Week Eight: Graduation Day! We Are Runners!!

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How cute! We saw this heart shaped marking in the paving outside the front of Knole House on our last session together and I feel it captures the spirit of our lovely group as we shared time and laughter the last eight weeks, bonding as we supported and encouraged each other onward and upwards!

We have all made such progress- even me the slowest of the slow. It’s astonishing how far we have come from that first taster session in terms of fitness, speed, stamina and distance covered. Our coach has been a fount of wisdom, always there with encouragement and praise and has taken us on a journey from newbies to runners.

Memories have been made as we have run the paths around the park- Lynne’s Hugging Wall will always be special to each of us I think:wp-image-1509927443jpg.jpg

We have been so lucky as this last run together was our first real rainy run- we have had damp, cold, fog, frost, crisp sun and interestingly the weather has only ever added to our enjoyment and never taken from it. Running through the mud and rain was no less fun than on the beautiful sunny day…. I guess that means we really are runners now!

Plans for moving forward on this marvellous journey to fitness have been made and promises to continue the slj way by continuing to encourage and support each other as we go in slightly different directions. I still need to work on my stamina so shall not be joining the girls with the Gentle Joggers. I have decided that I shall focus on building fitness and stamina by joining the Power Walking group for the next few weeks and then once again sign up for Beginners with the goal of running 5k at the end of that course. The absolute flexibility to suit every individual is brilliant so we all have a clear vision of how and where we go now, having all successfully completed our eight week course

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Week Two…. Progress Is Made!

Yes, Yes, Yes! It’s true! We have all made progress and it’s awesome! Believe me I do not use that word lightly as despite teenspeak influence upon my vocabulary I still reserve the word ‘awesome’ for those occasions that truly warrant it.

The park was beautiful in the early morning sun, here and there little bits of leftover snow lingered but mostly it was just crisp frost decorating the grounds.

It was lovely to see the girls again and we stepped out lightheartedly catching up on each others snow news etc. Our coach talked to us about gait this week – like all the SLJ coaches she is inspiring, encouraging, supportive and knowledgeable and is keen to get us into good habits right from the start. Good gait can make all the difference in improving the run whilst caring for hips and knees, which is very relevant to an old crock like me who is starting to discover aches and pains in a previously fairly well behaved body! We were given a little aide-memoire to help remind us of the key points: Talking M-P-H!

Talking: this refers to the correct relaxed running pace that allows enough breath spare to talk, and therefore one that is sustainable and thus building stamina. Too fast a pace is simply unsustainable and ends in uncomfortable puffing (or in my case panting collapse hehe!) A relaxed pace is not only physically manageable, but also encouraging mentally as it makes everything achievable- which is a tremendous boost to this beginner!

M: is for mid-foot strike as opposed to landing on either toes or heels with each step and thus avoiding damaging jarring to hip and knee joints. It also seemed to help speed and smoothness of running as we then pushed off from our hind foot more efficiently.

P: is for parallel feet running along parallel lines as if on railway tracks, without allowing knees to knock in, or ankles to kick out.

H: is for using our arms to help move us forward by drive the elbow back at ninety degrees and then swinging forward as if hammering a nail into an imaginary wall. We keep our arms along the same parallel as our feet, as allowing them to swing in front of us reduces pace and arms are surprisingly helpful in aiding forward momentum.

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A tip shared by my coach on the previous course I started but was unable to complete was to keep the hands relaxed by imagining holding an egg as this means tension doesn’t build up in the shoulders whilst running.

Our pace was definitely relaxed as we talked away the miles, comparing notes on many and varied subjects including the remarkable uses for toothpaste! I guess you had to be there as it sounds a little odd now but rest assured we had a splendid time and the miles just flew by.

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After our cooldown walk we were excited to be informed that we had chalked up another three miles AND doubled our shortest running intervals from thirty to sixty seconds, with mostly intervals of one and half minutes mixed with two minute ones…. our longest was two and half minutes so it was high fives all round!!

Can’t wait for next week!

Fitball, Funball….Fabball!!!

