This year is becoming the year of cross-training. Of course running will still be my number one love, but in respect of my ever-increasing age, I'm trying to find other things that will enhance my running experience. So many runners do yoga or pilates, I decided to get on the band wagon. I'm not prepared to go to a class but I am prepared to buy a few DVDs so I can fit the workouts in whenever I have time. And at the moment I'm on holidays so time is not an issue. Yesterday I decided to put on my DVD at around 3pm and this is how I went trying to find my Zen. (This is an insight into the strange place that is my head and my home)
First clear the lounge of all impediments. That means removing the coffee table - a workout in itself, shifting the dogs' bed and the dogs, finding the source of that unimaginable smell (Nelson suffers from a little incontinence and sometimes leaves gifts on his bed). Next change into comfortable workout clothes - an old sports bra that has weird stains on it and a pair of running shorts. Try to avoid looking in the mirror and if it can't be avoided pull stomach in and pretend there's no cellulite on the legs, it's just the bad lighting in the bathroom. Pray to the gods of kindness that there will be no unexpected visitors, no delivery men and especially no clients that turn up in the next hour.
Cue DVD. Two fit girls are on yoga mats on the top of a cliff overlooking the sea. There's the peaceful sound of waves crashing on the shore and gentle music playing in the background. Both girls are in crop tops and tights and have abs to die for.
We start doing some gentle warm ups. A little Vinyasa yoga where we concentrate on breathing with the movement. What's that smell? I thought I got rid of it all but there's still a smell. Can't I breathe in through my mouth? They're on the top of a dog-turd-free cliff with just the smell of the ocean - of course THEY can breathe through their noses.
The movements become more challenging - meaning she (the pretty blond instructor with abs of steel) tells me to lie on my left. Which is left again? I pretend I'm holding a pencil and in the meanwhile she's completed four repetitions and I have to play catch up. Finally I'm on my left side and she's now swapped to her right. I remember the remote control, try and rewind but manage to press skip instead of scan and all of a sudden we're at the beginning of the DVD again. Damned stupid thing.
I press forward very carefully and manage to find my spot again. Press pause do a quick tutorial on right and left then press play. And we're off.
There's a lot of instruction on correct technique . Stretching out your spine long. Keeping the quadriceps tight. Pointing the toe. Ouch! Cramp!! Cramp!! I stop and stretch my foot and massage out the cramp.
There's lots of Downward Dogs and a lovely flowing sequence that I soon get the hang of. My own downward dog decides to pay me a visit. No problems, Nel. I'm feeling pretty mellow I can open my heart and share this patch of universe with you. We roll onto our left side again and all of a sudden I see the source of the smell. Pause!! Find a tissue. Off to the toilet and a quick flush. Good to go again.
At this point Iven arrives home. He's clearly fascinated by the strange things I'm doing on the carpet and by the voice of the instructor.
"Is that an Asian girl?
I look at the blonde girl on the screen and shake my head - trying not to interrupt my breathing and concentration. Damn, which is my left again? Too bad - she can't see if I'm right or left so I'll just do this side and then I'll do the next.
"It sounds like she's Asian"
"No, hon she's definitely a blonde with an Australian accent"
"Doesn't sound Australian to me"
In the meanwhile the girls on the cliff have moved on and I have no idea what they're doing. I press rewind again.
My mobile goes off. Fat bottomed Girls by Queen which means that it's either Josh or Coach Chris (Coach Chris used to be No Air by the cast of Glee but for some reason I can't get it to upload on my new phone). I press pause and answer it. Coach Chris.
Twenty minutes later I've stiffened up but I press start again. We're on to hip stretches and it's just what my rusty runner's hips need. I'm sitting cross-legged, arms stretched out as far as I can in front and head almost on the floor. Unfortunately I can see my exposed abdomen. Man, that's gross. Look at your tummy then look at theirs. Where's the six-pack? And six rolls doesn't count as a six-pack. I try to forgive my rolls - after all I've had three kids and I'm 48 and the girls on the screen might total that if we add up their ages. We stretch around to the right and hold it for six breaths then we stretch to the left. My head ends up on Nelson's butt and I regret my previous at-one-with-the-universe decision to let him stay. Please don't fart. Please don't fart. Please don't fart.
Luke comes into the room and asks which car he should take to work. I let Iven answer but Luke NEEDS my input.
"Take whichever one you want. I don't care!!" Breathe in, breathe out. Let the tension go.
"And could you BOTH BE QUIET?!!"
Luke leaves. Iven leaves. And Nelson leaves. Finally I'm alone with the sound of the waves and the gentle music and the two girls who could break rocks on their abs. And finally the DVD is coming to an end. We're doing some restorative poses which are a lot like stretches that I've been doing for years. The last one is my favourite. I lie flat on my back. I wiggle my toes to relieve any tension in my feet then I wiggle my fingers and immediately Bubbles, who's been watching the whole thing from the couch, jumps down and flings herself on my hand. Apparently finger-wiggling is doggy code for 'come have a pat'.
And despite all that when the DVD ends I feel surprisingly good. But next time I'm doing it when no one is home.