Week 41

Ah injury again. This time a back spasm. I have no idea how this happened. Maybe it was from the swings, maybe it was from my terrible posture when I’m slumped at my desk, or maybe it was because I managed to break my bed and slept funny. Probably a pinch of each. So this week I’ve only managed 3 days of swings. 

I’ve spent a few days with my arch enemy, stretching. And I think I’ll be ok. I’m sure you are relieved for me.

Strangely though the days have now lined up. I have 25 days of swings left to complete the challenge and now I should finish on a Friday, instead of a Wednesday, which is kinda neat.

Week 40

And so I hit the 200 day mark this week. 86,000 swings completed which mean that, at 500 swings a day, I have 28 days of swinging left. Less than 6 weeks. With a week off for a short break in Japan I will finish this challenge in early December. Naturally I’m now thinking about what to do next year.

In the past I have enjoyed running. Ok, maybe not enjoyed, but tolerated, endured, persevered. I am not built for running long distances. I’m short and broad. I don’t move with a spring in my step (I prowl apparently). I also have a “gimpy” leg, my right foot and knee are misaligned so I have a very distinctive running style which sees my right leg come around in an arc instead of forward in a straight line. Friends have spotted me running from hundreds of meters away due to the leg flick. So running causes me issues.

Alongside the 100k swings I have run occasionally, short jogs of around 5km, plus playing rugby occasionally. About 6 weeks ago I felt my Achilles tendon pull, a sharp stabbing pain, not the dull you-should-have-stretched ache I’ve learned to live with. The damage was enough that I had to stop walking to work, stop playing rugby and definitely stop running.

Seeking professional help has been the only option. A nice local podiatrist has put me on a stretching (I hate stretching) and strengthening routine. I’ll probably need new corrective insoles. And hopefully I’ll be back on track sooner rather than later.

And so to my next challenge. I’m still not sure what it will be but I’d like to complete at least one half-marathon. Gipmy leg permitting.

Week 39

“I told you so’” was the cry. This week I received my new shiny 20kg kettlebell. I’d been considering, pondering, prevaricating on the decision for so long. Moaning and groaning that my challenge had lost its spark and its momentum. I had wrestled with the financial cost, a hundred bucks, but so close to the end of the challenge was it worth it? I’d basically wrestled with making a change. Change is necessary and inevitable as we all know.

Wednesday was the first day I broke out Big Blue. I thought that the extra 4kg shouldn’t cause too much of an issue but my body had become used to a steady, constant weight and the extra mass put a strain on my forearms and grip that I hadn’t expected. They were burning.

Coincidentally, this week I have been reading Legacy by James Kerr, a book about the All Black rugby team and how they continue to be the most successful sports team in the history of sport. One chapter talked about The Sigmoid Curve, click on the link for a full explanation but essentially it is the theory that performance dips over time and changing direction, weight, strategy, focus at the right time is essential to progress and high performance.

I’ve probably left the change a little late for it to have a significant effect on my strength and weight loss over the remaining seven weeks of my challenge. However, I have learned a simple way of looking at every aspect of my life that will be useful forever. Thank you Charles Handy!

Week 38 – Month 9

I love rugby. Rugby Union to be specific. I wasn’t, and still aren’t particularly good at it. I played from my mid teens to my mid twenties and then started playing again this year at the tender age of 49. In between I coached kids, both my boys. Again I wasn’t a good coach but I was enthusiastic. I seemed to be capable of coaching the secret art of scrummaging to people despite not being a prop nor having boys who played in the front rows. I am endlessly fascinated by the combination of speed and power. How subtle changes in angles of running or body positions can have dramatic effects on a collision, or avoid collisions altogether. 

I can watch rugby for hours. Even poor games. I have frequently wandered down to watch local teams play. Just sitting on a grassy bank, with a couple of cans, enjoying the show. Unfortunately my subconscious holds beer and rugby in the same bracket. One of the biggest things I miss about living in the UK, in Wales, is the afternoon out with close friends watching international rugby games in a pub. The rain lashing outside. The beer flowing inside. Bonding over two teams smashing lumps out of each other.

And now the Rugby World Cup is in full swing in Japan. Virtually the same time zone. All games are on TV outside of my “work hours”. And I love it. I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that I’ve been drinking a lot of beer, too much. And I’ve put all the weight back on. And I’m a little ashamed of it.

If we ignore the weight gain for a moment the challenge is going from strength to strength, literally and metaphorically. I have ordered the heavier kettlebell. I’m just hoping that AusPost manage not to lose it (or drop it on their foot). I look forward to swinging this fresh beer belly off soon. But first we need to cheer Wales on to the final 😉