Pedal power fitness

So a mate, Dave Furmage a local mobile cycle mechanic (amongst other skills) offered recently to go out for a first ride for me once I started getting over January germs. Today was the day, our start time was put back slightly but to be honest it meant the air temperature out of the wind was above 0C.

I am now going to name various locations in and around Purbeck / Poole, if you don’t know the area, visit or take a look via google maps or similar if interested.

I am omitted to tell Dave that previously my average ride length was 15-20 miles, this became relevant later, but he offered a gentle pace and no pressure and that is how it was.

We started outside the Scott Arms pub in Kingston, which 8 live on the edge of. A controlled descent looking out for frosty / iced patches. We got down to Corfe Castle safely and started towards the castle and Wareham. BANG Dave’s back tyre blew out and was loud. A few locals and their dogs were surprised as well. Dave removed the wheel, inner tube to find the biggest tear I have seen in an inner tube. It took two spare tubes for the tyre to stay up, so we continued. We followed the A351 ascending and then turning off the main road at the roundabout for Norden Junction on the Swanage heritage railway. We set off and enjoyed crossing Stoborough heath m

and Middlebere. There were a few uphills that made me work. We proceeded into Wareham and onto the cycle shop to get a new spare tube.

Given the option of going through Wareham Forest or along the Sandford road I chose the former. I have driven past the forest but never walked or cycled there. A mix of coniferous trees, heathland and marshes and sandy trails and lots of stacks of recently cut timber still scented of pine gum.

We took a break for about 10 minutes looking out over Morden bog. It was so peaceful and the sun felt warm.

We continued off road with Dave pointed out a range of local trail options, some of which might be too much on my current bike, well at least with fitness levels. We went through Holton Heath and onto the A35 and a busier road section to the Bakers Arms Roundabout. The back road via Lytchett Matravers led us to Upton where we followed the national cycle route around the path and came out on the shore of Holes Bay, a branch off Poole harbour.

Another rest where Dave decided to knock some gear through the slats of the walkway. He managed to retrieve them very effectively.

We continued along the boundary of the bay and entered Poole and headed for the Quay. We had lunch at Deli on the Quay, run by two friends of Dave. After eating I created my latest #artcards, an initiative I am doing using photo paper as postcards or in some p,aces napkins to produce a piece of original art which is then left as a free gift to its finder as an example of my artwork as AndyKnillArt. (See more details on http://www.andyknillart.com).

Fed, erg well I hasten to say it was onwards around the edge of Poole harbour, through Bater Park used by kite fliers. The sun had gone in and this section was cooler to start as we warmed up again. A few more uphills were much tougher now for me, we went into Sandbanks and arrived just as the chain ferry started to load. A very reasonable cycle fee of £1. Once arriving at Shell Bay, Studland and now back in Purbeck we followed the road to Studland, flat to begin with as it makes it way between the dunes and heathland. As we approached Knoll beach managed by The National Trust we started to climb. I engaged slow mode but kept moving. Any attempt to get out of the saddle and stand on the pedals was met with refusal by my quads. Dave was patient as I gradually ticked off milestones on my ascent of the slope into the Purbeck Ridge which is chalk and runs from the coast inland at right angles to the coast. At last ascending finished and we descended into Swanage. A needed visit to our mutual favourite coffee house in town – Java. Treacle tart with clotted cream, peppermint tea and two bottles of water saw me starting to find some energy. Swanage is where Dave had started this morning.

I now had to ascend the other Ridge to the south of Swanage which is formed of Jurassic limestone, and I live virtually at the top of this. This was going to hurt as by now I knew that by the time I got home I would have covered about 34 miles (go back to that point at the start of this post about recent rides. I gradually rose up the hill through Langton (Matravers). There were many short breaks before pedalling onwards. Once I reached the Ridge there were no more stops. Back to The Scott Arms then back up the steep inclines through the village on West Street and Home.

In conclusion I had a great time, far in excess of any distance I may have done on the rowing machine too. I saw several local places I had not been before and finally I found out that I am fitter than I thought when it came to stamina.

If you have read all of this thanks.

