Choice – or is it?

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Yes I do remember when all the above applied.

And you know what?

None of this was directly down to an unhealthy choice, it was down to a supposedly healthy necessity – I’d broken a bone in my foot and doctors advised me not to do any exercise that involved putting weight on it (in other words my normal exercise routine!)

Admittedly I could have been more creative in how I adapted my workouts but in practice this didn’t happen.

One of the many results was a limited choice for work outfits for summer.  A big bust, flabby upper arms and a slight belly are better off hidden under baggy black tops. The Guerrilla training I was forbidden to do would’ve sorted the issue.

Now, of course, that’s in the past. And I’m very, very grateful I can run today – I’m in my running gear as I type this and the sun is shining outside! Am I procrastinating?

Good Luck to everyone who likes working out but who’s still recovering from injury. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen! Hang on in there.

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Crutches versus Glamour

Gratitude, as I said in my Blogiversary post, is a many-splendoured thing. gratitude

I had a glorious Guerrillas workout again this morning, as opposed to this time last year, when I was rocking the granny shoe look.

This unflattering form of footwear was the only equipment offered me, and I have a looked at many other accoutrements made available to others who underwent leg injuries.

For example I would’ve enjoyed the services of a knee scooter and so, I’m pretty sure, would my friends in the pub!f0c9ae3cfa7bd1d3445449e01db4150a

The magical Marilyn Monroe knew that crutches certainly were NOT a Girl’s Best Friend – but that didn’t keep her away from the cameras.

Note the interesting combination of stiletto heel with the bandaged foot shown right – she doesn’t look too happy does she?

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Marilyn out jogging in Hollywood in 1951

I had imagined that, as Marilyn was no stranger to the joys of exercise, (regularly going jogging before it caught on as a trend) her frustration could only be imagined.

She sprained her ankle whilst filming in 1953 and not happy with the conditions in which she was injured, reportedly insisted on wearing a cast and taking time out of the schedule – to get back at the director!

If I’m wrong on the above please let me know – I’m admittedly no expert on Monroe, but I like her spirit.

MEANWHILE!

Hopefully, most leg injuries are temporary in the great scheme of things, but – for those who do currently have a broken foot like I did – and/or need crutches like Marilyn – here are some questions to ask yourself/your doctor/your best mate etc etc:

  • Will you be able to rest your injured limb on the ground? If so, can you use it for balance while walking?
  • How can you bathe? Can you stand in the shower, or do you need to use a bath tub?
  • Can you just use one crutch as a cane? If so, what’s the best way to walk with a cane?
  • Can you go swimming?
  • What are the best ways to position your arms and maintain posture while using crutches?

Blogiversary!

Well – give or take a couple of days, it’s my first Blogiversary!

In plaster

Breaking a bone in my foot which stopped me doing my favourite workouts was just the catalyst I needed – as I never have been an “ideas woman”, yet knew I needed to blog.

The idea was ultimately to give hope, not least to myself, but to anyone else for whom exercise is a way of life that’s suddenly taken away from them.me-xray-foot

I broke my fifth metatarsal in my left foot falling off the arm of the sofa whilst swatting at the smoke alarm – my boyfriend had been cooking sausages.

Gratitude is no bad thing. Today I just threw on my kit and did what I normally do, just go out for a run. This time last year that simply wasn’t an option.

therapeutic shoe - me
Ugh – just LOOK at that shoe!

We are talking a crazy-sized granny shoe and the geriatric “hobbling” which easily made me appear much older than my years.

And I’m comparatively lucky.

During the course of this blog I featured the story of Austin Rathe, who faced the real possibility of leg amputation after a road accident – and developed his resolve to run a marathon whilst recovering in hospital.

Detail from The Hostile Forces, Beethoven frieze, by Klimpt
Flab fear – I don’t want to look like this

I wanted a dancer who’d recovered from injury – and she came along in the unlikely form of Amber Kershaw, then aged nine, who’d recovered from a broken arm to street-dance on a competitive level.

Blogging is a steep learning curve and I’m still learning.

Part of the fun, of course, is seeing how well each blog post does – it really is quite fun looking at the stats.

In that respect, by far my most successful post was Maxing Out, which featured fellow blogger Christian Boyles, from Illinois, US, of Maxed Out Muscles.

guerrillas shakey selfie
Nerves? Yes! A shaky selfie just before my return to Guerrillas

 

Having suffered depression and flare-ups of Crohn’s Disease he told me: “I wanted to take control of my life and not allow myself to become sick again.”

