Saturday, 31 January 2015

Never too old



I never thought that I would run a half marathon. Certainly never in a reasonable time. School sport wasn't really for me. Too uncoordinated for things like gymnastics, completely the wrong build for throwing things, useless at jumping over or across things, couldn't see the point of netball... I quite liked hockey but couldn't be part of the school team because fixtures were on Wednesdays and that was Music Centre evening over at Barnstaple. I also liked cross country but we didn't do that very much, and again any running fixtures were on Wednesdays. Since I had decided from about the age of 12 that music was going to be the thing I did, Music Centre won hands down. During my late teens and early twenties I did a bit of jogging. Nothing much, and never kept it going for long but perhaps there always was a runner trying to get out.

Many years later here I am following training schedules and setting new running goals. Even on occasion buying running magazines, although not often because really they all say the same things all the time and just plug the 'desirable' running body and the latest running gear fashions the same as any women's magazine. It's too easy to get hung up on what you think everyone else is doing/ wearing/ what their figure is like and end up feeling inadequate. But that's another thought for another day. I even have a Garmin thingy although I often don't look at it until after a run. But I do also like running 'naked' (see, if you're not a runner you'll now think I'm really weird!). When training for a specific race I get sports massage twice a month. It's all pretty serious stuff- but fun too, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it.

And here I am having embarked on another journey- karate. That one is really surprising! My children are in their 5th year of karate now and it is wonderful to see how they have developed in terms of confidence and general fitness. As I've taken them to training I have watched the black belts and been in awe of what they can do. It's beautiful- like a lethal ballet. I wanted to do that too, but pre-osteoporosis just thought 'no way could I ever learn that!' and post-diagnosis assumed it was a door that would always be shut. So when Sensei Gareth mentioned he might run a class for adults I was so excited but anticipated him saying no, it wouldn't be safe for me.

He didn't say no. So in October I went to my first ever class, absolutely terrified. There was me, another beginner and a couple of black belts. Despite my nerves I enjoyed the training so much. It was all utterly bewildering- as an adult it's very challenging having absolutely no idea about anything you're supposed to be doing and being not even on the same planet as your comfort zone. In terms of my day job it's extremely useful going through this kind of learning experience as it is a constant reminder to me of how many of the children I work with experience school. And for my own development it's such a boost when I start learning a kata feeling like I'll never get it but with a week's intensive practise coming back and getting it more or less right.

There are things that I'll probably never really get the hang of simply because of my age- I am fitter and stronger by far than in my twenties but those extra years do make a difference. But there's so much I can still learn. Concentration, the focus to keep going even when it hurts or it all goes wrong; finding out just what I am capable of- how to use little pockets of determination or aggression to my advantage.

As adults we get to learn things in more detail from the start compared to the classes for the kids. That can be a source of frustration as much as inspiration. It's great knowing that you're learning to do something at the standard of the higher grades but at the same time it's SO hard putting together all the technical details and getting them all to work! For example you get the stance right- hips in a slightly forward tilt, nice wide stance, core engaged, breathing focussed, but then you forget to turn your wrist at exactly the right moment or make a slightly lazy movement with an arm. Doing all the bits right every time is really challenging. But when all the pieces do fall into place the feeling is amazing! Like running you feel as though you could go on for ever when body and mind are co-operating properly and everything just flows.

And so I now train 2 hours every week as well as practising at home most days. I'm hooked!

Best of all, I'm learning all the time. About what my body can do; about my ability to learn and tough it out; and about having fun. And about how wonderful people are- when it's a bad day I just have to turn up to a club run or karate training and I feel better almost immediately.

Aren't people amazing?

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