No pain no gain!

I am in pain today. I think I’ve bruised my ribs, or possibly worse. I wish I could tell you that I did it whilst trying a challenging problem on the climbing wall, or riding a massive wave on my bodyboard. Unfortunately, though, I fell on the treadmill at the gym. I wouldn’t mind so much if I’d been running at the time, but I was wiping the machine down ready for the next user when my foot slipped off the side. I feel such a fool!

So no working out for me for a few days! I never thought I’d say this, but I miss not going to the gym. This reminded me of a post I wrote on another blog of mine thetravelbug, so I thought I’d reblog it for you:

I Can’t Believe I’m a Gym Bunny

‘I’ve surprised myself once again with my latest passion. I never thought I’d say this, but I love going to the gym. Until a couple of months ago, I’d only worked out in a gym once before in my life. Whilst working my very first summer season as a rep in Austria, one of my colleagues had persuaded me to go with him to the gym at one of our hotels. I found it too repetitive at the time, and I soon got bored and distracted. Plus, the cross-trainer put me off because I looked like a frog in a blender.
So what made me give it another go? I hear you ask. Well, since my vow to try at least one new activity every year, I’ve found myself doing things that I never thought I would and revisiting some activities that I didn’t get off to the best start with first time round. Although I’ve been a lot fitter the past couple of years, my stamina is something that I still really struggle with. I’ve tried taking up running (I have the most beautiful park right on my doorstep), but I have problems with my feet and so training can be hit and miss. Even on days when my feet don’t hurt too bad, I have to be careful where I’m running in case I fall over and hurt them even more. I also wanted to build up my strength to help improve my rock climbing.
As I was already using the local sports and community centres for swimming and exercise classes, I’d heard about the Cardiff Active card. For a monthly fee, you get unlimited access to all Cardiff Council gyms, exercise classes and swimming pools. Plus you get a gym induction included. When I found out that I get a further 25% discount as an employee of the company that I work for, I went straight to get my application form.
I’m getting my moneys worth using my Active card for all the activities at the centres, but what I love most at the moment is the gym. I usually work out there two or three times a week, and I’ve overcome my distraction problem by taking along my MP3 player to listen to. The weights have been great to build up my strength and help me to climb better, and I can tell that my stamina has improved greatly already. The best thing is that I can run really easily on the treadmill because it’s a smooth surface and I don’t have to worry about doing further damage to my feet. So far I’ve worked up to running for 10 minutes straight, which for me is a huge achievement. My goal is to run the Cardiff 5k Race for Life, and I hope to be able to sign up for it next year. Wish me luck x’

Author’s note: Since I first wrote this post I’ve improved my running even more (apart from when I fall off the treadmill). I now run 2.5km as a warm up, and I’m well on my way to being ready for the 5k next year.

 

 

Advertisements

Sasieology has a new look

Life for me is very busy at the moment. When I do get a spare minute, I’ve been trying to spend some time on WordPress working on my blog. Over the coming weeks you’ll see some changes to Sasieology, hopefully for the better. I apologise for any mistakes, I’m learning as I go. Let me know what you think of the changes.

Travel Theme: White

This week’s travel theme from Ailsa is White.

My favourite white thing in the whole wide world is snow. I don’t mean the slushy, grey stuff that brings the UK to a screeching halt most winters. I mean high mountain, virgin, clean, pure white snow that I can ski on.

When I stand at the top of the piste, I know how privileged I am to be allowed to travel down one of Mother Nature’s beautiful creations, the mountain, on two planks of wood and fibreglass. As much as it’s my playground, I also have ultimate respect for the mountain and planet Earth. To me, there is no more peaceful and honest moment. Before I commit to my descent, I say a prayer to Mother Nature. For she is the one who will protect me, as long as I respect her whilst I am laid bare on her mountain.