Another high-hitter was Does Yoga Heal? a Q and A with my yoga instructor Espi Smith.

My inevitable fears over putting on weight led to an article on my pet hate – dieting. And I’ll level with you, the inevitable flabbiness caused by lack of exercise did impact on the choice of clothes I could wear for work in the unforgiving summer.

skeleton pray
Yup, I’ve learned to be grateful

Of course there were land-marks along the way in my recovery – getting the six-week all-clear at the fracture clinic, my return to running – and Guerrilla Training!

And whether I was able to run or not, I kept in regular contact with ParkRun – where, much to my surprise, I returned to do a Personal Best.

In the end it was simply a question of patience and letting the bone recover, as it inevitably did.

But this blog did (and still does , as I have no intention of finishing it) help tremendously.

So it’s true – Time really is the great healer.

Along with blogging!

Where’s That Duck?

This has got to be my happiest post since I started blogging.

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A young runner honks the duck to mark a personal best

Yesterday I ran a ParkRun personal best.

Believe you me I thought I would never improve – but I smashed my last time by a minute!

The last time I visited ParkRun, a broken bone in my foot simply meant I was unable to run.

It was then, however, I learned for the first time that, when you run a personal best, you get to Honk The Duck!

Even once my recovery was sufficient for me to start running again, concerns about finishing near the back – or, God forbid, even last – kept me away from Hanley ParkRun since March. And that’s nearly a year ago.

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At the start

 

Getting into the mind-set is everything – but I find this quote from John Bingham can help:

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

So, run I did.

ParkRun - duck honk
That’s him

 

Personally I really think the Guerrilla training really does help – particularly my least-favourite bit, the cardio!

The three-mile course does have quite a sharp hill right at the start, before you’re really into your stride.

Most times I immediately feel my lungs/heart protesting as the rest of the group surges ahead, but today that didn’t happen.

 

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Real live ParkRun ducks!

Needless to say, the support you get on the way round from marshals and other runners is fantastic – and towards the end a guy I know came back for me, and accompanied me on the last section, before letting me sprint to the finish.

Any duck-honking traditionally happens when you’re still at the bandstand, before said duck is packed away along with all the other equipment.

However, that only really applies to those who have timed themselves, as opposed to people like me who wait to get the result texted to them. I want to be accurate!

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Bryn’s daughter Millie was race director (here they are organising the data ready to send out)

 

By the time this happened I was sitting in the ParkRun “café” (a church hall), drinking tea and eating hot buttered toast!

Today my body gets a High Five from me for its ability to fully recover.

And it was a special day for the kids involved in ParkRun too – all the volunteer positions were manned by youngsters, who had an adult present where applicable.

Director of the Hanley event Bryn Holmes explained: “Well, we often have juniors that volunteer on a weekly basis so we decided to have juniors like the event director, all the way down to the marshals, the scanners – and even down to the ticket sorting-out…”

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Poppy, seven, sorts out the tickets after the run

 

“Hopefully one of the event directors of the future would’ve been here today – you never know!”

He admitted it was mainly the idea of his 11-year-old daughter Millie, who, with another girl, got to be run director – addressing the 232 runners before they all set off.

She admitted: “Yes I was nervous, because it could’ve all gone wrong! It was fun, but kind of harder than I expected.”

You can find out more about Hanley ParkRun here.

Guerrillas in the Mist

I should be grateful my bone has healed!
I should be grateful my bone has healed!

A breather after a block of non-stop working means my exercise activities are totally unrestricted – and I’m loving it.

And as my Guerrillas instructor shouts commands to do burpees that send me scrambling to the floor, or boob-joggling star-jumps, I know I should be grateful.

I no longer hobble. I’m there – in the moment.

It’s worth enduring the rain (the “mist” in the title!) to get there.

That once-broken fifth metatarsal reminds me it’s there – I practically see it shining UV fluorescent green through the side of my shoe, through my skin.

Help me Doctor! Is it Guerrillas or gorillas?
Help me Doctor! Is it Guerrillas or gorillas?

My yoga instructor once told me this “reminder” is the bone’s way of protecting me!

