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.

A year

Still just too grotty for a daily photo so it’s back a year again…..

It’s kinda sobering that this photo is taken only 2 miles from our house. On what was one of my most well used running trails. Probably ran here twice a week as a minimum. Well over a decade of running. It’s a year to the day since I last was here……

I wonder when I will return.

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.

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.

Hibernation

A brief few minutes of decent weather before the next wave of wet and windy ‘yuk’ arrives. It’s good to get outside to breathe even if it only for a short while. Having said that. Try telling that to a dog. A dog who has taken one look at the weather and decided to hibernate inside. Can’t blame him really. Cold wet grass or playing with a toy on the sofa. Not really a tough call.

I remember after my partner died that I felt like hibernating. Straight after a death you are constantly forced out to sort out death certificates, funeral arrangements, banks, legal stuff, family, friends and acquaintances (many you have no idea who they are). It’s the last thing you want to do but you just have to. But then after your back from the funeral it starts to change. The requirements to venture out start to diminish. In my case I had to quit my job to become a single parent. Apart from the school run and shopping, no need to go out. And that’s what I did. Started to hibernate. But home wasn’t a warm and safe nest. It felt cold, empty and scary. But hibernate I did.

I was lucky. For some reason one day I went for a run. Suddenly running was ok. I could avoid people and venture out. It helped break the spell of that lifeless house. Mile after mile running and listening to music. It was a start. I was outside more. Starting to breathe again. People would come later. And yes a mad dog would arrive to bring life back to the house. So yes I will grant the mad one a bit of hibernation. He’s earned that.

Lopsided

I sometimes worry that you think I’m a little drunk some days. The photos might look a little slanted. In my defence I have been tea total for years and struggling to get straight photos is down to living in the hills. Or maybe it’s because I tend to just be one second away from tripping over.

One of the highlights of the week these days is taking the car for a little run out. It doesn’t like sitting doing nothing. It seizes up and battery has a habit of going flat. Sounds a bit like me….. So once a week I take it for a 5 minute drive. Just along a few of our narrow country lanes. Most of them like this one are not wider enough for two cars. No motorways here.

Hawklad won’t currently come with me. Doesn’t feel comfortable enough. No point pushing that. He said that he will try to come with me starting in November. He stays at home hence it’s only a 5 minute trip. When I get back it’s time for full decontamination to keep him happy.

I thought I would take a photo of this one particular stretch of lane. It’s a favourite of mine. I would frequently run down here on my longer pre pandemic runs. Why is it a favourite?

It’s relatively flat. No ups and downs. Here that is such a lovely feeling. But even here I can’t get a truly level picture. But I will settle for this. At least I’m not falling over. Yet.

Sitting down

I must have run past this monument well into a three figure number. Lots of times. I wonder when will be the next run here? 2021? 2022? or later.

Without running I’ve switched to more CrossFit and Yoga. I can definitely see a few more muscles but I’m not sure how far I could run now. It’s been many many months since I last put on my running shoes. My joints would definitely need a good oiling before I tried.

Today’s yoga was definitely interesting. 10 minutes of doing what appeared to be a simple task. Standing up from a cross legged position without using my hands. The standing up bit was ok, it was the getting down bit which was the challenge. How hard can it possibly be to go from standing up to sitting on the floor with my hands behind my back. Humpty Dumpty comes to mind. Give me running any day please. I can do that. But I guess over the coming months I will get the chance to improve. Not sure my bottom can cope with the bruises for that length of time.

We had two deliveries and the postman this morning. It’s unsettling for me to see each person arrive at the door fully masked up. Imagine what it does to someone fighting fears about germs and bugs. It really did spook Hawklad. Should really say spooked him even more. My job over the week is to rig up a post box outside to stop letters coming through the front door. Another thing that increasingly bothers Hawklad. As these anxieties continue to grow he becomes more clingy with me. His health professional has told me that his fears are so ingrained that they may not start to ease until this pandemic is under control and the vaccine has been rolled out and proven to be effective.

A clear time frame is starting to emerge on our lockdown. This is going well into 2021, maybe longer. That has huge implications for school, my work and our quality of life. Quality of life in the sense that our world will be the house and garden for the foreseeable future.

Running is not happening so I had better start to learn new skills. Skills like not collapsing in a heap when I try to get onto the floor without using my hands.

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.

Yoga, I want some words….

If only sitting with a nettle tea and looking at a beautiful flower was classed as exercise….

Who invented yoga? Really! Who invented that medieval form of torture. I want words with them. The glossy brochures are so enticing.

Wonderful for posture

Stress busting

A pick me up for the soul

Strengthens the mind

Improves confidence

Recover your flexibility

Builds strength and a strong heart

Anyone can do it

Fun

Feel your anxiety ebb away

So what actually is the reality. What happens when YOGA meets a Yorkshire Bloke who is trying to figure out if he is Man or MUPPET….

So the iPad was fired up. A random yoga app was selected. The advanced 50 minute session selected. Surely being an experienced runner, CrossFit, weights, climbing, cycling superhero must count for something. For a start having an instructor who speaks in English would help. Whispering terms like Chaturanga Dandasana and Shalabhasana is just going to get a blank look in Yorkshire. Secondly can we not have an instructor who has the flexibility of Elastigirl. I’m not getting in those positions EVER, not even with scaffolding and a construction team.

50 minutes of basically hearing my body crack and creak. What are the official yoga terms for ‘that pigging hurts’, ‘are you kidding me’, ‘oh no I’m falling over’, and ‘I’m stuck’. Elastigirl, you try relaxing in the plank position when a dog is washing your face and the cat is scratching your heel. And while I’m on with it, Elastigirl my heel has never been designed to touch the back of my head – strangely my backbone makes that a physical impossibility. Lying on my back with my feet in the air might be doing something for my posterior but it’s playing havoc with my acid reflux. Where’s the warning to not get too close to glass windows when you try to balance on one leg while trying to get into the Superman flying position. It’s so far been beyond me to get into one position without farting…. Yes I can hold that press-up position for as long as you want but do you know the agony I’m in trying to hold a position which is basically me tied up in a knot. In fact most of the positions I’ve been instructed to hold while relaxing have quickly deteriorated into violent twitching and shaking episodes.

So yes I want serious words with the person who invented yoga. Tomorrow I’m going back to CrossFit training and weights. Those will now feel like an absolute delight. All that’s to yoga.