Travel theme: Texture

Ailsa’s travel theme on Where’s my backpack this week is Texture http://by151w.bay151.mail.live.com/default.aspx#!/mail/InboxLight.aspx?n=1777109588!n=160854699&fid=1&fav=1&mid=a4a9c237-fe43-11e1-a84a-00215ad8572c&fv=1

I had to think about this one for a minute, then I remembered the photos I took at the salt basins in Death Valley. After travelling through the desert for so long, it was like suddenly finding yourself in an alien environment. In a wierd way, it felt like coming home for me because walking on the salt floor was almost like walking on fresh snow where I used to live in the Alps. The only difference was the unbelievably high temperatures and the fact I was wearing shorts and a vest top rather than 3 layers of ski gear. As I walked further out into the salt basin, I realised that I had to be incredibly careful. The deeper the salt formations became, the sharper they were. One false move, and I could suffer a nasty cut. The textures were so fascinating that I got down as low as possible (and as carefully as possible) to take some close-up shots. It really was like looking through the lense at another planet.

Photographs only give you the visual, though. What you can’t see in my photos are the tastes and the sounds. If you run your finger along the ground and then lick it, the taste is bizarre. It’s exactly what you would expect and so much more, all at the same time. If you stand still, you can hear the salt crackling under your feet.

Convincing myself is the hardest part

‘Try something new’ is a common theme through my blogs. I’m constantly encouraging people to attempt different activities and make manageable, positive changes in their life. So I must be the most super-extrovert, confident person in the world, right?

Wrong. When I try something new, I am the biggest scaredy cat in the world. I get nervous at the thought of doing something that I don’t already know how to do, I worry about meeting new people, and I generally just convince myself that I’ll mess up and everyone will laugh at me. To be fair, that has happened to me, although thankfully very rarely.

The thing with me is, though, that deep down inside I really want to be that super-exrtrovert, confident person. So I make myself take the plunge. I ignore all my own excuses, and force myself to go to that new exercise class or sign up for night school.

This week, I forced myself to go to climbing club. For the past couple of years I’ve pretty much climbed with the same partner. We met on a climbing course and discovered we liked each others company, plus we were able to climb at times that suited the both of us. This happy union continued until this summer, when my climbing partner dropped the bombshell that she was moving to London. Although I was happy for her, I was also petrified at the thought of having to find a new partner to climb with. The only other option would be to quit, but I really like climbing so I don’t want to do that.

Instead, I’ve been using guerrilla tactics to solve my problem. I put a notice up on the ‘Looking for a climbing partner?’ notice board at my local climbing centre, I’m phoning other people on the board and I’ve started going to climbing club.

I won’t lie, I was bricking it the first time I went up to the social secretary on duty and asked if anyone else was climbing the same level as me. Rather than laugh and point, though, he welcomed be with a handshake and introduced me to Phil, who I spent the next couple of hours having a laugh and climbing with. It really pushed me in my climbing too, and I ended up climbing at a much higher grade than I usually would.

Today a got a message from another climber who saw my advert on the notice board. We’ve arranged to meet up tomorrow at the wall. I am, of course, really nervous. Somewhere inside my head, though, my little rational voice is fighting to be heard, and it’s saying that it’ll be OK.

Taking a ‘step’ into the unknown

Every year, I challenge myself to visit at least one new place and try at least one new activity. If you haven’t already guessed from my terrible pun in the title of this post, which I apologise profusely for, my latest attempt at a new activity is ‘Step Class’.

The step class at my local community centre is between my usual gym time and yoga class, so I quite often catch bits of it as I walk past to use the changing rooms. Since I first saw all those energetic steppers bouncing away, I’ve wanted to give step class a try, but I kept putting it off and making excuses. Why do we do that? I get really nervous before I go into any new group situation for the first time, and I know it’s ridiculous. I’ll either like it, or not. If it’s the latter, then I just won’t go again, as in the case of the Core Strength Workout that I tried at the local climbing wall (http://thetravelbug.blog.co.uk/2012/02/14/core-strength-12782430/ for anyone who hasn’t read my old blog). So, this week, I had a word with myself and promised myself I’d make it to step class. And I am so glad that I did, because not only was it a good workout but I had a blast doing it.

