The Power Of Walking

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So what to do now that Beginners is finished and having decided that I am not really quite ready to graduate to Gentle Joggers ? The answer for me is Power Walking! Oh my stars and whiskers! My first walk with the delightful Joan was awesome! Make no mistake this is no soft option and naturally, as per usual, I was at the back of the pack! Joan looked after me like a gem and the girls in the group were, as ever, supportive, friendly and welcoming. It was cold, wet and windy and I LOVED it!!

Interestingly I ached more all over the next day than I ever did from jogging. I think this is going to be an excellent way of improving my fitness level!

I enjoyed the route so much that I decided to retrace our footsteps on a solo session a couple of days later….this time without the rain and the wind as companions!

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I didn’t maintain the same pace because I was so distracted by the scenery around me. I think that walking may well be my jam as opposed to running as there was no anxiety only deep, pure enjoyment of my surroundings.

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I could feel depression and bleakness withering away like the old leaves upon the ground and a feeling of gratitude twinkled through my veins.

Unfortunately my phone failed to capture the beauty of the carpet of wood anemones which is a shame as they were really quite special.

The path wound through the woods and then came out to a small country lane, so I strode onward and upwards towards the Kissing Gate into the Park.

Once through the Kissing Gate I was back into woodland again and the sound of the silence was quite amazing, there was a mystic quality to the air and all I could hear was my own breath as even the birds were quiet here. I could feel peace spreading down through me, centering me, grounding me here in this moment, my tense shoulders dropped from up around my ears to exactly my favourite place for shoulders to be! Deep breath in, feel the diaphragm lift and embrace the sensation of relaxation as the breath flows from the body. My senses become heightened and my awareness blossoms as I walk mindfully and appreciate the detail nature provides.

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The sun was breaking through gently, the trees sheltering me from the somewhat chilly wind: it was idyllic.

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As I was coming to the edge of the woods I came across this group of young deer- they didn’t seem to mind me interrupting their afternoon, and were only mildly curious as I walked passed. The golf course opened out before me as I came to the edge of the trees and the sun was chasing the clouds away.wp-image-1398665927jpg.jpg

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Indeed by the time I was on the homeward stretch the temperature was delightful as the wind dropped and blue skies encouraged me forwards.

A Local Stroll

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The MOT was due on the Mini so I booked it in with the friendly local chaps, crossed my fingers, hoped for the best and set off to walk home on Tuesday afternoon. The sun was shining, it was warm and quite delightful so rather than stride out with a power walk or attempt to jog home I decided a mindful walk was what I needed to enjoy the Spring afternoon to the full. It is amazing to take in and appreciate the detail I drive past daily and see the beauty that surrounds us. The first flowers I found were right by the garage where I left the Mini.

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Despite walking passed several brave blooms that I wanted to photograph I felt scrabbling around in the front gardens of others was a little inappropriate so I waited until I was at The Lakes

The last of the snowdrops were just about hanging on- I do so love them, there is something very special about these delicate flowers.

Alongside these last valiant flowers were wood anemones and crocuses. Another name for this little flower is smell fox due to the musky smell of the leaves.wp-image-1228475441jpg.jpg

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The Lakes are always so peaceful to walk through and I feel blessed to live so close to this lovely spot.

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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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A Few More Snowdrops 

Today’s jaunt revealed a few more snowdrops. There are dramatically fewer than this time last year which is a shame as I love them so. It was a struggle to leave the house this afternoon but I am glad I managed it as discovering these little brave lovelies lifted my mood. The grey skies reflect the gloomy bleakness of depression that is trying to reclaim me so finding beauty along my walk helps to keep the blackness at bay.

A further boost to mood occurred when I spotted my first crocus and a couple of iris blooms- beautiful! Unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough to take my own photo as it was in someone’s garden so I found one as similar as possible on the good old internet

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A Little Local Wander

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Friday was a somewhat chilly day with low grey skies attempting to dissuade me from trotting forth from my cosy sitting room! However, as Sam so rightly points out there are few days when it is impossible to go out and particularly as I missed our weekly Beginner Joggers session on Wednesday I was determined to wrap up and get out there!  I decided to stay local as a change to the Park and I am so glad I did!

