(the finish at Sterkfontein)
As much as I enjoy squash and water aerobics, the ultimate exercise is running.
Of course this relates to me. I have been getting stronger and stronger from first, water aerobics and then later squash. Then as those who follow my blogs will know my one daughter dragged me (pretty much against my will) to do a parkrun with her. In fact she dragged off the whole family. I hated it, but it was strangely compelling. It is quite exhilarating to run in a huge group of people. Where all the runners are suffering together. Nothing beats the feeling when you have finished.
Running is tough and even more so when you are carrying additional weight. Also to start running when you are 59 years old. Proves just how stupid I actually am.
I am an accountant by profession and I love numbers. When you do a Parkrun, they keep your time for you and so you can track your progress. I still have a long way to go. But I am seeing results.
Doing "extreme exercise" does have hazards, especially when doing the Sterkfontein Parkrun. It is over extremely rocky terrein, so there is the risk of injuring your ankles. Basically you run mostly downhill for the first half of the 5km run, then you climb virtually back to the same height as the start within a kilometer then you climb some more to the side of a beautiful cliff with a stunning view and then you run another kilometer (about) back to the start/finish where it ends with a gradual climb. My pulse skyrockets to above the dangerous 175/180 area when I am walking uphill. Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment you feel at the finish, it does not matter if I even come last, because I am competing against myself.
The one female teacher at my wife's school is an extremely accomplished runner, having done lots of Comrades Marathons (90 km in distance) and countless others, said to my wife "he is hooked, he can do nothing about it, he is hooked). She is right, I am hooked.
With my previous health dramas about 4 years ago, I have to be careful. The embulism I had makes me paranoid. Last month I contracted some viral infection in my bronchial tubes, so I did not run for three weeks. Terribly frustrating but I do not want to strain my heart.
So I am back to running as well as I can and my personal bests are being bettered again.
I usually play a friend some squash after the run at just after midday. At first I used to struggle as my legs were without strength, but now a month later, I can cope. This past Saturday, after playing squash, I had a shower and then weighed myself. To my astonishment, since my last weigh in about a month ago, I have lost two kilograms. That is a lot for me. I know why I lost so much weight, running! Even a little weekly 5 kilometer run can make a massive difference. I am very surprised and pleased.
Its as the body builders say: No pain, No gain. After having my life given to me as a gift, I am keenly aware of the blessings of life; nature, my wife and family, to be able to exercise my body and to have a job. Things may be tough and the news depressing, but it is vital to "smell the roses". Open your eyes and ears, you will be amazed at what you can observe.