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Fitness update

Sunday Feb 4

Well one fitness device has been used this week. I used the concept 2rower on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The first row was 15 min. The last two have seen me row 5000m each time in just under 22minutes. This is slower than I was doing before I took part in Artisans on the beach and the training tailed off. I am finding adjusting my breathing pattern difficult and am not pushing stamina too much yet.

Today I walked around Corfe Castle so a bit of step climbing and descending.

The bike is due to be used on Tuesday. I will report back after that. I have no plan for my first kayak yet.

Declaration of intent: Feb. 01 2018

I, Andy Knill, do here declare that I now own three fitness items that I will use much more frequently from the above date. I will bore my blog readers senseless or give them an aspect of the blog to avoid if they do not want to see my exercise records.

The items are in order of purchase:

1) My bicycle – bought with money for my 50th birthday in 2014. Used but grossly under used. I have had the generous offer from Dave Furmage to get out and do some morning cycle rides in and close to Purbeck which I need to take him up on. I also need to travel into Swanage for rowing club sessions on 2 wheels not inside a box with 4 wheels. This will mean repeated return journeys up Langton hill which should help my stamina over time. By the time I return to my work at Wareham Boat Hire I wish to cycle on a regular basis to work via Stoborough Heath and on the return journey will have the “pleasure” of Kingston hill up from Corfe Castle.

2) My single kayak (SOT) – bought in August 2016 on arrival in Purbeck before the family moved down from Essex. It has been out in Swanage Bay, Studland bay and on the River Frome. It needs to be used more and in the company of our family double SOT for some family outings. I want to relearn my paddling skills which are useful at WBH too.

3) My concept2rowing machine bought secondhand from another member of Swanage Sea Rowing Club this evening. I have already reopened my online log with Concept2 that I started in Autumn 2001. I have added some recent Autumn 2017 rowing sessions from Instagram that I captured.

It won’t be living in a cosseted carpeted room but it will be used as I need to prove to Anne that I am going to use my fitness equipment. I fully understand her concern / skepticism. At the same time as knowing I want to use fitness as an ongoing strategy for my physical and mental wellbeing I will have to be aware of not overdoing it – this is an aspect of my fitness that in the past has led to illness more than injury to halt my progress.

So watch this space …

Post illness restart

Yes Jan 4 good intentions spoilt by a turn of events. The winter flu crisis affected our home. I was lucky and only got a chest infection which I stopped progressing to bronchitis so no antibiotics needed.

First session back has actually been helping at Juniors rowing tonight and joining in with relay of exercises and 400m rows which thankfully we only did 3 reps of. I managed 1m 52.9 /500m pace then 1m 45 then 1m 44 – in between I clearly didn’t look my best based on the feedback from other adult helpers.

So I restart fitness building. In 2018 I need to use my bicycle a lot; kayak more and complete my weight loss challenge for Artisan on the Beach 2018/19. I crave an improvement in physical fitness to match the massive upturn in my mental health since Jan 2017.

I intend to post how the great scenery about Purbeck and its topgraphy can be enjoyed while exercising. That can also generate bew locationa to return to for restful sketching and artwork.

Back to school …

This afternoon I shall be working in a school during the working week rather than visiting an after hours training event like TMPoole (Nov. 2016) or Pedagoohampshire17 (Sept 2017).

Working, yes; teaching, not as such. While taking part in Artisans on the Beach at Swanage in Nov/Dec/Jan I was approached by a primary school teacher from a local school. They are studying Landscape art and she wondered if I would be willing to come in and work with Years 3 and 4.

Today after communication by email, and cancellations due to funeral / flu I am going in today to do two separate introductory sessions. I shall write more about the experience on my art blog AndyKnillArt.com.

I am looking forward to this as I have been invited as a local artist, my teaching background was unknown to the teacher. I see this as a positive wellbeing step for me as school buildings should not have to be a place to avoid.

Post afternoon post to follow.

Retraining the mind and body to push themselves

Well my second men’s training session since Christmas. Last week it really was a struggle, a good warm up just over 2km and then a 10km Row where my energy levels fell apart between 6 and 8km but I finished in what I consider a slow time at 44min 40ish seconds. This week I wondered how I would hold up to a better attended session and mention of our first race ahead on March 10.

