Wean myself off

This was last year. One hour into my trail run. Apart from missing the exercise I hope you can see why I miss running free.

Eventually you have to accept reality.

Hawklad’s anxieties are still rising. More routine tasks are becoming more difficult for him. He can largely control the dynamics within our house and garden. Lots of washing, extensive quarantining of items and being careful what he touches. He is ok within his castle walls. He is not ok with me venturing out.

Beyond those walls and that’s a completely different world. An alien, dangerous world to him. His doctors are clear – this will take a very long time to start to address. It’s not going to start happening until a pandemic is well behind us and as one of our leading scientists pointed out – with a fair wind we may start returning to something like normal life at the end of 2021. That’s assuming the new vaccines work and roll out soon….

So for me the reality is that our personal lockdown will likely stretch through 2021 as well. My mindset has to change. Away from getting through the next few months TO living the much longer new reality.

So back to the photograph. Running has become a bit of a drug for me. Now I have to completely wean myself off that. I’m nearly there as it’s been so long without it. Time to permanently replace it with other things.

Route tracking

Just about a year ago I had just dropped Hawklad off at school and about an hour later was running along this country lane while listening to rock music. Another 4 miles and I would be back home. Then it would be a cup of full fat caffeine and then get stuck into work until it was time to pick Hawklad back up again. How times have changed.

No trips to school, no work, no trail running, no caffeine and the MP3 player has not been used since March.

Since then the only running has been a couple of attempts at running round the garden. It’s not a big garden. Each lap lasted lasted less than 10 seconds. Who could forget the marvellous route map from one of those epics…

These days running has been replaced with yoga and tai chi. Or as we like to call them.

Falling over and Falling over with added style.

No need to track my route on those activities. Today I accidentally did track my route for yoga and tai chi…..

That’s kind of worrying as I was supposed to be staying on my small yoga mat. Maybe my tracker is not as accurate as I had hoped for. But I suspect a faulty tracker will not be an issue going forward really. Can’t see too many runs happening this side of Easter. But that’s ok. There are much more important things to worry about. And today I quite enjoyed Falling over and Falling over with style. Kind of felt like I was summoning up a bit of my inner Dr Strange. Maybe there is something to this yoga and tai chi thing.

Groundhog Day again…

The weather is a bit stuck here.

This is basically it…..

Feeling stuck is often not a great feeling. Today I feel must definitely stuck. Stuck in Groundhog Day. It feels like that….

  • I tend to wake up at the same time and experience the familiar tiredness,
  • Sling open the curtains to see mist, greyness and everything dripping wet,
  • I get Hawklad up in the same way and set him up as usual for the home at school project,
  • The home at school hours pass in the same way. The same lessons requiring the same input. The usual lessons delivering the usual frustrations,
  • I cook Hawklad the usual food, repeating the same 7 day food cycle every week,
  • Every day looking over the fence and wondering what it would feel like to run free. Then shrugging my shoulders and start moaning about the weather,
  • The feeling of going round in circles during my exercise workouts. I tried to introduce yoga to freshen it up. But it’s often just the same poses performed in a slightly different order,
  • Spending ages trying to get the never ending cycle of washing to be semi dried on the radiators,
  • Opening up the work laptop and finding nothing in the to do list,
  • Listening to the same news. The same world problems. The same self deluded madmen hogging the headlines. The same lies,
  • Going through the same quarantine procedures with post and deliveries,
  • Feeling the same frustration with hobbies. As hard as I try to learn German and the Piano, each day I seem to be back at square one again,
  • Going round in circles trying to get the support Hawklad needs to truly flourish. Failing and then trying to provide that support in my untrained, and rather random way,
  • Realising it’s another day isolated,
  • Venturing out at night to hopefully look at the stars to only find the mist has turned into heavy rain,
  • Trying to keep myself awake during the evening movie then finding sleep escaping me as we move beyond midnight.

Definitely feels like Groundhog Day.

