On rowing at midnight

I have a rowing machine.

I bought it on a whim when I bought my aquarium. Not necessarily an obvious connection but they were both second hand and being sold by the same family. And I’d already borrowed the van.

It’s not especially good quality. It’s not, according to my brother who actually rows, a bit like real rowing, not even a bit like using a ‘proper’ rowing machine.

I don’t really care. It’s something that fits into my bedroom, something that requires all of my body to work to make it work, something that I don’t have to go anywhere to use. Something I can do by myself, whenever I want to do it.

When I got it a year and a half ago, I started doing a very few strokes per ‘session’, building up until I reached 200, or occasionally 250, depending on how I felt. (people usually row for a set time (or distance) and count the strokes (or time) needed..).

Last year I rowed almost every day until about June. Then I went away and the habit broke. I think it probably ‘helped’ that it was approximately a million degrees here for a lot of the summer and just existing was enough to cause severe sweating.

Between June and November the rowing machine disappeared under several boxes of ‘Things to put on ebay’ and ‘Things to sort through’ and ‘Things I really need to deal with soon’. I probably rowed 5 times.

In late November / early December I claimed my bedroom back. The boxes were sent to the sitting room or the cellar. Some were properly dealt with.

The freed up rowing machine demanded attention. I started with 100 strokes. Half my old normal. I could have carried on but decided to quit while I was still able to choose to (i.e. before I fell off).

The day after was horrible. I ached everywhere. I carried on with my reacquaintance through and got back up to 150 daily strokes by the time I headed home for Christmas.

This year I’m trying to continue with the habit of rowing every day.

Yesterday was my first full day back in Germany. I got in after midnight and didn’t get up until after midday. Then I went out for lunch and to buy new pedals for my bike and to pick up a new notice board.

The evening disappeared in a fuzzy haze of transferring pictures from my phone onto the computer and starting to tackle the backlog of housey things – like going through the pile of post, emptying the fridge and cleaning the sink – while waiting for the computer to do its thing.

I intended to go to bed early.

I could pave a lot of roads with all my intentions (good or otherwise).

As I finally brused my teeth I realised that I hadn’t rowed yet. It was 4 minutes to midnight. I don’t feel resolutions are unbreakable, but I prefer to at least do the first day before I break them. I don’t know exactly when I started rowing but I certainly didn’t finish until after the end of the day.

I’m still counting it as a successful first day – after all, in England it was still yesterday…

Now to get up and get today’s rowing out of the way, before I try out my new pedals πŸ™‚

On yoga as an unusual form of torture

One I wrote a long time ago (mid summer, sometime) and never got round to sending..

***

Until recently I’ve always been a bit, I don’t know, snotty about yoga.

I first heard about it 15 years or so ago when it was propagated as ‘not a good thing’ by the church youth group. I had no idea what it was or what happened when you went, I just knew it was to be avoided. It had a vague air of being some kind of sect, dangerous and fully unknown.

Years later, I figured out it was basically just a room full of people stretching and twisting themselves into complicated poses. At some point I started discovering that more and more people I knew, even Christians*, went to yoga sessions and treated it as a sport equal to, say, swimming or tennis.

Still, a sense of alien, almost silliness,  hung over my idea of it. It was a bit suspect in my mind, something for modern ‘alternative’ people, navel gazers, the odd ex-ballet-dancer who wants to keep supple, but mostly for the people who have kale smoothies for breakfast and salad for lunch; the ones who have perfect nail varnish and perfect hair all the time. The people who have precise, tidy lives and 3000+ friends on all the sites people collect friends on. The people I don’t really have much in common with. At least not on the outside. On the inside I imagine people are all much the same. Not that I’ve checked.

***

Recently, yoga has been mentioned implicitly and/ or explicitly incredibly often.

It started a year or so ago when I made fun of an advert for Everyday Yoga courses on offer at work. Turns out one of my colleagues’ wife is a yoga teacher, and he thinks that it really would be very helpful if everyone at work actually did practice yoga every day… Oops.

Despite trying hard to backtrack, I wasn’t very successful, and I probably made things worse rather than better. Ho hum.

Then a friend told me how helpful it is for her, followed by several blog-writers swearing by it, followed by another friend leaving a box of yoga-position-cards on the table in the room I stayed in, followed by a friend of DB’s mentioning how amazing he finds it.

Not long afterwards, DB and I went to the friend’s house to talk about something entirely different. Before we left, the friend’s wife told me I should go to the yoga course with her husband because it was SOOO good for him and would be good for me too. Bearing in mind I hardly know her, and that we hadn’t been talking about me having a problem or looking for a new sport, I was a little bit surprised and not at all adequately prepared to say anything sensible – like ‘no, but thanks anyway’ – and change the subject. Instead I mumbled something like, ‘ach, I don’t know……why don’t you go with him?’. She’d had time to rehearse, and had a list of more or less fantastic reasons to back up her choice to spend Sunday mornings at home. Not that I knew it was Sunday mornings at stake.. (and early Sunday mornings at that!)

It didn’t take long for DB (and his friend) to join in, ‘yeah, why don’t you go? You need to get out more’**, and I ended up agreeing to try it once.

