Run Like the Wind, Bullseye

Alexa, the curious daemon that lives within an electronic gadget on the bedside table burst into life in her metronomic way once again this morning – filling the room with Ronan and Harriet from Magic FM as they wished everybody a wonderful day before playing the same twenty songs they play every day.

I really need to choose a different radio station, but it’s kind of comfortable. The presenters’ voices, their banter, and the stream of 80s songs are familiar – like a warm blanket of sound. Which doesn’t help much when you’re supposed to be getting out of bed.

I did get up though. And in a fit of stupidity, pulled some running shorts and an old t-shirt on. A few minutes later I found myself wandering out into the morning air rather apprehensively. I haven’t been running in AGES.

It wasn’t actually that bad. For the first kilometre or so I surprised myself – thinking “I can still do this” – but then all the little aches and pains that come with being enormously unfit came back to haunt me. It’s going to take some time.

I did it though. I went for a run. Go me.

By the time lunchtime came around I could have eaten the entire contents of the kitchen cupboards. I didn’t. I’m not allowed – on account of being “on a diet”. It’s not really a diet – it’s just “not eating entire bags of cookies from the supermarket”. Not that I do that, of course. Not THAT often. Ok. No more than once a week. Usually.

The second big change I made today was venturing out onto the green outside the house at lunchtime to sit on a bench with a book and my cup of coffee. I texted a few neighbours, and told them of my daring escapade – wondering if any might join me. Their days sounded much like mine – which explained their absence. I sat and read some more of “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, but spent most of today realising “oh, I’ve already read that bit”. My memory has holes in it like a piece of swiss cheese at the moment.

Anyway.

I’m rather pleased with myself this evening. Small steps (or strides in this case). The route back to fitness is going to take a while, but I know I’ll feel better for it – and intervention was probably required before I develop my own gravity.

In other news, the entire day flew past – filled with a never-ending succession of worky-work things that I’m not going to write about here. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re not having fun.

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Washing and Writing

We got home on Wednesday. It’s now Saturday. The washing machine is still going. I think we can see the end of the washing mountain now though (thankfully). It’s just a case of getting it all dry, folding it, and putting it away – which we know won’t happen, don’t we. A family home isn’t homely unless there are piles of clean washing stacked everywhere.

I’m listening to Spotify while writing this. We signed up for a family account while we were away – so the kids could listen to music in the car without chewing through data. I need to remember to cancel it soon.

I posted some writing on Medium last night – a few thoughts about the ridiculousness of the whole “productivity” charade. I’m trying really hard to write about “me”, rather than “you”, because “you” looks far too much like mansplaining. I’m not quite sure what happened in my head, but in recent months mansplaining has become a massive trigger for me – as soon as I see it, I have to resist the temptation to reply to the author “thank you for mansplaining that to me”.

It’s not just men that mansplain – my middle daughter is a master at it – mostly because she is as literal as Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. On more than one occasion she has laughed (very late) at a joke, turned to us all, and started with “that’s funny because…”

Did I mention that I’m on a diet? Our middle daughter needs to lose weight, and we could all do with losing a few pounds, so thought “why not”. There is now a ban on snacks around the house. I guess this is three years of sedentary pandemic behaviours catching up with us. The end goal – for my daughter – is to pass the army fitness test. Yes, you heard that right – she’s looking at the army as a possible future. I’m not worried about that at all.

Thunderbirds are Go

Today has been a good day. A long day, a tiring day, a draining day, but also a good day.

After the alarm clock went off at 6am this morning I scraped myself out of bed, jumped in the shower, brushed my teeth, pulled yesterday’s clothes on, and wandered downstairs to make a coffee.

Six months after breaking her leg in a freak accident at rugby, this morning I took my youngest daughter across the county for a consultant to look at x-rays and decide if she can start her path towards recovery in earnest. After walking this way and that through a huge hospital in search of the correct department, and after more walking this way and that in search of the x-ray department, we eventually found ourselves sitting in front of the consultant we have been waiting months to see.

My daughter’s leg is “good to go”. It’s healed perfectly. She can now set about building back the muscle she has lost, start running regularly, and throw herself into rugby tackles once more.