A good start with a warm up of 2.1km. We go through a stepped series of exercises to loosen up for using the ergs (indoor rowing machines later in the session). Then a 5km Row on 25spm and I managed 20min 43 seconds. Again I need to keep working on developing my muscle memory when it comes to inhaling and exhaling at the right time. Then we swopped with others and did a series of weights based exercises, most focusing on developing our explosive start to the rowing stroke / catch and using our legs much more than our arm strength.

Back to the ergo for a pairs exercise 500m each to simulate a racing start on 10 x 3/4 strokes at 28spm, then lengthen to 10 full length strokes at 28 spam, then drop to 24spm for remainder of 500m. Pairs swop after each 500m. We did 4 each so I had rowed 9km in tonight’s session. I got my 500m pace down to 1 min 47.8s which was very pleasing.

Final exercise and one I do not do well at – 70 press-ups and 70 sit-ups. No opting out, I did easier versions of each but managed the full count at last and then some stretching. I know I had worked out hard this evening. The title comes in because I want to gradually raise the limits I can perform to again, this is both a mental and physical challenge to calm the mind and breathing while exercising harder. I have done it previously and I want to again.

Nurture 17/18

My New Year’s Eve blogpost I have now done for several years but in a slightly different format as teaching headings are not necessarily relevant, balancing my life is however.

Work

A new phase completely, no more teaching. At first we considered the idea of me just having a year off – no attempt to work, but that felt wrong to me. I launched AndyKnillArt as a web blog on 31 January. I will review its first year on the first anniversary on www.AndyKnillArt.com. My art has earnt money, I have exhibited and participated in many events – a great success overall. In March I secured a part time job at Wareham Boat Hire with Matt and Julie Jones. The season saw me working at Abbot’s Quay, Wareham until the start of October. I love the outdoor nature of the work, standing in the river, talking with passers by and customers and guiding on safe use of our fleet of craft. I have learnt many skills and I look forward to my second season in 2018. Both of these offer much free time which has been spent with family, especially Anne.

Family

2016 had ended with Mum passing away. 2017 has mirrored this as Dad has passed away too. This time I was with him at the end and felt very privileged to be there to support him. Liz and the New Zealand clan came to visit while over at the start of the year and explore a little of what our new area has to offer. More contact with Jonathan to start the year after a low end to 2016. From May to November came a gap. We have now seen him but the circumstances were difficult and we hope contact can be more regular in the future. Living as a family unit across three generations has taken some adjustments but generally works harmoniously and of course we do live in such a beautiful place. We have also purchased a property to let out in 2018 as an investment for the future.

Exercise

At times too much, at other times gaps have opened up due to overlapping events and a need / desire to pace myself more sensibly. So ongoing membership of Swanage Sea Rowing Club although craft fairs and work at Wareham meant that after the Three Rivers race in March I didn’t compete in any other events until the Swanage Supervets event in October. I continue to help with Juniors on a Monday. My overall fitness has benefitted and rows over the tidal race at Old Harry and along the coast to Dancing Ledge have been highlights in seeing the coast from a different perspective.

My river work in Wareham helped my fitness with lifting and shifting equipment and also meant I did more paddling some in work craft and some in my own kayak . I have also paddled the entire coastal perimeter of Swanage Bay now. More kayaking is needed in 2018. I have underused my bike, it has been used to and from some rowing sessions but I haven’t really done any extended rides. I have achieved a nonstop ride / drag up Kingston hill which I was pleased with. I have walked quite a bit on local trails, some with Anne and some alone.

Learning

Two new jobs, setting up a business and learning other new skills has meant a busy year for learning. Learning I wanted to do in connection with new pathways. I have extended my art skills with attendance at Swanage Art Workshop with Anne which has given us a shared interest and led to new friendships. Art skills, purchasing equipment, self employed tax returns, working and selling at art/craft events including printing, mounting and framing work. The list goes on and on. Using a petrol driven mower…

Connections

After a poor January I cut most of my online ties for a while and closed whole accounts. I am now back online but with far fewer links / contacts and many are new ones that have been formed in the last year. It is difficult to believe when we are in Swanage that we have not been here longer from the number and variety of people we know, are friends with, who we stop to talk with as we make our way around town.