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Who knew that such a simple item combined with simple movements could have such an impact whilst being so much fun? I signed up for a fitball class with SLJ, without really knowing much about it all…and by that I genuinely mean nothing at all… so I googled…

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Oh my stars and whiskers! The first class was awesome!! I was so anxious and uncertain as I walked into the studio for my first class, despite having already experienced the warm, all embracing welcome of the Ladies  at SLJ.

That first class was some little while ago now, as I am somewhat behind in putting some of my experiences since September 2016 into words, but the impact and memory is as fresh today as the day it happened… what a class to have as my introduction to Fitball!! It was AWESOME! The theme of the class revolved around the UK gold medals won at the Olympics 2016- it was innovative, challenging, interesting and above all FUN! I loved it!

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Every week delivers a challenging, fresh workout with a central target core theme, it’s fun, it’s fabulous and it’s flexible with easy adaptations to suit individual needs- so that any one from new mothers to menopausal women, from the lithe and fit to the aspiring yet abysmally unfit can participate: all will benefit!

I have been amazed that each week is different to the last, and that whilst the movements have frequently been quite small the difference to me has been huge! I am changing shape and it’s great!!!!

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I Am The Change That Carpe Diemed

 

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Due to a crippling combination of mental, physical and menopausal I had been excluding myself from life, hiding behind a wall of good intentions, losing myself in beautiful books, drifting day to day, leading an increasingly housebound existence for months that slowly dripped and slipped into years. There was an absence of me in my own life, self esteem and confidence were barely even distant memories. “The Change” was in charge and that needed to change!! I needed to BE the change!! (I do so love a word play)

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The first step was acknowledgement mixed together lightly with self awareness and seasoned with humour… after all there are a crazy number of posts and affirmations on Pinterest  about “Be the Change”

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Fast forward a bit, half-hearted skip and a jump over an ineffectual tangle of “I will start on Monday” and various other forms of procrastination and avoidance and I spotted an advert for Sevenoaks Ladies Joggers, SLJ, as I sat waiting in traffic at a red light and a flicker of excitement stirred my soul… “Could I? Would I?” closely followed by a “Dare I?”

It’s not often one can say, “Thank goodness for Facebook” is it? Yet when I spotted a post about #SLJ in my newsfeed and followed up with a click I began a journey that has found me saying exactly that!!

Wow!… a journey of discovery that encompassed fun, warmth, understanding and support- but even more importantly one that facilitated a rediscovery of self: the self that got lost somewhere between the arrogance of youth, amid the confusion of early adulthood; the demands of motherhood, submerging and compensating in single parenthood; the foggy sweats of menopause that saw an unprecedented gain in weight and loss of joie de vivre. The self who could take a risk, laugh because life is good, sing because the sky is blue, enjoy the moment and feel life fizzing though my veins… Depression started to dissolve just a little as hope returned to entice my soul out of hibernation.

I took a risk and signed up. Damn straight…. I actually did, done do it!

I signed up for the free taster session for the Beginners Course with SLJ. Heavens to Betsy! I voluntarily signed up to walk/jog/run/stumble in public whilst wearing leggings n a t-shirt!! Well, thank my lucky stars I did- as it has seen the start of an epic life-changing event! That Saturday was the  day the girl who was ALWAYS told she couldn’t at school by her PE teacher changed into the woman who DID and CAN! The warm welcome by the inspirational Sam, her Coaches and the lovely ladies attending the session embraced me immediately. I forgot self consciousness and became a part of something special, something empowering…yes I was way out at the back, but at no point was I not part of the group, the fun, the laughter. The sheer power of achieving a walk/jog/run of 3k (2 miles) was euphoric, it was an awesome moment! I realised I was the only stumbling block to change and with that my perspective moved from disbelief and doubt to hope and determination.

The rest of the weekend was a high of achievement- the endorphins were simply delicious and more of the same went straight to the top of my “To Do” list!

This was the moment where I carpe diemed and became the change I wanted to be.It turned out that the biggest stumbling block had been my own attitude!

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Please note the photos are not my own and I have linked my source.