Tag Archives: exercise

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.

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Living a dream …

For those of you who read and support a bit of an update. GOB is now 61 days, on the 12 March my first journal will be full. I attended Teachmeet Poole last week (Thursday 23 Feb) and as a presenter received a nice notebook which I shall use to continue the GOB journey.

Those who know my background and change in circumstance might well challenge, why is Andy at a teachmeet? It’s a fair question. I had looked up to see if Jenna Lucas’ TMBournemouth would be on and found details of the event in Poole on Differentiation. I immediately thought what about a piece on Solo Taxonomy, whose enthusiasm has not left me. I offered my services and settled to participate in the break marketplace and fill any other gaps that arose. I ended up in a mock classroom in the corner of the school theatre presenting to the entire teachmeet. Not what I had expected but I just got on with it. I loved talking about Solo. As I finished I made the point, from the chap in shorts and polo shirt, that this was my first time in a school building since November when I had a nervous breakdown and left teaching. It was a great evening to see the enthusiasm of young staff. There was repetition of many familiar ideas I have seen previously but I was left to wonder how long they would stay in teaching and knew it was unlikely to be as long as I had managed and that still upsets me.

Anyway apart from that I have been sketching with other artists for PAW (Purbeck Arts Week) at The Etches Collection – fossils of Kimmeridge. I liked the setting, found the number of experienced artists quite intimidating tbh. However it was a link back to degree days with Jo Angseesing my palaeontology lecturer. In fact my eyes were drawn a lot to the architecture after the urban sketching trips I have attended with both London and Cambridge groups previously. I have taken some photos to allow follow up on this.

Yesterday, March 2nd, I had a conversation with a mental health professional about a local programme Steps to Wellbeing, and after being very open and honest about what the last six months have been like – a range of triggers, it was felt and I agree that I am doing all that I can to recover and don’t need additional input outside what I am doing already for myself which overall is working. Yes there are slips and dips but that is the nature of depression and anxiety. In fact after the phone talk I went out on an standee walk from the house along the SW Coast path. T-shirt, shorts, walking boots and a sweatshirt for when I stopped plus camera. In the end I walked about 8 miles, took over 200 pictures (the advantage of digital) many of landscape and waves, enjoyed fresh air and sunshine, got muddy but felt great.

Today the weather is back to cloud, wind, rain and more time indoors I suspect.

A rambling post, not pre planned as usual but flowing from my thoughts. I live in a wonderful place, I have an active lifestyle. I share delights of hares, deer, numerous birds with most of my family. I live a sort of semi-retired status and it suits me.

Our friend Morris the Mad March hare who may mean we have ravaged lavender bushes, but it’s a price worth paying.

Finding your fitness match

I have always been active, the level of which has varied throughout my life. I have tried a range of sports both team and individual. I have increasingly done more of the latter but have now returned to an activity I did as a ten aged Sea Scout – sea rowing.

On a previous holiday to Mevagissey, Cornwall I espied the local club out rowing early one morning as I was taking photographs. I contacted them on their Facebook page and managed to go for a trial row – loads of errors but it relit a desire to row on the sea again. When I was a Sea Scout I had rowed with the 1st St Peters-in-Thanet group. We rowed from Broadstairs, Kent but also did trips up the River Stour towards Canterbury and went on trips to places like Chatham dockyard which was still a naval base in my youth.

So while on holiday in Swanage at Easter (2016) I saw they had a club and said if we ever lived somewhere like this I would want to try this. 5 months later I moved here and joined just one club to start with!!

I really enjoy my rowing with Swanage Sea Rowing Club. I am currently working towards participation in my first event in the Men’s B Boat for the Three Rivers event at Saltash in March. I am training four times a week on average – two indoor training sessions on the rowing machines and two weekend rows on the sea or today the River Frome downstream from Wareham.

I also assist at Juniors on a Monday evening which continues the interest I had in running clubs at Mark Hall School (2002 –  2006) and Bower Park (2010 – 2014). I realised today when chatting that I have been Erg-ing now for 16 years.

So, in conclusion – find something you enjoy and try it.

Positive steps

A busy week: two days back in Essex collecting final items from our home that completed on Wednesday so we are now confirmed Dorset residents. A return journey that took in a camera shop in Sussex, a drive through the South Downs, a visit to theNew Forest – to look at cars, but we did see ponies too.

Two indoor rowing sessions where effort was on technique and I knew I had done a workout. This morning due to a numbers I did two rows on the sea before conditions made it impossible for the 10 o’clock group to go out as the wind picked up. Yes it was cold but even gloves and hat were dispensed with as the energy levels went up. Tomorrow I get to be in the 9 o’clock boat on the River Frome at Wareham which will be a new experience being in a gig on the river.