I have remade some of my education connections but steer away from discussing matters in education. I only taught at TSS for 10 Weeks but the lasting connection I made with pupils continues even over a year on and that is immensely satisfying.

Health

Physically I went through a bad passage after straining a shoulder at rowing training and receiving treatment. Otherwise physically, scratched insect bites have been my worst problem, generally I have been physically healthy. My mental health has continued to vary but the differences between high and low are not as wide as earlier in 2017 and suicidal thoughts are not my instinctive reaction to unease. I attend two groups now in Swanage and Wareham where I have made good friends, joined in with facilitating at meetings and even attended a training course with MIND.

I am not making specific plans going forward: we will rent our new property out, I will do Art and work on the river, we will spend time with friends and drinking / eating in various local coffee houses, pubs…, we will spend time together, especially Anne and I. We will continue to watch our wildlife and enjoy our location. We may welcome some of you to visit us. We will look after ourselves physically and emotionally.

Thanks for reading.

Family is …

it is Christmas Day in the UK. I am sure some youngsters will be awake checking if Santa has been. I am sat with our family oldster looking ahead to a calm day if possible in as much comfort as possible. Other family members connected by phone and social media.

family is connecting …. happy connecting to our many friends.

Anniversaries

Yesterday it was the first anniversary of my breaking down/apart in work in front of clients. Today is the first anniversary of my admitting  that was enough and resigning from a career that I was just into my 29th year of.

I have been very conscious of this the last two days and also what I now have as my life and how lucky I am to be in the position I am now in, in terms of where I live,what I do workwise and my family around me. The temptation to wallow is there but I don’t want to wallow because I don’t need to. I have produced several new pieces of art yesterday. I went out and into town today, something I didn’t dare do at this point last year. At the moment I have taken some time out and am enjoying watching  wildlife in the garden. A quiet weekend ahead I think where I can reflect on how lucky I have been and also come a long way in the last year.

World Mental Health Day – Tuesday 10th October 2017

How was it for you? Many friends were in school, some probably wore yellow to show an awareness. Others’ institutions wouldn’t let it disrupt their day I am sure. Last year I wore an awkward mix of many yellows, I had talked about my mental health struggles as part of my introduction to the school in assembly-it has helped when meeting now ex pupils and parents in the months since my final breakdown as a teacher and my resignation from my vocation.

So I know about mental health issues, I left the job that triggered many incidents for me so I must be fine now mustn’t I?

Of course not – I have struggled with these issues since a teenager back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, possibly earlier. it’s part of me. Triggers are many and varied. So Monday 9th circumstances saw me hit a rock bottom day. I knew there were positives ahead, I could mention and acknowledge them -this is new and very encouraging. But essentially there were also thoughts where I considered the whole suicidal concept -it’s not a choice I have ever attempted for real and I don’t want to but it’s an ever present escape that pops up and says hi in times of stress. So I am participating in #Inktober2017 on Facebook and Instagram, it is a daily drawing in ink project for October using a daily prompt, yesterday was #screech, today was #gigantic. I used these in my drawings to be open about my state of mind. I have blogged about it for several years now and don’t really care what response I get, it’s a topic I will continue to stick my head over the parapet to talk about  so that someone might not have to go through the same thing as me.

October 9


Today I have woken in a more positive frame of mind and taken part in the day and exercised at the rowing club this evening both on the rowing machines then out on the water and was able to show this as;

October 10


I have many supportive friends and family members who reach out. Tomorrow on the 11th I will attend one of the two Depression Support Groups I attend -we are sufferers who listen with empathy and support where we can. Sometimes when I am low I resist attending even though it’s the best time for me to go. The key thing s I can always be there to aupport others.

So my WMHD has been an exercise in recovery and reaching out to many others online. I hope your day has been a shared experience today.