For anyone else who is old enough to remember, the step instructor reminds me of Victoria Wood in the sketch where she played the substitute aerobics instructor. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. She is brilliant. She has so much energy and enthusiasm, and she constantly looks out for us clueless beginners who watch in confusion as the experienced regulars throw themselves into the more difficult routines. Even with my dance background, I think it’s going to take me a few weeks until I can keep up with them.

The hour flew by so quickly because I was enjoying it so much and concentrating so hard on what I was doing. Personally, I really enjoy sports where I have to think, so step class is perfect for me. It took me back to my dancing days, having to remember routines and make sure you’re on the correct leg and using your arms at the same time.

My only worry is that after a few weeks the class could get a bit repetitive. I’m hoping that she mixes it up a bit now and then. For now, though, I’m loving step. Bring on the next class!

The uglier side to camping

I love camping. I love being outdoors, living simply and sharing great experiences with fellow campers, whether they be old friends or friends yet to be made. This weekend, however, I had to endure one of the downsides to camping, because I spent my weekend drying out the wettest tent I have ever come across.

It all started August Bank Holiday weekend, when I took my 7 year old godson camping with my friends and their grandchildren. We had a fantastic first two days in the Gower, a stunningly beautiful part of Wales that is less than 2 hours drive from my house. The sun was shining, the sea was clear and the kids had loads of fun playing on the beach and crabbing in the rock pools.

Unfortunately, as so often happens in the UK, the weather took a drastic turn in the early hours of Monday morning and we woke to heavy rain. It wasn’t even a refreshing, summer rainfall. The sky was grey, and the water fell in huge drops, drenching everything it came into contact with. Including my tent. I packed the tent back into its bag as quickly as I could and shoved it in the car. When I got home, I left it balancing over the bath, where it slowly dripped water until this weekend.

On Saturday morning I decided I had to bite the bullet. The weather forecast looked good, and we don’t know how many more nice weekends we’re going to get here in Wales this year. I couldn’t put it off any longer, I had to dry out the tent. It was horrible. I didn’t realise such a small piece of canvas could hold so much water. It literally poured out as soon as I opened the bag, and it pooled in every fold of the tent as I tried to lay it out in my back garden. Now, here came my next problem. My back garden, which I share with my downstairs neighbour, is smaller than my tent. So, I can’t just pitch the tent and leave it for a couple of hours. I have to dry it in sections, running down to my garden every hour to direct another part towards the sun, and all the time keeping an eye out for those ominous British clouds that could ruin all my efforts in seconds.

I’ve posted a picture to show how comical my tent looked in our tiny back garden. I’ve pitched tents in some tight places, but this was just ridiculous!

Image

Me, all in one place

I’ve decided to simplify my life. Well, my online life at least.

For the past year, I have been writing two blogs under the pseudonym ‘the travel bug’. http://thetravelbug.blog.co.uk/ has documented my mission to travel to new places and try new activities, and http://freerangecarrots.blogspot.co.uk/ followed my quest to lead a plant-based, more environmentally-aware lifestyle. Splitting my writing between two blogs has become confusing, and time consuming, especially with the painfully slow internet connection that I get on my tired, old laptop here in South Wales. Quite often, the topics I was writing about on one blog would blur with those on the other, so it seemed logical to bring the two together. Whilst planning my new blog, I realised that merging the two old ones created a profile of my life. Using the name ‘the travel bug’ seemed redundant when I could just be me.

Since I started blogging, I have enjoyed reading other writers’ blogs. They have educated me, entertained me and inspired me. Most of the blogs I have read have been right here on WordPress, so it was the obvious home for Sasieology.

Anyone who has read my other blogs will know that technology is not my strong point, and I am not great at navigating web pages. Therefore, I ask for your patience until I get Sasieology to where I want it to be. As we say here in Wales ‘Dyfal donc i dyr y garreg’ (It’s a steady tapping that breaks the stone). Or, in other words, I’ll get there in the end.