Keeping fit in the winter

If you've followed my occasional blog posts about my wee fitness journey, you'll know I spent several weeks getting fit with the help of an expert and then, after the training was finished, went my own way.

I'm now able to run for half an hour on a good day, which is an amazing achievement for me.

However, I must admit it's been a real struggle just getting to the gym.  Working up motivation to brave the dark, wintery nights has been incredibly difficult - and all too easy to make excuses to go tomorrow.  

How do I overcome this?
Something that's really helped with this is badminton.  Invitations to play and regular Monday night doubles give me greater accountability thanks to its social nature.  And, knowing I have to go to the sports centre means it's easier for me to say to myself: "Let's do a quick run!" or "Let's do some arm exercises!" 

What improvements have I made?
When I first poked my head shyly through the door, I had chunky trainers, a chewed-up (the cats will eat any plastic they can get their paws on) Co-op bag to store my kit, no racquet and very little skill.  

Fortunately, I got a lot of help and advice.  I ditched the trainers for a sleeker, more supportive pair.  And, although I suspect it'll be 2023 before they arrive, I've just ordered some exciting new pieces of kit, including a new racquet, badminton bag and new shoes!  

Another thing I learned was not to skimp on the warm up.  "Pfft!" I thought to myself, until quite recently.  "I don't need to warm up!  Stupid waste of time!  Let's just get on with it."  

Foolish Roz.  There's a reason why professionals spend time warming up - and I soon found out what it was when my Achilles' tendon started twanging away like a poorly plucked guitar string.  I was forced to cut short my run and rest.  Since then, I've implemented a morning-Achilles'-tendon-strengthening-routine (MATSR) for short and been careful to warm up before exercising.  

I've also been watching a lovely pair of enthusiastic, professional badminton players on YouTube.  Greg and Jenny of Badminton Insight create videos that are appropriate for players of all levels - delivered in a way that's easy to understand.  Plus they sometimes add their blooper reel to the end of the video, which is always amusing!  This has definitely helped me improve and highlight mistakes I was (and still am!) unwittingly making.

I was fortunate enough to play at the Skye & Lochalsh Restricted competition in Plockton - and took home three medals with my lovely (and very patient) doubles partners.  This was my second ever badminton event, so I was absolutely thrilled at this result.  Since that day, I feel my game has really improved - and now there's an added incentive when I know matches are coming up.  

Does it really matter?
Isn't it all about having fun?  Why take it so seriously?

Unfortunately, my nature is very much geared for constant improvement.  While I don't let this get in the way during a match (e.g., I don't dwell on poor shots in the past, resulting in more mistakes), this can mean I get so focussed on improving, I forget to enjoy where I am.  So that's something else I need to work on.  

But, yes, for me it does really matter.  I don't see the point in playing without trying to improve - although I fully appreciate not everyone feels this way and nor should they.  Having fun is extremely important, and I appreciate being reminded to just enjoy things.  

So there we go.  The fitness update no one asked for.
My main goals with these occasional blog posts are to help people get to know me and my interests.  It's often helpful to feel a personal connection with someone before we work together.  After all, as a copywriter I'll be working closely with yourself or your team and this can give an insight into my personality to determine if I'd be a good fit.

My secondary goal is to show that if I can do this, anyone can.  I spent about a decade sitting down, with my main exercise occasional trips to the kettle.  My lovely mum tried to encourage me to exercise, but I didn't see the appeal in dragging myself round a mud-soaked field, being bent horizontal by the biting wind.  But I finally saw for myself the importance of keeping fit - and it was very much an uphill struggle at first.  Working up motivation was harder, for me, than actually doing the exercises.  Once I got a pattern going, it did become easier and, although I'm still in hibernation/winter mode, I'm confident I'll find it easier still when the days get a bit lighter.  But, maybe if you've had an office job for many years and you're thinking about taking first steps towards getting a wee fitness routine, I hope my experiences might be helpful.