Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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A year of healthy changes

My year of health-based changes – a response to this health and wellness prompt.

Last summer I found out that I was coeliac, and needed to cut out gluten from my diet. No bread, pasta, pastry, cakes… Yes, I do miss them sometimes, and reading packets for ‘hidden’ gluten can be tedious. Some complete supermarket aisles are off-limits for me. It also make eating with others more complicated (Do I ask about ingredients or just eat lettuce and tomato?), but to be honest, I think I’m pretty fortunate. Someone else at work had similar symptoms at the same time, and had to have surgery for bowel cancer. All I’ve had to do is change my diet.

rice cakes

I discovered that I really like rice cakes a few months before being diagnosed as coeliac. Very convenient for lunches and on holiday.

Mrs Crimble's Jam Coconut Rings - gluten free and mmmmmmm!

Mrs Crimble’s Jam Coconut Rings – gluten free and mmmmmmm! I may have eaten rather too many of these.

In December I started the NHS couch to 5k running programme. It hasn’t all been easy – there have been some bumpy patches on the way, and weeks with very little running, but overall it has made me fitter, and changed the way I see myself. Most runners seem to run further and faster than me (and some dog-walkers are still faster), but I have repeatedly surprised myself with what I can manage, and that has made me stronger.

Along with running, I re-discovered yoga, after a 20-year break. Yoga has really helped me improve my posture, always pretty poor, and getting worse from too many laptop hours.

My most recent wellness move has been to find out more about mindfulness meditation. The yoga had started me off, and the web and various books have helped me on my way. I took some convincing that it could work for me, an obsessive-compulsive worrier, but I can definitely feel a real change.

I love being able to find little patches of calm and quiet – even a few seconds focusing on breathing or hearing the sounds around me can open up space when my mind starts whirling, and longer sessions give me time to catch up and slow down. If you’ve never tried it, go and read up on mindfulness meditation now!

So, what health changes should I try next?

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Chilled yoga

Back to work after half term.  Yippee.  I feel fully back into the swing of things already.

The good side is after-work yoga – 90 minutes of stretching and relaxing.  Very chilled, so much so that I had to keep my eyes open in the final relaxation session, because I kept feeling that ‘uh!’ sensation you get just as your muscles spasm when you’re dropping off to sleep.  I do not want to be the first person to snore in front of work colleagues.

Now, nothing to do with yoga, but I wanted a pretty picture, and one of the prettiest things in our garden are the buttercups.  So here’s Creeping Buttercup, which has runners, and is thus very appropriate for Juneathon (leaves in the background are Woundwort, which stink).  We also have Meadow Buttercups and Bulbous Buttercups.  Lucky us.

Creeping Buttercup, Ranunculus repens


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Thinking about Juneathon 2013

dsc03933-me-in-disguise-from-the-wind.jpg IMG-20130521-00055 rape field beyond parkrun route c

I’ve just completed the 5×50 challenge and want to keep up doing exercise every day, although not necessarily for 5k/30 minutes.  So the Juneathon seems like a good idea.  Keeping a record of the exercise I do every day does help to motivate me to do something, and it would be good to have some photos with it too.

So I think I’ll do it.

Background: I was pretty much PE-phobic at school, always very slow and lacking coordination, except for swimming.  I don’t think I’d run for longer than a minute or so since I was at primary school (where I was the slowest in my class).  I do enjoy walking in the countryside, though only fairly short distances in more recent years.  A long time ago I did a bit of yoga, and I used to enjoy cycling, but I hadn’t done either of those for ten or twenty years.

For some reason, that I can’t remember, I started the NHS Couch to 5k (c25k) programme on 15th December 2012, with eight lots of 1 minute runs, with walks in between.  I commented:

…even if I don’t get to 5k running, it has got me outside and exercising again, so that’s good – and this seems a very friendly and supportive community too.

The community is here – brilliant support for anyone new to running.

I completed the programme on 13th February 2013, and found this quote that sums up running for me:

 Being allowed to do something really badly without anybody being upset is a joy.

I ran just over 3k in 30 minutes in my final week (4.1k in 40 minutes on my final run) – so I am seriously a tortoise runner, as this is slower than my brisk walk.  I was overtaken by a man walking his dog on my ‘graduation’ run.  🙂  I have since run 5k and I have once run 10k (in 100 minutes).

In most weeks recently I’ve done two or three runs, and from 31st March to 19th May I did the 5×50 challenge, as mentioned above, which got me starting to doing yoga again, and cycling – including several 10k+ cycle rides, and one of 26km, on the final day of the challenge.  In total, over the 50 days, I ran 54k, walked 95k, cycled 92k and did 75 hours of yoga or other exercise.  So it would be  a pity to lose that fitness.

I’ve also challenged myself to do a little bit of faster running – I’ve once run a mile in ten and a half minutes, and today I ran for a minute and a half at average speed of 11kph (5:26 min/km).  Maybe one day I’ll be able to keep that up for 30 minutes for a parkrun.  Hmmm.

And sometimes I take myself a bit too seriously.  🙂