***

As part of a semi-major garden reworking, DB and I took the old scrappy hedge out of the front garden. In doing so we won back a decent sized patch of land, enough for a miniature veggie patch. Whatever. That Friday evening we drove a couple of hundred miles and bought 11 box trees as a replacement hedge. On the Saturday, we dug an older tree out, dug a further 11 holes and planted the trees. On the Sunday morning I was up early to go to my first yoga session.

***

I survived the 2 hour session, just about, and came home to tell the tale. I spent the afternoon in the garden, digging and getting rid of the remaining hedge roots

***

On Monday, I felt like I’d been steamrollered. I haven’t had such widely spread muscle ache since the first time I went skiing. Every part of me hurt.

I hobbled to work, I crawled up steps, I tried to make sure I didn’t sit down if I needed to stand up again soon. Similarly, if I was sitting down, I didn’t stand up if I could help it.

I wasn’t sure if it was from yoga or the hedge or the root-removal, I just know it took a week to recover.

***

The session after that seemed even harder – I slumped into a heap when I got home and refused to move for most of the afternoon. The session after that was strange. It felt easier, but when I got home (at 11am ish) I went to bed and slept 4-5 hours solidly. Even after waking up I was in no fit state to actually do anything.

***

That was just after Easter.

I’m still going, several months later.

Not every Sunday, but probably every second or third, on average.

I ought to go more often, given that I go back several paces for every session I miss.

I am still incredibly unfit, and unstretchy, and incapable of remembering a string of positions.

But. And this is a big but (bordering on bigger than mine). I am making progress. I no longer fall asleep the minute I get home after a session. I am able to walk on Mondays. I am able to plank for as long as it takes for the course leader to say, “breeeeathe iiiiinnnn… cobra!” (Which is luckily only about 2 1/2 seconds, but you have to start small, right?), I have been known to balance on one foot with my arms twisted around each other in my own personal impression of half-an-eagle. (I still don’t get the obsession with half animals. I especially don’t know why anyone would want to crawl into the position of a half-baby, even if it is the yoga equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card. But there we go. I didn’t make the rules.)

I still think it’s a form of torture, and I still have a heck of a long way to go before I am in any way graceful or elegant, or even capable of touching my toes without bending my legs, but I’m confident that I’ll continue to get better if I continue to go, and better is gooder than worse.
..Still. it is a shame about the Sunday morning lie-ins!

πŸ˜›
* writing this now, it seems like a ridiculous distinction to make. At the time the realisation shook my world…

** which is true, but unusual for him to say. Usually I suggest things to do, and he finds reasons not to do them.. maybe I should get his friends to suggest the other things too…. πŸ˜‰

On Boxing Day bowling with the boys

…or the second day of Christmas for anyone who doesn’t know what boxing day is…

Once upon a time, about 20 years ago,Β  DB and a crowd of friends decided to go [10-pin] bowling on the 26th of December.

Since then it’s become a tradition.

This year was the first time I went with them.

Unlike them, I think I’ve been bowling 4 times in my entire life.

I didn’t do too badly though, all things considered. I even got a couple of strikes. A lot of balls rolled off to the sides, completely missing all the pins, but I wasn’t the only one throwing them, so it wasn’t all that embarrassing πŸ™‚

We played 4 rounds, all the others improved over time. Despite getting weaker and weaker and even dropping a ball before I could throw it, I scored 60-70 each round (of 10×2 throws).

3 hours of good company and left over Christmas chocolate, cakes and biscuits is something I could agree to repeat – it was a good way to spend an evening.

***

Yesterday, my fingers hurt.
Today, my whole arm hurts.

This proves that I do have muscles.
Muscles that I rudely woke up in the middle of their hibernation.

On raking up old leaves

Usually people turn over new leaves, especially at the beginning of the year. I’ve decided to rake up a few of my older ‘new leaves’, the ones which have fallen by the wayside over the course of the year. Hopefully some of them will stick this time round and I’ll have a headstart on next year πŸ˜‰

– this practically killed me in February when I started it, but then proved to have been incredibly effective when I went skiing.

The first time I went, I skiied for ONE day and was unable to move for about a week afterwards because everything hurt so much. A friend suggested I follow this crazy woman’s regime pretty dedicatedly until I go again. So I did. For about 3 weeks. The second time I went skiing, I was fit enough to dance around the car park at the end of the second day and although everything still hurt for a few days afterwards it was nothing like the first time.. I’m hopefully going skiing again over new year which gives me 4 weeks. I think I’m less fit than I was at the start of last time, so this may prove interesting. I’ve decided to motivate myself to actually do it, by saying I can’t post (or surf much) until it’s done.

  • Eat more sensibly.

– For some reason I find this incredibly difficult at the moment. I’m either not hungry, or I’m hungry NOW but have no interest in cooking (in which case I eat something ‘stupid’ like chocolate)

  • Sleep more (=at least 7 hours, better 8-8 1/2) …
  • … so I can be on time for work.
  • Walk at least a mile per day. This is something I read on someone else’s blog and thought was a good idea. On an average weekday I walk to work and back which is about a mile each way. On most Sundays I walk to church and back which I suppose is just over a mile total. Saturdays are a problem. Today I walked into town and round the Christmas Market πŸ™‚ Was pretty cold, but dry and not really windy. And the market was nice.
  • At least 1 other ‘sporty’ thing per week; swimming, iceskating, cycling, dancing.. whatever. For an hour. Ish.

And that’s it. πŸ™‚