Monday, August 06, 2007


What about me?

Somehow or other I've been called inspirational because of my bike riding (thanks BrissieMum..I'll pass it forward in the next post or two..) and I am equally chuffed and nonplussed about it. There are women out there who are far more into the fitness than me, and, sheesh - I don't even have the figure to complement the hype I seem to be perpetrating.

But. Given that everything is relative... If I can inspire anyone of any age to get out and get active then that's all to the good. Maybe people might relate to me because I'm not what you'd call 'athletic'. I'm just 'some random' (as my daughter would say) - with no great sporting heritage and carrying around 10kg more weight than I should be.

As you might have picked up from my last post, I have finally (and somewhat belatedly one might say) realised that exercising is just so good for your health, AND your mind. The earlier you start making it a habit, the better - ie. as a child - but if you can, no matter how old you are, just get out there and start making your heart pump. We ride our bikes with people of all ages - and I am so inspired by the 'oldies'. When I am 75 I want to still be out there with the ability to ride a bike like some of them do. And we keep telling the kids to keep their 'motor' ticking over - and not to lose what they have - because as an adult it is so hard to get it back again once you've lost it.

I didn't do a lot of sport when I was a kid - basically just tennis. Somewhere along the line I played some squash, though not competition. (Too much of a tennis player.) At college I had a go at a few of the team sports I never learnt how to play as a child - a bit of soccer, a bit of softball. But I didn't get really active until around the time I met Marc... With him I started bushwalking, canyoning, rafting, cross country skiing and marathon canoeing. Oh, and I bought my first bike with gears, and we did a couple of mountain bike rides and a bike tour with camping gear in our panniers. I was finally getting my heart pumping - in more ways than one!

The problem with activities like that is that they are pretty hard to do when you have babies and young children. I didn't get round to doing much in the way of exercise (and porked on the weight a bit.) When my eldest was about 9 months old I did find my way into playing Ladies Midweek Tennis for a few years, but then that fell by the wayside (for 8 years!) when we moved here 10 years ago. Marc managed to keep more active - partly because of our 'division of labour', whereby it was easy for him to just leave work and go and play Touch, or volleyball. (He did have me playing volleyball with him, right up until I was pregnant with #1).

My mother disapproved. Because they made the 'sacrifice' of not playing sport when I was a kid. At times I admit I'd get a bit resentful that Marc could just walk out the door without worrying about what to do with the children! (or have to take them with him) ... but at some point I had this epiphany, where I realised how important fitness was for both of us. And if he wasn't leaving work to run up and down a Touch field, he'd still be in the office... And he was working how many hours a week as the sole income earner for the family... (And with all the overseas work he was doing, his fitness was suffering with the inability to get out and exercise for up to several weeks at a time.)

He realised the same about me, and stopped being quite so envious of me getting to play tennis all day, or swan off to a 1pm swimming class, and we've ever since supported each other pretty much wholeheartedly in anything that constitutes exercise. I want to be fitter and healthier (and trimmer) than our parents at 70 when I am that age.

When our older two were about 9 and 7 respectively, I realised that, due to their swimming squad sessions, they were much better swimmers than me! Giving them an hour of swimming up and down a pool each each week was, in fact, a gift to them in terms of giving them cross training/aerobic fitness for anything else they wanted to do. (And their health.)

So I started with an adult swimming squad, and, wow. I loved it. Loved that I was learning how to swim better, but I also loved being pushed to work harder.. because even though I might hate it when I was doing it, I'd feel alive and all 'zingy zing zing' afterwards. I think that's when I realised the concept of endorphins, and all their benefits. Who needs drugs when you can get that buzzy feeling from exercise?!!

While we've always had bikes, we didn't really start riding much, with the kids, until we got the tandems, and, as you know, now we're hooked. And we've found a whole community of bike riders out there.. and it's just great.

And you know what? I am riding at times with people who are around the same age as my parents - but my parents wouldn't have a hope of keeping up with them. I don't know the background of these people, but I do know that I don't think my parents did themselves any favours when we were little by being 'heroes' and not playing sport. Want to be a good role model for your kids? Get out there and get active, and let them see you doing it.

All that said, I still struggle, daily, with my inner sloth. We rode on Saturday - about 50-something km, because we drove half-way to town by which time it was light enough to feel ok riding on the highway.

Yesterday I meant to go out by myself for a ride, but I didn't. So today, I cancelled another appointment I had, and met up with people from the BUG (Bicycle Users Group), and went on a mountain bike ride around a bit of a national park south of Coffs. Almost 30km, including some yee-ha downhills, but also some tough uphills that got the heart pumping alright. We have an aim, you see. On the 26th August, some of us from the BUG are doing a "Century" ride, in the old money. ie. 100 miles. Which is 160km. Madness indeed, but nothing like a bit of madness like that to make you get out to 'train'.

Tonight I feel tired, and a little bit guilty for getting to do what I did today - but dammit, I feel really good 'inside'.

I know that at the moment I am very fortunate to have the time to do this. It is a challenge enough as it is - I seriously don't know how I'd do if I was trying to work as well. (Hopefully by the time I sort myself out in that regard I will have got myself well and truly addicted.) I am also lucky that my body, despite a few little hiccups, is in relatively good working order, and so I can still do most things.

The least I can do is to make the most of what I have - in the hope that I'll have it for longer. And try and remember that I'm supposedly an inspiration to others:

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That you've found something that makes you feel good is wonderful. That it's something you can do without taking food out of the mouths of starving people in exotic locations is even better. Go you!
I am hugely impressed with your activity and attitude. I have returned from holiday with my very own 'saddle bags' attached to my thighs. I would get up and do something about it, but I am wedged too firmly into the chair.
Great post - and congratulations!
Inspirational to me too. I think I'm a bit to over shadowed by the 'sacrifice' overhang my a previous generation too.
Best wishes
Hell yeah that is inspirational. What a great post Tracey. It hit so many home truths with me, especially juggling the kids and exercise and congrats on the new award.
Since meeting you through this forum, you really have inspired me to get off my butt and do something. I hope I can be as bold and adventurous as you and try many different, and challenging things too, in the not so distant future.

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