But here’s the hope. Just like in the wonderful Bill Murray movie it is still possible to break the cycle eventually. Just got to keep trying. Forcing myself to experiment with what alternatives are available. Remembering the good dreams. Yes one day 6.00am will bring a truly new start.

The road ahead

The road ahead is probably not musical. Bit early to dream of being a concert pianist. Just completed my first free online piano lesson. I fired up our very dusty and unused electronic keyboard and was ready to become the new Rachmaninov or Jon Lord.

Suddenly I had a flash back memory. I was at a funeral and my brother was sat behind me. During the service someone played a piano piece. After a minute of the ivory tickling my brother learnt forward and whispered in my ear. “He’s no bloody Rick Wakeman….”. I’d forgotten about that. That comment very nearly made me laugh out loud. Not great in a crematorium.

Twenty minutes later and my musical career is just dust in the wind. Clearly I can only operate one finger at a time. What’s the point of having two hands? Especially when one section of the song I was supposed to be learning, apparently an easy starter song, required what appeared to be a person with 11 fingers. Let’s just say it went badly.

So yes I may have produced music which sounded something like Donald Trump when he’s forced to release his tax returns. But that’s not the point. I did something which distracted me for a while. Yes it was frustrating but ultimately something that I enjoyed doing. Importantly something I can do from home during our enforced family lockdown.

So yes the road ahead may not be particularly tuneful but at least it has another hobby to entertain me. That gives me hope.

Family History

I was checking my phone for a photo for the blog and I came across this one. Yes Hawklad has been playing Pokémon Go again. Either that or my last selfie was a bit of a shocker.

I am listening to a cheery Pearl Jam cd and thinking about family history. For a lesson today he is trying to list some of his family tree. It’s easy with my partner as we can go back at least 300 years. Lots of documented history. Long line of Quaker and Liberal Political tradition. An MP. With mine it’s more patchy. Yes we can go back to someone born in 1805 but there are lots of blanks. Someone who refereed a big national football semifinal. Someone who walked on the Jarrow Poverty March. A female relative who went to be an exotic dancer in London at the turn of the last century. Someone who was gassed in World War One and survived. An uncle of mine who was a pilot during the Korean War. My Dad who fell in love with Iceland while serving during World War Two. But that’s about it. So many gaps.

So as Hawklad thinks about being partly English, Welsh, Scottish and German (maybe even more diverse), I have a new project. Time to try and fill in some of these family gaps. I owe that to my son.

It’s so important that we keep our own history alive because it forms a narrative to how we are.

You

This was a year ago. I stopped on one of my long runs to take this photo. It would have been just after 9am and Hawklad would have been in school. After the run was finished I would then drag my muddy body to the supermarket. Definitely seems like an eternity ago. I wonder when I will go running here again. Probably not in 2020.

We all need those things in life to hold on to. A person, a friendship, a love, faith, a hobby, a destination. It will be different for everyone. Maybe it’s one thing. Maybe it’s a range of things. But we do need these in our worlds. For our health and wellbeing. I remember listening to a politician who I really respected. He talked about his love of hill walking. How walking had become such an important part of his life. But he was sad because due to work demands he had been forced to stop something he loved so much. Tragically it didn’t work out for him and his life was cut short. We do need to hold onto these things which lift us up. We all need to find the time. Listen to what our inner selves are telling us and needing from us. Hold onto and treasure those things and people we love.

So running has gone. I’ve found better more enriching things to focus and care for. But I realise that I do need a fitness activity to replace running. Ultimately the exercise bike is monumentally boring. So at present running has been replaced with yoga. Briefly stopping to take a photo has been replaced with failing to get anywhere near holding a handstand. Happy Days. I feel another lego yoga post coming on. You have been warned.

Joking to one side, please remember to find the time for YOU. You need that.

What are you doing…

What are you doing…..

This morning’s workout was cold, breezy and often damp. It’s odd. If I had been running across the fields, I would quite enjoy those conditions. It makes me feel so alive, help blow the cobwebs away. But when I’m restricted to the garden. When I’m trying to do push-ups and throw a kettlebell about – it’s not fun, not fun at all.

So why do I do it?