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I chose to explore a path that I have driven passed many, many times since moving here and at the back of the new houses behind Tesco I followed the river path and found this! I knew the River Darenth ran along here through Riverhead, but hadn’t realised the extent of the body of water there

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Even under the lowering skies it is stunning! I spotted a heron as well as plenty of ducks and moor hens

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The river is beautiful and peaceful despite the close vicinity of the huge supermarket, the new houses and the main road.

I walked and jogged as far as I could along the river side: the signs saying PRIVATE discouraged further exploration… So I retraced my steps back to the main road.

I headed through Dunton Green, over towards the path through woodland that leads towards the Wild Life Reserve.  I found a piece of  sheltered, flat ground and decided to do my dynamic stretches

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I have grown in confidence over the weeks so that, despite still struggling a little with working through the stretches whilst out and about, I able to complete these important movements. I still do my cooldown stretches at home ^^

The river reappeared, meandering through the woodlands so I was able to capture a few photos along the way. I saw another heron, but again it was too far away for my phone to be able focus and capture the moment.

I Did, Done Strung My String

It was a cold and misty morning for week three of Beginner Joggers  but whilst the clouds were low our spirits were high as we headed off into the park. The group was a little changed up from the week before as we welcomed back one of our lovelies who was absent last Wednesday and a newcomer to the group who usually runs with the Saturday Beginners. This is part of the SLJ ethos that I really appreciate: warm, welcoming, friendly, supportive and flexible. It is always possible to swap out a session to another day of the week if necessary so life doesn’t get in the way of this journey towards fitness. Indeed I will have to change my Monday Fitball as I have to attend a meeting in Brighton.

We warmed up well as the park was chilly in the mist this morning as we strode out, catching up on each others’ week and getting to know our temporary member. It was so cold this week that even this menopausal sweaty betty didn’t take her jacket off- which is a first as I normally strip off on the first hill as my ‘ReadyBrek Glow’ takes over!

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The jogging started sooner than on the previous weeks and we were well into our stride by the time we reached Knole House so we trotted on around the corner of the garden wall where we paused for a short while to do our dynamic stretches. As usual the laughter and banter flowed as we squatted and lunged together. Just to mix things up a little we added in some press ups using the wall.

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I was struggling a little today with aching calves and talked with our lovely coach about this and realised that whilst the homework run is, of course, important for good progression and stamina building my extra Sunday run with my daughter with its additional squats, press-ups, jumps and lunges had not really given my muscles enough rest time. Lesson learnt: slow and steady wins the prize in my fitness journey and taking time to rest and repair muscles as they improve is as important as the exercise!!

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So… an explanation of the quirky title. I moved a little carelessly over some uneven ground as we were jogging slightly uphill and ouch! I felt a nasty twinge of pain at the back in my left thigh! I think it was a combination of having over done the training and being a little tired and clumsy, maybe the cold weather didn’t help, but whatever the reason the result was a pulled muscle- it felt like a piece of tight string strung down my thigh. My coach responded immediately with care and advice and my fellow beginners were very supportive. The photo below is not of my bottom sadly though it does illustrate exactly where it was hurting! Haha!

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Stretching it out did ease things a little but running really didn’t feel good so it was decided that I would walk back to base. The others continued with their run with me walking and true to SLJ ethos I was not left behind as, bless them, they ran ahead, then walked back to meet me. The banter continued amid their warm concern as they laughed and joked about improving their step count for the day! I used the slower pace to grab a couple of photos of the park in the mist.

We finished off as usual with stretches and I was given follow up advice for the next few days and as I am writing this some days after the event I can report that a couple of days resting saw me up and about as usual and looking forward to my homework run…yay!