Bought a camera and taking lots of wildlife pictures of garden birds, pheasants and some deer too. Gradually uploading these onto my computer to edit and decide which are suitable for prints / cards or as inspiration for art pieces.

Artwork done on greetings card master cards from oldselected sketches. Also out for walks… so a good week overall.



Making a difference

A difference to me, to the property where I live, to my state of mind.

Over the last few weeks since my visit to the GP on 14th November I have tried a number of diversions to distract my mind, work my body to just be. Some days these aims have not worked. Successful activities so far include retail therapy, local walks, errands, visits to local sites eg Corfe Castle, exercise, eg cycling or sea rowing training.

Since  we moved into our home in Dorset I have wanted to start investigating and developing the grounds. So far this was mainly limited to leaves – leaves on the grass, leaves in drainpipes and drain holes. 

Then I looked more carefully about the out- building behind our garage. There was a lot of overgrown parts that just called to me to explore so im the last week or so I have started to do that. I have raked, pulled out plants, added to our growing garden pile (? Compost heap to be). 

Discoveries have been more extensive stonework than previously thought. Then I spotted some stones in the ground and I have removed matted overgrowth to start to reveal what lies beneath. 

This will be a long project but I am sure we will leave a positive mark on this property. I will continue to identify new species of garden birds as we put food out for them. I will learn tree species, plant species and animals. I hope to grow some vegetables but this will also be a new adventure. 

The photos below show some examples of recent before and currently shots.


This is a more positive thread to working on my mental health.

#connect #exercise #learn #notice #volunteer in a day to end the year

Thursday / New Years Eve – a gentle day, not as a precursor to wild partying as I am far too boring for that, I will enjoy Hootenanny as usual. This afternoon a late walk was decided upon. Our first port of call at the local reserve at Hanningfield Reservoir was curtailed as another family told us (#connect) the centre had just closed. So back into the car, a plan B was rapidly formed and we set off for Galleywood Common on the southern side of Chelmsford. We have been there very few times previously – some puddle splash trips when the boys were about 2 (now approaching 18 and 20); some off-road biking, kite flying and walks. The common lies alongside our usual route into Chelmsford and includes open common, woods and a fenced off area that looks like a racecourse circuit for horses.

So we arrived and parked. Boots on we got out and started to walk (#exercise). We headed up through a wooded section and soon found ourselves an open grass area and a second car park we had never realised existed (#learn and #notice). The walk continued and we found details of how the “racecourse” should be used by horse riders a only the inside track marked by white topped posts and at no more than a trot. We discovered a pub, heritage centre and tea room, church and churchyard all of which we were completely unaware of before. We followed the outskirts of the common and returned to our starting point. What had looked like a fairly mundane walk had turned into a voyage of discovery (on a small scale). 

Once home my measly (#volunteer) bit was to relocate the green garden and food waste bin back where it belongs.

This all stems from the #teacher5aday movement that I have been involved in and an advocate of this last year. I haven’t posted a set of targets for 2016 as I believe they mesh easily with my targets under the last post for #Nurture1516.

I wish all who read my posts a happy and relaxed 2016 wherever possible.

Thanks to #teacher5adaype

Earlier in the year, in October,  I took part in an initiative called #teacher5adaype in which Jonny McLoughlin (Twitter @MrMcLoughlin_PE) provided a month’s programme of exercises. Included were points about hydration, rest, balance and some exercises I have not done in a while.

I had just joined a gym as part of my mental health therapy / recovery and became hooked on the ever increasing reps / seconds combination of wall sits, planks and squats. It’s now December, I have been into school so contracted germs of course and was looking for a sensible workout this morning as a spin class was out of the question. I took myself back to those familiar exercises combined with some gym taught stretches and managed three rounds of 60s wall sits, 60s planks and a combination of other stretches – did it hurt? Yes but meant that I could then do some steady cardio on the rowing machine and get back into the gym and feel achievement.

All I have to do now is keep exercising through the break pre the New Years resolution crowd joining up.

Patience isn’t easy, but I’m working on it…

So Wednesday was a good day after two BD (Black Dog) days. Well, good news, the week continued positively and I had three positive days consecutively, but I was worn out on Friday. The new gym subscription saw me exercise Wednesday and do Bodybike class (all indoor cycle classes depending on trade name involve same sort of thing) on Thursday evening. I also went to the Beth Chatto Gardens in Elmstead Market, Essex with my wife and Mother in law, the gardens were lovely and I admit they sparked ideas for planned long term project with science department at school linked to John Muir Trust Award scheme and Greater London National Park proposal… A slip but a positive one. 

