Yesterday morning when I turned on my training GPS it had this delayed reaction. I was all kitted out and ready to go, turned on the Garmin but there was a delay before it made its customary start-up sound. Almost like a hesitation. And my first thought was: “has it been that long since I’ve used it”? Or maybe it instinctively knew I was going to find ice on my car’s windows when I went outside for my walk, or maybe the battery was just running low, which was of course the most likely scenario. I use it for all my walks because I like to know my (average) pace and distance. It stops me from getting bored and keeps me from slowing down too much (we can’t have that). In my (former) fit days I raced against that GPS – if my pace was slowing down it meant that I had to speed up, which I promptly did – and it kept me motivated to better my pace and times. I love my GPS and feel a bit lost and even aimless if I’m out walking and I can’t use it for whatever reason. It’s like a big part of the purpose of the walk has been taken away. I’m not a runner – dicky knees, torn ligaments and knee reconstructions in my teens have ruled that out – so walking is my thing, but when I want to walk for exercise it has to be at a decent pace that gets my heartrate up – no slow ambling for me then.
There was a time when I was quite fit and did 21km races (I even did a marathon once, a long, long time ago) but training as a walker takes up a bit more time than what training for a running race does (only because I’m not an Olympic-paced or -style walker) and between then and now also lies a back injury, a few years, the standard daily responsibilities of house and work that require time and attention, children’s injuries, etc. In short: life. It happens. For me, the routine of daily exercise has always required a certain almost selfish type of focus that I just haven’t been able to manage recently. Some days I’ve had the best of intentions to go out but then my warm bed seemed a much more attractive option at 5:15am when the alarm went off and it was cold, dark and rainy outside after a long wintry night. Ugh. The sound of the wind blowing and the rain falling is undoubtedly intensified in the darkness. When it’s a bit windy outside but it’s dark and I’m trying to judge how wet I’ll get if I go out exercising it always sounds like it’s blowing a gale and I can visualise dark clouds rolling in readying for the heavens to open as soon as I’m far enough away from home that should I turn back I’d be in as much of a drowned-rat-quandary than if I’d kept going. That halfway point where you’re no better off if you turn back and just have to keep going. Especially windy weather sounds much more drearily miserable and stormy than what it actually looks like and as soon as it’s light and I’m able to see what the weather looks like all my previous conjuring up of terrible winter storms disappear like mist before the morning sun. Its bark is definitely worse than its bite. Some mornings when I’m listening to the weather outside and I check the weather forecast and rain radar on Weatherzone PLUS (which my husband installed for me because it’s much better than Weatherzone) I can’t help but wonder how anyone stays fit – what is the incentive in venturing out into that? But lots of people do – and yet again I have to battle my own weak mind. If I could somehow put the energy utilised by the mind games I play with myself to constructive use I’d be able to do 14 hours of work in a day. Give or take. What should have been a 5km walk then by default becomes a 3km walk otherwise my procrastination would have me turn up late for work. Maybe I should just think about it less and just do it.
As soon as I’ve allowed that tiniest bit of doubt to set in and I lie back underneath the warm covers it becomes ever so easy to come with excellent justifications of why I should stay right where I am instead of venturing out into the cold and dark morning. Exercising in the afternoons has never really worked for me either because it’s so easy to come up with excuses at that time of the day when so many other things are happening, plus there’s always dinner that has to be cooked, kids’ sport commitments, etc, etc. Early mornings are the best time for me because then you get up and go and get it done for the day and it’s such a great way to start your day. I know from experience that once I’m in the routine of doing it daily it becomes easy to do it, and when I was fit I actually, believe it or not, enjoyed it, looked forward to it and missed it badly when I didn’t do it. I loved those endorphins so much. Every morning when I went out the new day felt like a fresh start, albeit a bit crisp in winter. It’s great to see the first rays of daylight coming through and hear the birds announcing the start of the new day. It’s such a peaceful time of day to be out on the road breathing in fresh air and clearing your mind.
It’s not like I haven’t done any exercise at all recently, I’ve still kept going and seen glimpses of my former fit self who used to count my weekly kilometres and kept spreadsheets with details of distances and pb times – oh to be able to walk 10km in under 70 minutes again!! I’ve seen her occasionally, we’re not complete strangers, she has to still be around somewhere. It still annoys me when other walkers jog past me only to slow down to a pace slower than mine as soon as they’ve passed me, after which I’ll pass them going at my consistent pace and peculiar style, and then they actually rustle up another little jog and pass me again, and start walking slowly again in front of me! In fact I find it insulting – it’s like they’re trying to tell me they can go faster than I can (but then by all means keep going faster than me if you want to!) – but after a while they give up. Some give up after being passed about twice, and some doggedly keep doing it for about four or five times in a row. What’s with that anyway? I have no problem with runners passing me (can’t keep up with them anyway) because they’ll keep going at their own pace, neither do I have a problem if someone walks past me – that might bring out my competitive side and make me up my pace – it’s only the silly wanna-be-in-front-of-me-slow-walkers-who-jog-past that get up my nose. I see it as motivation to go faster though, so I probably shouldn’t complain about it too much.
At least my desire to be fit again hasn’t deserted me and as long as that is around I suppose there is hope for me yet, even if my interpretation is that my GPS shows signs of not being used enough. My motto has always been “Never give up” so in my mind there still exists a future fit version of me. Tomorrow morning I won’t hesitate when the alarm goes off, I’ll put on my shoes, go out and go and find that future me. It might take a while to find her but I’m sure she’s out there somewhere and I’m much more likely to find her out there than sitting on this chair and hey, never give up!