You’ll have noticed I’ve been unusually quiet lately. That’s because there hasn’t been much worth telling you about.
My cross training annals are distinctly light.
I wanted to turn this layoff time into something positive. Embrace cross training. Find an activity I like almost as much as running so I have a chance of keeping up with it when I’m no longer crocked. However until today, the most active cross training I have managed was the very soggy walk to and from parkrun to barcode scan yesterday morning – my wellies added resistance and the combination of walking briskly and performing a rendition of Singing in the Rain to myself upped the cardio ante, so I’m counting it. Full waterproofs got me some funny looks in Caffè Nero but I was off to spend an hour standing in a drookit field, so not one jot did I care.
Honestly, despite my best intentions I’ve found it hard to make the time for exercise since I’ve been injured. The thing about cross training is that it’s just not very convenient compared to running. Running is so much easier to fit around life.
If I’ve got to be somewhere, say a committee meeting in the pub, at 7:30 but don’t want to miss my run that’s easy – i just run to the meeting. You can run to or from work. You can run in a loop from your front door and back to it again. You don’t need to go anywhere to start running, not if you don’t want to.
My physio is allowing me to swim, use the cross trainer and do yoga, all of which involve going to somewhere specific. And with yoga, I am further beholden to what time it’s on. 6:30am or 8:30pm, no thank you. I’m not a fan of leaving my house at 5:30 in the morning in November, nor is it good for my work performance if I don’t get home til after 10pm. So yoga is happening but more sporadically than I had hoped.
With swimming I am having slightly more success. By which I mean that I’ve managed to get to a pool once…
You see I’m only allowed to do front crawl, and I don’t think I’ve attempted that for more than 20 years! So I decided a lesson would be in order, and I was absolutely right. A friend who is a swimming teacher gave me a half hour run down of the basics earlier this week and it was great – honestly, when I got in the pool I just couldn’t remember how to do it! I managed a pathetic bit of doggy paddle, the horrible realisation dawning on me that my core is in appalling shape, and I wondered what the hell I thought I was doing there. My friend got me from that to two lots of 20m actual crawl within half an hour.
She’s a genius, and I’m so glad I did it. I now have a few drills I can do with floats to go over what she taught me and build up slowly, so that eventually I can add swimming in as a proper alternative to running to complement my training. To that end I have ordered a matching set of float and pull buoy (pretty sure that’s fancy talk for ‘legs float’) and am already getting enormous pleasure from anticipating the horrified looks I may get using them in the pool at my swanky gym.
I’m hopeful that swimming will become the other thing I do. I love being in the water. I just wish I’d spent more time actually swimming in my younger days than mucking about fishing rubber bricks out of the deep end!
Later yesterday I also went to a really good, thorough yoga class. It was excellent, I could feel it helping my flexibility immediately – I actually got my heels down to the floor in downward dog for the first time ever. This morning I was actually thrilled to have DOMS in my right glute! Maybe I’m weird but having not moved enough to even vaguely get DOMS for 5 weeks now it was like the welcome return of an old friend.
But my biggest success of the week was saved for today. I went to the actual gym for the world’s most pointless induction, considering I am only allowed to use the cross trainer. I ended up doing TWO WHOLE MILES on the thing, my legs didn’t fall off, and best of all the machines have programmes that allow me to pretend I am hiking somewhere around route 101 in Oregon or California – I can visit the Big Sur in virtual reality! Everyone else was doing cross country in the actual outdoors today, so this was helpful for FOMO alleviation. There are some advantages to joining a swanky gym!
Also the fact that I did half an hour of proper exercise (I even broke a little sweat!) with no ill effects is giving me hope that when I next see my physio on Friday, he might let me start running again. Slowly, slowly of course – but goodness it’d be good even to run/walk a parkrun at this point.
Despite these little positives I am still a bit bothered about how time consuming this all is. Once I make it to the pool, gym or class, take an hour there and get then get home it can be pretty late. Add in the time to do physio exercises and the half hour it takes to ice my legs each night, and there’s barely enough time left to eat, let alone cook something healthy. And I can’t do this every day – I don’t want Mr Duff to forget what I look like.
So it’s going to take some organisation, but I can see what the advantages will be to consistent cross training and I’m persevering with the idea that building up a few things I enjoy sensibly will mean that when I am back up and running I can gradually turn myself into a more rounded athlete.
I mean, if this week has taught us anything, it’s that you really can do anything you set your mind to.
If a perambulating cheesy Wotsit with a dead hamster on his head, none of the necessary positive qualities and pretty well all of the negative ones can become POTUS, then I can learn to swim and learn to love the cross trainer.
Especially if I can cross train in California.