, trying not to nod off. A constant battle with my weight. A body more Homer Simpson’s than Superhero. AND I strongly suspect that any self respecting MAN OF ACTION won’t have Pirate George on his duvet cover.

The secrets out now…

Posture

This time last year exercise was so easy. Didn’t need to think about it. Chuck some kettlebells about and then go running in the hills. Happy days.

Then the pandemic happened. Anxiety and fears of my son brought the walls up. Suddenly we were housebound. Running stopped.

So now it’s chucking a kettlebell about and things like yoga. It’s not easy anymore. Not just running in the direction of my nose anymore. Need to think about things. Lots of things…

  • Are the feet, hips and shoulders in line,
  • Imagine the feet sinking into the ground, a great base,
  • Am I correctly rooted,
  • Is the back straight,
  • Am I controlling my breathing,
  • Am I extending that hip opener,
  • Is this an up dog or a down dog,
  • Is my neck extended,
  • Have I just done a clockwise or anticlockwise circle with my knee,
  • Which is my left leg again,
  • Is that my knee clicking,
  • How am I going to get out of this knot,
  • Have I done my 3 minutes in the tree pose yet,
  • Remember to lower my back one vertebrae at a time,
  • Do I bring my feet together, hip wide or wider,
  • What on earth is a virabhadrasana II,
  • Is my bum tensed,
  • Don’t forget to say namaste….

If the thinking was bad enough what about the pain. Never again will I ever moan about a muddy hill climb. The agony of a delicious hip opener. The dizziness of my head being below my buttocks. The shooting pain from holding my entire and not insignificant weight on just two dodgy old wrists for a torturous crow. The brain shakes that come from yet another extended plank. That soul destroying feeling that hits you when after suffering 5 minutes of a triangle pose you here the words ‘and now for the left side’.

So yes I really do miss the good old days of just running.

What is it with me

Parents do need to relax sometimes….

I’m starting to get a complex. My Tai Chi and Yoga are under attack. Serious attack.

So yesterday I talked about who a delivery man rudely interrupted me in full ‘Golden Rooster one one leg’ mode. Well it escalated today.

The back gate was wedged shut with the bin. No delivery man is getting to see me strut my stuff today. All was going well. I was just getting my breathing in sync with my inner spirit. He chi was flowing nicely on my yoga mat. All was good as I gracefully performed ‘White Crane Spreads Wing’.

Then a hooligan pack of Birds flew over the garden. An unprovoked bombing run. One of the little blighters scored a direct hit on my once blue yoga mat.

My inner moment was gone. Is it just me!!!! I don’t see this happening to the likes of Adriene on her videos from Texas.

Maybe it’s much safer to sit with a mug of coffee and watch the sun go down. Under an umbrella just in case.

Wet, wet, wet

Wet, wet, wet.

This happened the other day. Have you had those moments in life when you think you are on top of things. In the zone. Finally mastering life. When in fact you have just walked off the edge. Living a complete nightmare. From hero to zero in an instant…..

I was out in the back garden. Working out on the patio. I had completed my weights and kettlebell routine. Smashed through 20 minutes CrossFit. Seemingly on top of my game. Unusually feeling good. Feeling so good I decided to enrich the soul with a few minutes of Tai Chi. I was at one with nature. Feeling the Chi surge round my body. Stress levels plummeting. Performing beautifully the ‘Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg’ move. AND SUDDENLY a manly cough behind me.

“Excuse me mate where do you want your parcel leaving”

I could see the smirk on the delivery guy stood 3 yards behind me. How long had he been stood there. The shame. The butt of jokes in the pub tonight (good job they are closed). Stress levels through the roof.

Don’t you just love life……

Wilderness

One of my sister lives about 30 minutes drive in that direction. During 2020 it might as well have been 1000 miles. No chance of seeing her.

Where we live always feels like it’s so cut off from the world. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget that a city is not that far a drive away. It’s one of those rare cities that hasn’t allowed any high rise buildings. It hides easily away on the horizon.

