A change of plan

A bit of a rethink needed this morning. I have been in the habit of alternating time on the bike with a bit of a run – most days. The bike activity varies between the resistance trainer, on the quieter bitumen, dirt tracks or in the bush every now and then. It is something I intend to keep up as is (despite the magpie season). However, the running has presented some serious problems.

The first running problem appeared to be a product of distance and age. As I regularly got further past the 6km mark, my intermittent left hip malalignment became increasingly troublesome. I started having to stop to line up the ball and socket more often. Also, the hip was becoming sore between times, which was new. Hmmm. It was looking like time to reconsider my approach.

Then there was the dog. Running along Spring Crrek Rd one day, there was suddenly a rush of snapping teeth and aggressive growling and barking behind me. A charging border collie had come out of nowhere. I must have passed it in the scrub.

He got under my legs and knocked me to the ground. I landed hard on the bitumen, scoring myself some scrapes and nasty bruises. Luckily he hadn’t got a grip at this stage, but he was coming at me while I was on the ground. Fortunately, he chose to come at my legs again. I was able to kick him in the neck. It must have hurt because he backed off, snarling with his hackles way up.

I was seriously frightened and badly shaken. I had landed square on my hip and wondered if it was broken. Lying there without any mechanical form of defence I was sure those teeth were going to find a mark.

I tentaively stood up to test my weight bearing. It was OK, so I steadily backed away. After a couple of lunges and as I got further down the road the dog started to stand back, more ready to let me go. At this point, I decided this sort of running wasn’t for me.

However, confining yourself exclusively to one form of exercise gets to be a demotivating drag. I will be forever grateful to swimming, which restored me from the severe back injury scrap heap many years ago, when I suffered extruded discs at work. In health, I would choose swimming if I didn’t find it so boring. So, what to do? I tried quigong, but it was to slow for me. Yoga never felt right either.

Then, in the context of all the new research demonstrating the benefits of short bursts of high intensity exercise, I thought running a couple of km along the creek might be good. It was. Beautiful, doable, no hip soreness. But yesteday ….

As has happened several times before, Mary and I were walking along, aware to watch for snakes. As usual, we let our minds and eyes wander upward toward koala and bird spotting. Once again we only became alert to a snake when it was underfoot. Here it is, a medium sized copperhead. Easily mistaken for a red bellied black or a dark coloured brown, you can tell it is a copperhead by the pale triangular scales along the lips.

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So, for the warmer months at least, I think a change of plan is necessary. I see enough snakes to realise that I am genuinely running the risk of a snake strike along the creek. That won’t stop me walking there, but I think running heightens the risk.

Instead, today I ran through town, down to the derelict Armstong St Bridge (see photo in previous post) and back.  Even surfaces, a modest rise, a gravel footpath through town, a low traffic dead end blacktop, scenic rolling hills with the pretty golf course on one side and the solitary water tower on the other, a gorgeous riparian bush zone to look over at the terminus. Not a bad change of plan.

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Diary of a Retiree: Day 273

Mt Wombat Road

Fitness

While walking along the Goulburn River a couple of days ago, I realised I was getting a bit short of breath going up hills. I haven’t been doing much strenuous exercise in recent months and I think it is telling. So, I got on the bike for a 10k tester to see where I was at. I need to get the cardiovascular system pumping again! The legs felt heavy and I was puffing away on inclines that have never bothered me before. My conclusion is that walking is a wonderful form of exercise for keeping you active, the joints mobile and getting some fresh air into your lungs, but you most certainly need to get the heart rate up on a regular basis as well.

Getting back on the bike mid-winter around here is something of a challenge though. Even on this sunny afternoon, the chill factor on the downhill cruise was quite uncomfortable across my chest. I will need to pick my times and use the resistance trainer in between. Still, these are good options and I think I am in the right frame of mind for regular cycling again.

I also started a Quigong class a couple of months ago. This is an ancient form of Chinese martial art practiced in a fluid, slow motion, somewhat like Tai Chi. It is excellent for coordination, balance, mind / muscle control and range of motion. I am yet to remember the 64 sequential movements necessary to take myself to the most basic level of fluidity, but that will come in time.

Company

There have been quite a few visitors lately. The most recent, a lovely visit from Lyn, an old school friend. This weekend brother Keir and nephew Caleb are arriving for some riding and bushwalking. It has been wonderful to see so many friends and family make the effort to come here. We really value and appreciate their stays. Interestingly, I don’t always know the people that come. Recently we had a visit from Mitch (who used to work for Mary) and his wife Jacqui. In their mid 20s, I had only briefly met them at their engagement party a while ago.  What a delight to have such vital, intelligent, young visitors in the mix. They were great company and I really hope to see them again.

I love it when we have people of all ages come. Mary’s Melbourne book group is a case in point. 10 of them, half in their late 20s / early 30s, half in their 60s, are a highly entertaining bunch. I am lucky to be able to sit in when they meet at our place. Their birthday book club lunch meeting celebrating Darren’s 30th and Mary’s 60th was a real hoot. There was lots of laughter, perceptive book talk and conversations all over the place. I was sorry to see them go.

It is also great to see people arrive with their baggage and begin to leave some cares behind as they settle into the groove of just being here, no pressure to do anything, time to talk and walk, to look around, become part of the landscape and change down a cog, to begin to match the pace of the place. At least, this is the way I see it and I hope this is the way they find it to be.

 

Sean