Friday saw me very weary in the morning but a visit to local nature reserve without lots of young families on the Wind in the Willows trail meant it was quieter. Identified two new unknown spottings – immature cormorants and their lighter fronts and Pintail ducks. Watched New Zealand v Tonga in the RWC and played taxi drive for youngest son.

In the evening on Twitter found myself drawn into chats about teacher workloads and new GCSE specifications – or lack of approved final specifications. So yes, work related but again one of the key pressure areas for departments this year preparing for September 2016. I had chatted with a few colleagues on Facebook on Thursday evening and it was nice to have some contact again. I feel guilty when absent – not surprising and I know, … Also completed paperwork so I can see Occupational Health and rang employee support service who I will recontact once I have had second GP review.

It’s Saturday, I woke early and watched YouTube clips which means I will have to get Cedric my cello out again soon and challenge myself to play after watching videos by the 2cellos who I was aware of already but also Emil and Dariel, two American teens who are the junior equivalent of the Croatian pair. This morning sees me doing the 9.15 Bodybike class. On Thursday after class Andy, the instructor, enquired about how my running training is going – doing a 10km on 1 November – I admitted lots of cardio but no running as I find exercising outside alone my mind wanders and I am avoiding that at present. It turns out he and I have both gone through the #mentalhealth mill and he offered support which is appreciated too. As he said even though I struggled at times on Thursday, I was in the class and I finished it – two positives.

So, for those of you reading my posts and commenting on here or via Twitter (@aknill) thank you for your continued support it really is valued.

Exercise continues …

Run 2, Tue 4 August – being sensible went for shorter 3k route, timing wasn’t as good as eaten two to three hours before and this me at had to slow down as jolting was not agreeing. But more confident run than first.

Cycled – Mon. 3 August – suggestion I get out and exercise as bit low, so did local route around reservoir… About 16 miles – should have changed sooner after return as damp kit on back meant achey.Tue am.

“Race” well 10k event now entered properly so work towards 1 November – friends on Twitter were lending ideas of plans they have used, may look at but not been a plan follower previously.

…onwards …

Back to exercise

Yesterday, Wednesday 29 July I went to a running shop in Chelmsford and with the help of a very knowledgeable man called David tried on, jogged on a treadmill and had my gait commented on to select two new pairs of running trainers – a road pair and a trail pair. Now with proper protection for my lower limbs I can start the plan to run again.

I have run on and off since the age of 14 and been reasonably successful in my time with PBs (Personal Bests), though not a great race winner. It has been the sport that I always return to after breaks. This break has been much longer and I left my running club after 19 years about four years ago. Exercise has always been a great way to destress and recently it hasn’t been there so it is way overdue to be back as part of my life – adrenaline, endorphins and good old fashioned sweat from pushing myself. I had a reputation at the running club that I would always come back too quickly so setting myself monthly targets for distance run without stopping and a race target (I will be aiming to finish, not compete with others) on 1 November over 10 km. 

So, today I went for a walk in a local nature reserve with Anne, we walked further as we followed an art trail of 47 hares produced by Thurrock yr 5 pupils. We walked with 47 stops for about 90 minutes, but v gently as we had to watch the ground carefully so that we did not turn our ankles. After some other errands we returned home, I changed and having identified some local loops and out and back routes using ArcGIS app yesterday I set off to see if 5k-ish was achievable straight off.

  
Well, my feet were comfortable, my style good, my body heavy and I. Felt like a bit of a slug to be honest. It is a gradual incline on the out leg. I wanted to stop on several occasions but kept going to the turn around. On the way back lethargy kicked in and I stopped – well I did keep walking a few attempts but on last road that hpgoes round area I managed to jog again. Last hill I walked. About 3km jogging and 2 km walking I reckon. Overall it had taken me about 35 mins (click in house before and after). That was faster than I expected, but the targets became clearer.

Target 1 – tell a range of friends online I am returning to running – support / heckle as required

Target 2  – enter said race: Billericay Striders 10km so commitment to target made.

Monthly targets

August – be able to run upto 5km without stopping

September – be able to run up to 8km without stopping

October – be able to run up to 10km without stopping

November 1 – complete race – I admit I would like to hit 60 minutes or just under.

Review and set new target(s)

So there we are, instead of boring @staffrm with my running as it is part of my #teacher5aday commitment to exercise more, I will blog here, not every run probably but an ongoing measure. After all you don’t have to read my posts, but if you do and you comment thankyou.