I wrote a short note on Facebook – “Thunderbirds are go!”

Guess who will obviously be charged with accompanying her on said running escapades? I don’t actually mind, because I need a good reason to go running anyway.

We arrived home from the hospital early in the afternoon, and I walked straight into a wall of meetings, development work, and more meetings. Not fun.

Something else happened today though. Something that turned a stressful, tiring day into a quite wonderful day. I received word from an old friend – a friend I have not spoken to for some time, but who has never been far from my thoughts. I found myself sitting on the bus early this morning grinning like an idiot – shaking my head at the tricks the universe plays as soon as you take your eyes off it.

The Weekend Arrives

You find me sitting in the study at home with a cup of coffee between my arms while I write this post. The only sound in the room is the clickety-clack of the keyboard.

After a week spent at home recovering from COVID, we walked into town late last night to meet my middle daughter – the one that works at the pub. We had only planned on walking there an back – providing an escort of sorts to shepherd her past the numerous bars and restaurants that empty onto the streets late at night. Upon our arrival the bar staff greeted us with smiles and waves, and offered us a dink “on the house”. I can’t imagine how annoyed the man next to us at the bar must have been.

It probably says something about me that the moment I am offered something for free, I immediately worry how fair that is for others. I don’t like being given preferential treatment.

I had one drink – and this morning I know about it. I guess this is another observation to chalk-up against COVID – that the headache I might have had following several drinks now appears after one drink – or at least until my body gets a chance to recover properly.

I’m trying to stop myself from doing things today. A quiet day. Hopefully.

I can’t let today pass without mentioning an influx of new readers. Quite by chance this week I crossed paths with somebody teaching English as a foreign language, and they recommended my writing to their students. If any of you are reading this – I hope you are both understanding, and enjoying it. I can’t always guarantee I’ll have exciting or interesting content to write about, but knowing there’s an audience out there interested in a different way of life will remind me to record my “normal” – because it almost certainly isn’t theirs.

If there is anything you would like me to write about – perhaps about life in England – just send me a message. My contact details are on the “about” page.

Anyway.

It’s time for me to go make a hot drink, sit down, and try to allow my body to recover a little. Wish me luck!

Running and Quizzes

After work yesterday evening I pulled on my running shoes and went for a run around town. It seemed like a good idea at the time – but I had completely forgotten that the junk room / study where I sit for most of the day is on the cold side of the house. I knew I had made a mistake minutes into the run, when the air might well have been made from treacle.

Let’s just say it’s a bit humid at the moment. And hot. While running, I started to wonder if my body might complain about what I was putting it through – and could feel my chest tightening after a few minutes. After perhaps 10 minutes running, I gave in and walked for a while.

It’s perhaps no surprise that as I started to struggle, an ambulance and a fast response car passed me. My suspicions of starring in my own version of The Truman Show are as large as ever.

Later in the evening we trooped off down to the pub to meet friends for a pub quiz. Getting to the pub in time for the quiz was something of a challenge (for all of us), but once there we managed to forget about everything for a while and just have fun.

When it got to the “scoring the rounds” part of the quiz, we became aware of a very, very serious table with two men sat at it. Every quiz has one of those tables doesn’t it. Men of a certain age, obviously single, no sense of humour, and this is probably their entire world. Think Benedict Cumberbatch in Starter for Ten.

We weren’t really there for the quiz – it was an excuse. We were there to spend time with friends. Late in the evening – after returning home – I messaged the group chat that had resulted in the night out – and remarked how lucky we are to have such good friends.

There’s an old saying, isn’t there – about being so busy you forget to live. I’m often guilty of that.

Running and Haircuts

I began “Week 5” of the “Couch to 5K” running programme this morning – three five minute runs, with three minute walks in-between. I could really have done with an extra half hour in bed, but (thankfully) I’m pretty good at guilting myself into carrying on with the various idiot escapades I get involved in.

After getting back from the run I started clearing the kitchen around Miss 18, who was making eggy bread (french toast for the food snobs reading this). After finishing with the frying pan she threw it in the sink – which melted the washing up bowl. Genius move. When she asks about the smell of burning plastic the next time she uses the frying pan, I’ll remind her.