All the same, it’s surreal. It now survives high impact exercises – not only Guerrillas – but running too.

I had to replace my mobile phone recently due to wear and tear – that option simply isn’t as readily available when it’s one of your feet.

Good job the body heals as well as it does!

My battle against vile, flabby, passive femininity – my War on Soft – is making satisfactory progress to date.

Leave the wings where they belong
Leave the wings where they belong

However my latest concern is – now the bingo wings are on their way out courtesy of my upper-body work – am I going to bulk-up?

After all I don’t want to end looking like a gorilla!

“(Women) should lift heavier since they cannot get bigger muscles because of low testosterone levels”, says exercise physiologist and author Dr Jason Karp.

Like, phew!

Another WordPress blog CrossFit Journal has offered some reassurance this won’t happen.

Leading cross-fitter Christmas Abbott is hardly 'bulky'
Leading cross-fitter Christmas Abbott is hardly ‘bulky’

With my short, stocky statue I fear I could go that way – but if I’ve being realistic, I’ve got a very long way to go before that happens, if indeed it does.

For a start, at the moment I can’t even pull myself up whether it’s on rings dangling from the ceiling or on a bar above my head – my arms simply aren’t strong enough to carry my full body weight.

That’ll change, of course!

I'll be able to do this - one day!
I’ll be able to do this – one day!

And the majority of people in today’s class were female (don’t ask me why but the male-dominated ones tend to be more in the evenings) – and I’d say most of them don’t want to bulk-up either!

Frankly, as someone who prides themselves on being unfeminine and unladylike I’m shocked at my typically girly fear of becoming muscular, especially when I know how irrational it is, given my existing knowledge.

I reckon I need to start balancing out the cardio and reintroducing long runs.

It’s all a work in progress – but I’m on it!

My war on Soft

“Hi, is that Soft? Look – we need to talk. You and I are finished.”

soft - marshallowI detest my soft, flabbiness. Guerrilla Training is so right for me – because I know that softness will one day be gone.

And yes, I know that setting fitness goals should not be based on body shame.

It’s just that I’m a work in progress.

Meanwhile I can grunt, pump, swear and generally bash my way out of the more passive aspects of femininity – and that’s just fine by me!

I hate burpees but I hate soft even more!
I hate burpees but I hate Soft even more!

Well do I remember recoiling in self-disgust whenever a bloke I got off with remarked “You’re so soft!”

In Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Kate’s humiliation is complete when, having been “broken” by her husband, he then makes her tell her fellow women why they should be subordinate to men.

Her speech includes the following:

Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth

But that our soft conditions and our hearts

Should well agree with our external parts?

Detail from The Hostile Forces, Beethoven frieze, by Klimpt
UPDATE: I still don’t want to look like this

Of course, this Shrew will not be tamed – and thinking about the above all this helps as I’m wondering “Why in God’s name am I doing these repeated burpees if the last time I tried I nearly threw up?”

Now maybe thinking about Shakespeare when I’m working out is slightly weird – so let’s include that practical Bible of my youth – good old Cosmopolitan.

In a magazine so dedicated to empowering woman, I found it somewhat bemusing to chance upon an article written by a man who really didn’t mind the fact his girlfriend had plump thighs.

In fact I’m wondering if – after the article was published – he still had a girlfriend!

Yep, it works for me!
Yup, it works for me

He luxuriated in the opulence of this poor individual’s cellulite – referring to her upper legs as “two teddy bears” he could snuggle up to in bed, and pondering over why woman’s thighs were not included as an enjoyable non-leafy snack.

So again – armed with my “no man’s going to enjoy my fat” mantra – I spring, jump, hop, star-jump – you name it – as vigorously as I can!

So now you’ve seen inside my mind as I’m working-out – and it’s not very pretty, is it?

All I will say in my defence is that my broken metatarsal – and subsequent ban from the exercise that suited me – did put me that bit nearer becoming the bingo-winged, large-breasted, soft-flabbed creature I dreaded becoming.

I can sooo relate to this
I can sooo relate to this – but I know it’ll be worth it!

I’m looking forward to running my hands down my un-teddy-bear-like thighs and feeling the solid muscle.

And I can’t wait for upper arms that don’t wobble like jelly.

Soft – you and I are so over!

The change won’t happen overnight but it will happen – now the control’s returned.

Now it’s up to me to reclaim the fitness I deserve.