That feeling of being cut off is helped by lack of kinks we have with the outside world. If you don’t want to use the car then it’s two small buses a day. Nothing on a Sunday. The village doesn’t have a pub, or cafe, or school, or shop. Not quite tumbleweed levels but definitely quiet and often feeling most definitely cut off. During a pandemic even the occasional rambler has become a real rarity. The only evidence that an outside world still exists is the fairly regular stream of passing cyclists. The challenge of climbing the steep hill to the village is attractive to those on two wheels. A climb I’ve not undertaken since a few weeks before the world changed for me in 2016.

A lots happened in those years. Thoughts of needing a sportier frame have morphed into ‘that ornament gathering dust is taking up too much space in the increasingly cramped garage’.

But things will change eventually. We won’t seem so cut off again. The bike will again become a means of transport. Trips to the city and my sister will recommence. Life will become connected again. Even for those living in the wilderness……

Tai Chi for Lego

Stress, anxiety, nerves.

For years the best tool I had to combat these pesky fellas was running. Lots of it. It almost became a daily fix for this bumbling muppet. But 2020 has completely curtailed that. So I strive for my new Excalibur.

The three best candidates so far are

Winning the lottery (still working on that, I guess it would help if I bought a lottery ticket),

Yoga,

Tai Chi.

So in reality it’s down to the later two candidates. It’s early days, we may need a few more recounts but it might be time to call a result. As ever my buddies the Mini Lego figures are keen to help out.

So I started out feeling a little unsure of myself but a few Scooby snacks encouraged me to give both mindfulness exercise regimes a go.

The first thing is that both approaches do require some comfy clothes. But it says nothing about how stylish for those have to be. You can get seriously creative. Maybe lime green circle shorts, or maybe something pinky purple or maybe something royally outrageous.

Both Yoga and Tai Chi do require you to commit to them. It takes much practice to master them. Balance is one thing you need to master. Although beards are not essential on the mat they may in fact help with balance and stability. False beards are available for those who can’t grow them…..

One thing you will notice is that both approaches have their own unique languages. Requests to perform a ‘bound lotus’ or ‘parting the wild horses main’ will frequently leave you with not the slightest ScoobyDoo of what is going on.

Then we come to the instructors. Be aware here. They start out sounding like your new best buddy but be careful. Look at some of the positions they bend you into – they must have a secret dark side.

Then we come to the end results. Well with dedication then just like Frankie both can be real body builders.

Are they good anxiety and stress busters? Yes if you find the right instructor. Find the wrong one and Tai Chi will leave you seriously red in the face as you try to master the meditative breathing routines.

Which actually is much better than Yoga which can definitely release the inner anger when you get painfully stuck in the Formidable Face Pose.

And finally the big difference I noticed between the two approaches to body and soul health. With Tai Chi I feel like I am still in one piece after completing a session.

Unfortunately the same can not be said for yoga. Often after one to many ‘nice detoxifying hip openers’ I feel something akin to this….

And please remember that for whatever exercise you opt for please be mindful of others and maintain effective social distancing.

Namaste….

Tai Chi

From a time when running was still an option for me. This photo was taken a year ago. Who would have thought that a year later I would be looking at this view as something so precious. I ran this trail on my last run which was back in March. No sign of running here any time soon. Wonder if anything has changed?

8 months without a run. I can’t believe that. 8 months.

I was thinking how much I missed it. Running was good for me. Apart from the fitness element it also was good for my soul. A wonderful stress buster. But I guess as one door closes another opens. Who would have thought that I would become a regular yoga dude. And quite enjoy it. Not as much as running but let’s give it time.

And now there is something else.

Tai Chi

Yep I’ve started doing that as well now. It’s basically yoga without falling over….. Let’s see how it goes. Its going to be fun. It’s something different. I definitely feel like a Tai Chi lego figure guide will be coming soon…..

These are odd times. The old normal has stopped. We just have to adapt. Find ways to do more than just survive. Need to keep living.

Find new ways to run.