I just cut my hair. I’ve been cutting it myself ever since we went into lockdown – or rather, mostly cutting it – my eldest daughter typically tidies up the back for me (it’s kind of hard to see the back of your own head).

There’s an old saying about idle hands and the devil’s work, isn’t there – which would probably apply if I believed in any of that nonsense. I always find it interesting that people “of faith” tend to frame anything they would prefer others didn’t do in terms that suggest some form of supernatural retribution.

Along with countless others, I’ve been watching the news this week, and trying to process what’s going on. I’m not going to mansplain any of it – I just wanted to express my frustration with the world in general sometimes. We never learn. The same patterns repeat, endlessly.

Running Again

I went running first thing this morning – back to the “Couch to 5K” programme after a few days off after my right knee started to hurt. Fingers crossed if I just go slow at this whole running thing, my body will stop complaining.

It’s funny – for years my natural jogging pace has been about six minutes per kilometre – so about thirty minutes for five kilometres. Even though the sessions at the moment are pretty much “run, walk, run, walk”, the running part of them is coming out at exactly that pace again – and with seconds difference between each run. I seem to have an unexpectedly accurate metronome inside my body.

I do need to lose weight to make it easier though – I could do with losing about twenty five pounds. I’ve cut out most snacks, but I need to do more. Maybe some cardio on the days I’m not running would help?

Half the reason I’m running is because sitting down all day, every day, has started to cause my ankles to swell up. Being active stops that happening. My other half forgot her lunch today, which provided an unexpected lunchtime walk across town – not very far, but something at least. I suppose running around doing chores throughout the day helps too.

Anyway.

I was just taking a break from work for a few minutes. I better get on.

Little by Little

That’s two week’s of the “Couch to 5K” complete now, and after six months doing very little indeed my body appears to be remembering how the whole “running” lark works. Against my better judgement, I extended this morning’s run a little (only by a kilometre), just to see how my legs felt. So far so good.

While it’s tempting to increase mileage next week dramatically, I know I shouldn’t. Fitness programmes are designed a certain way on purpose, and I’m not twenty-something any more.

I remember the first time I ran the local five mile running race – twenty years ago now – and began training perhaps a month before-hand. I ran a small loop around town a few times, and within perhaps two or three weeks was running five miles every other day. I ended up with all sorts of pain in my shins, and that’s why I’m not about to do THAT again.

I’ve turned a corner though. The running is becoming easier. It’s getting back to the “happy place” I remember from the past. When you’re running you kind of get lost in the rhythm of your breathing – of your feet hitting the ground. I imagine there’s something about the whole “zen” thing that people go on about, but I wouldn’t presume to even guess.

I’m still losing weight too. No snacks between meals again this week. I had one “falling down” moment – the night before last. I ended up playing Trivial Pursuit with my other half late in the evening, and ate an entire bag of Doritos while playing.

There are murmurings about going out for something to eat tonight. A meal at the pub. I’m guessing I should stick to a fairly healthy option, rather than the stodge-fest I might usually choose.

Anyway.

Time to bring the working week to a close, file timesheets, and go collapse in a quiet corner somewhere (we know I’ll just end up in the bottom of an internet rabbit hole, don’t we)…

Running Before Work

I went running this morning before work. Finally getting off my backside and doing something about my general level of health and fitness. Over the next couple of months I want to both get fit, and lose some weight.

It’s not rocket science. All I need to do is some sort of fitness on a regular basis, and stop eating snacks between meals.

The run went better than expected – although I have to say I much preferred running during lockdown. Every footpath and road was teaming with people, cars, and whatever else. Of course I still firmly believe that I’m unwittingly starring in my own TV show, and that the majority of those I cross paths with are actors – scheduled to get in my way.

I wonder if there’s an official name for thinking you’re in a TV show? Trumanshowphobia, or something?

While writing this, I’m watching the clock tick it’s way through lunchtime. Six more minutes until the work day resumes.

Just enough time to make a coffee.