The obvious reason is fitness. Another key reason is that I need to stay as fit as I can (for as long as I can) for our Son. When he wants a game of football, I don’t want to be found wanting. He doesn’t have friends in the village to pass that responsibility on to.

But there is another reason for being cold and wet while trying to lift weights above my head. It’s very like my Dad and gardening….

Dad left this world many years ago. In the end it was a blessing as he was clearly in pain. The things he enjoyed doing were now beyond him. One of which was gardening. He would spend hours outside or in his greenhouse. Regardless of the weather he would be gardening. I can see him in the pouring rain, clearly cold and very wet finding some plant related task to complete. He would go out stressed and clearly not happy with life. A few hours later he would return relaxed and smiling. Yes he would often rush to the fire to try and warm up, but he was in a much better place than he had been.

Dad clearly struggled with his life. Pretty sure with depression. He suffered in silence. Talking about the D word was just not the thing to be done in those days. One of the few things that worked for him was gardening. It was his release. The thing that could help release the demons. His medicine. That’s why he went out in all weathers.

Exercise is my release. Whether that’s trail running, hill walking, weight lifting, cycling, CrossFit…. that’s my medicine. Sometimes activities like climbing have to stop, but they get replaced. It’s my daily release. It’s an anchor to help maintain life balance. People like The Rock have talked about this better than I ever will. We are all different. What works for me may not work for you. I guess we all have to find our thing, that activity which becomes the anchor. Maybe that is sport, maybe it’s writing, or music or knitting or cooking or gardening. Whatever it is, we need to find it. We then need to find the time to do it. That’s why tomorrow morning, whatever the weather is like, you will find me outside, running round the garden. Yes it might look odd but it makes perfect sense to me.

Grounded

Getting older is great for your body. I wish I could have my body from when I was 30. Hang on it was buggered then, just dislocated my shoulder playing football. I wish I had my body from when I was 25. Hang on I had just dented my rib cage playing cricket. I wish I had my body from when I was 20. Hang on I had just cracked my skull open playing rugby. I wish I had Thor’s body from before the Endgame.

Playing contact sport is basically bad for you.

Since the world changed I have focused on our son. But that is not completely sustainable. You do need to find time for yourself. If only to help manage stress levels. My anchor has been fitness and home workouts. Thirty minutes a day as a minimum. It worked until I realised I needed to stop myself becoming completely housebound. Couldn’t afford a gym so it was running. Again it worked well. But then the buggered body caught up with me again. So until a physiotherapist can have a look at me I am banned from running and weightlifting.

So the two things which have kept me sane over the last couple of years have suddenly become unavailable. Hopefully temporarily but you never know.

So I need to find something – a new anchor. But what? Climbing but that is far too risky and we are short of mountains round here. Cycling and walking would be good options but time constraints limit their appeal. Maybe not a sport then. Shockingly it might have to be a hobby.

  • Yoga – good for stress but I have the balance of a drunk three legged mountain goat
  • Dedicate time for reading – that could work, keep moaning about not reading enough
  • Write a book – possibly a cook or baking book….
  • Astronomy – time at night is a premium plus this is Yorkshire otherwise known as Cloudsville.
  • Birdwatching – another possible option and might meet others (even if they have feathers and a beak)
  • Learn another language – the nearest classes are many miles away and learning languages other than English will probably be outlawed after Brexit
  • Photography – only available camera is on my battered many years old iPhone
  • Gardening – who am I kidding, I am a plant mass murderer
  • Gaming – certainly not stress relieving
  • Painting – even messed up a paint by numbers Mona Lisa
  • Learn to play an instrument – would find a use for that keyboard I bought our son as a present, the one he asked for which apparently was supposed to be a gaming keyboard
  • Knitting – my knitting skills are only matched by my baking skills
  • Tree Shaping – we only have two small trees
  • Extreme Ironing – far too dangerous for me

So many options to ponder over. I will find a hobby. I have to if I’m going to pull this single parenting gig off. Asked our son and he helpfully suggested

Does sleeping count as a hobby”