I got a shock today when I groaned to my gym guru Dave Dunne, about how quickly I lost my fitness (about 3 weeks) after being ill last month. As I strained to lift weights that wouldn’t have cost me a thought before Christmas, I asked if it was going to take 3 weeks to get my strength back. To my horror, Dave informed me that it would take double that. I asked if I could speed that up by exercising harder and more frequently, and he warned me that I’d only weaken myself, slow my recovery, and end up in a worse state than I am now. Now that all came as a suprise, although I vaguely heard my consultant saying something like that weeks ago… ahem. But I want my fitness back and I want it NOW. I’m prepared to work extra hard to do it, but according to Dave, I have to take it slow and just wait for it to happen. OK, I see some sense in that, but it seems very unfair. Six weeks to pay for 3, and that’s over two months gone out of the year. Grrrr….
Dave did say that I could cross-train. So I’m going to the gym 2/3 times a week, going to hot yoga 2/3 times a week, cycling to work, and tomorrow I start running at Le Cheile in Leixlip. Wish me luck – I’m not sure about the running….
PS…I bought a new bicycle jacket today. It’s hi-vis and it’s PINK…. Growing up with two big brothers, I never admitted this girly side of me before, it’s only emerged since I hit my 40’s… I don’t really need a new jacket, but if I’m honest I put on a few pounds when I was off sick, and my old bike-jacket feels a bit snug when I wear a fleece under it. After 10 mins cycling I’m sweating like a thoroughbred winning the national (I wish) but the first 10 minutes have been painfully cold these dark winter mornings. I think I’d be willing to put up with the nuisance of stopping to layer down, if I got to be nice and snug heading out. That’s the plan anyhow. I also bought a nice, light, silk balaclava, to slip under my cycle-helmet. So now I can prevent ear-chill as I head out to work in the morning – and rob a bank on the way home, to pay for all this new gear and training… 😉
I’ve been taking it easy since I got back from Uganda. Well, I’ve been going to the gym twice a week and gym guru David has increased the weights I’m lifting, so at least I’m getting some good workouts in between the naughty bits. The naughty bits include a recent trip to Germany to visit friends, which saw me go to the spa, walk in a snowy forest, and consume enough sausage, bread, pastry, cheese and red wine, to keep me going right across Christmas!
I’ve had a bevy of parties already, and the 98FM Radio Christmas Party is on this Friday – but then I’m off to Kerry on Saturday with my bike, and I’ll be camping, cycling, horse-riding, rock climbing and hiking on Carrauntoohil – weather dependent. While the following weekend, I’m off to horseride again at Flowerhill, near Portumna in Galway. I reckon it’s about 15 miles from Ballinasloe train station, so again I think I’ll make things interesting and take the bike. Since Uganda, I’ve changed the way I think about the bike. It was a training tool, cycling in and out to work (30k round trip) in a bid to work up strength for the Africa tri-adventure with Concern. But after cycling over 200k from Mt Elgon to the Nile, I now feel very self-sufficient having the bike with me as a means of transport. Weather doesn’t matter – you just dress for the weather. Have wheels, have freedom!
You know, I guess the secret to keeping fit over Christmas is to find things to do with friends that are active and fun. I started writing this blog with a sense of aplogy for being lazy, but when I look at all the stuff I’ve got planned, I realise I’m actually planning quite an active festive holiday. Gosh it’s so good to have a body that will let me do this stuff. Three years ago I was trapped in my own personal 23-stone prison. It’s not with triumph but with gratefulness and hope that I realise I tore down those prison walls, pound by pound, with my own bare hands – and so many more of us can do the same. The biggest escape since Alcatraz!
The fun really starts in 2013. I’m hosting a new television programme with Athena Media and Setanta, which aims to get people all around the country to join me and seek out a new life of adventure in the great outdoors. The word spread quickly in Dublin and there’s been a huge response, but we’re trying to reach people outside my beloved Dublin too. So if you know someone who you think might like to “Get Off The Couch”. Tell them to get in touch with Rob@athenamedia.ie.
Who are we looking for? People like me who never thought they could be active or sporty, but had a secret curiosity about how that might feel. People who I can encourage to come with me and discover the great outdoors, with the help of some amazing sports enthusiasts who are willing to share their passion for life and sport. I want to open a door and invite people to come through like I did, and feel the breeze and the sun on their face and the taste of salt on their lips and…. and…
15k on the bike into work today, the bike that was held together with cable-ties and WD40 (or whatever you call that stuff in the blue can)…. anyhow, it bust at the last bend, so it’s now with the bike doctor, where it should have been since last week, if I’d had my priorities right! Anyhow, I had wet cycling shorts and top and jacket from cycling in, the waterproof bike panier failed it’s shop-bought promises and delivered up damp clothes for wearing in the office, and pretty soggy gym clothes for later. Never mind, they all steamed up nicely once I started lifting weights. Hadn’t been in the gym for a week because of pulling a ligament in my thumb – and isn’t it amazing how loathesome the gym is, when you’ve had a break away from it?
I walked home from the gym (because the bike is at the bike doctor) got wet, changed again, had dinner, then jogged to a meeting in the local village. It was dry when I started, but coming back was a different matter. I will in future know what I’m talking about when I read on the news about ‘surface water on the road’. It means there’s a 4-foot pond on either side that you need to wade across when crossing the road. It also means there’s a sunami heading your way, whenever the lights change and the city-slicker 4-wheel drives hit 1st gear… ah well. I’m warm and dry now, and satisfied after eating a salad and resisting the urge for a dirty big curry that would have made me feel better, but ruined all the work I put into training today. Polish the halo and tune into the weather forecast. Quack, Quack, Quack….
To Train or Not to Train? I suppose that’s the question that leads to damnation? and I suppose the only way to get back on the horse is just do it!
The combination of a sprained wrist, a tummy bug and a broken bike saw me slack off training for the last couple of days. Monday I was just too sick and my wrist couldn’t hold weight, Tuesday wasn’t much better, so the body demanded – and got – a couple of ‘rest’ days, with cancelled gym sessions, cancelled kayaking and cancelled biking in and out to work. BUT… the rot continued yesterday, when visiting friends and sheer laziness combined to see me cancelling rock-climbing and yoga.
ENOUGH. The sun is out, and I hate going to the gym when it’s bright and shiny outside – but gym it is, and then I’m back on the river for kayaking lesson number 5 tonight with the gang from Wild Water Kayak Club. I’m refusing to let myself think of all the reasons why I don’t want to go to the gym… and I’ll let you know how I feel afterwards, when I know I’ll be thrilled that I went.
Onwards and upwards, one foot in front of the other…. etc.