Getting Yoga?

It’s hot and getting hotter!

Glacier-du-Tour

(Glacier du Tour)

The summer has already surpassed last years in terms of sunny days and the temps are rising!

Although the weather can change quickly out here so we just have to take it day by day, but its already been better than last summer so things aren’t bad!

I had a late finish to my winter this year with the Kamchatka trips and didn’t get off the snow until mid May.

I missed the 2 weeks of constant downpour and mud slides whilst I was in kamchatka and when I arrived home the weather was already warm and sunny and so I feel like I kind of skipped the Spring and went straight into the summer, which is great!

Although with it being so warm for so long already, it kind of makes me feel like the summer must be nearly over already!

AAArgh! surely not! But then we’re already heading into July and I’m heading into my busy work period with multi Mont Blancs and other high peak based activities, after which I need to start to get everything ready for the winter and the never ending seasonal cycle continues…

Speaking of cycles, I’ve just finished 2 weeks of work on my Bike with Alpine cycle training gurus GPM10.

I rode a Grandes Alpes tour to Nice starting with the famous ascent of the Alpe de Huez.

Alpes-de-huez

(the savage climb of the Huez)

Unfortunately besides the predominantly pleasant weather we experienced sleet and snow over the high cols of the Galibier and Bonnet, but our arrival in Nice was quite nice…

NIce-by-bike

(Nice by bike)

On arrival in Nice, we then headed straight over to Biarritz for a trans Pyrenean crossing.

The weather was perfect the whole way and once again I fell in love with the incredible sauvage terrain of the Pyrenees.

Pyrenees-watermill

(the Pyrenees always impress me with their wild beauty)

The riding was as always amazing, steep, hard, inspiring and beautiful all at the same time.

tourmalet-pyrenees

(Tourmalet)

col-de-Aubisque-pyrenees

(Aubisque)

One of the coaches/guides working with me is an ex Pro cyclist turned elite Marathon runner, but just to prove he could still do a bit on the bike, he rode in the big ring all the way up the 20K climb of the Tourmalet and scored a 12th place on Strava…

jonny-tourmalet-pyrenees

(Jonny in the big ring up the Tourmalet)

It just happened to be my half day in the car, so I got to follow the performance and must say that it was definitely one of the most impressive rides I’ve ever seen. (I made a mental note to make sure it was my turn to drive when he was riding!)

col-de-tourmalet-pyrenees

(the col de Tourmalet, the average age of the riders, and there were thousands of them must have been mid 50’s!)

Coliour-night-light

(arrival in colliour at the end of the trans pyrenees)

Inspired…I rode up the Col des Montets in the Big ring the other day but scored a time a couple of minutes off my best…

col-des-Montets

(The view from the col des Montets isn’t so bad either!)

I guess it just felt harder and slower! Oh well, I guess its a start…I’ve only been on the bike for 3 weeks after the whole winter off, but the legs are definitely on their way back…its work in progress and the power is itching up everyday…

One thing that I have been concentrating on for the winter and now carrying on through the summer is Yoga!

Having thought Yoga was an excuse for Ruth to go meet her mates for some breathing and a bit of a natter, I went along to one of the classes last Autumn…

I’ve always been quite flexible from doing Tae Kwon Do and I stretch for about half an hour every morning and so thought it would be a bit easy but a nice excuse to have a relaxing stretch with out the dogs, cats and our girls tripping me up…

Man, was I in for a shock!

Deep relaxing breathing was definitely lacking from my repertoire as I trembled, sweated and panted my way through the numerous poses designed solely for what can only be described as pure whole body torture…

I ended the first session sweaty and exhausted…but also feeling great and so was inspired and keen to explore my weakness’s and the possibilities that Yoga might bring…

Many of my regular blog readers might remember that I spent a lot of last Autumn exploring body balancing and micro movements to try to re-balance my body due to an imbalance caused by pain from chronic quad tendonitis in my right knee, just above the patella.

I’d had this and other pains for going on for a year I guess and had come to the sad conclusion that these pains were just going to be part of my life that I’d have to get used to.

I seemed to have reached the age were by, I would notice more if things stopped hurting, rather  than when they started!

I have to admit that I’ve always been a bit of a no pain no gain sort of activist, so in a weird way, simply saw these new pains as a kind of challenge to overcome.

Inspired I started going to the Yoga classes twice a week and incorporated the poses into my morning stretching session.

I started to focus on the poses and stretches that I found the hardest and started to feel gains in fluidity and strength that I’d pushed into the past.

My shoulders and elbows, sore from years of climbing, stopped hurting, my arms felt stronger, my back more flexible and supple…

and then one day in the middle of the winter whilst Snowboarding here in Chamonix, I suddenly realized that my knee pain had gone!

I made all sorts of harsh movements and dynamic aggressive turns to try to get it to come back, fearing in a strange way that something was wrong in that it didn’t hurt…I could feel the dull ache of were the pain was centred, but there was no denying it…the knee pain was on its way out…

I started working on a couple of yoga poses that seemed to be helping and day by day the knee pain receded more and more…

My daily morning routine now involves a 40 minute Yoga session designed to explore my weakness’s and undo the tension in my body…

As I get better, I also feel that I get worse…I start to see that my success’s are due to me not being strict enough with filling out the poses and keeping good alignment.

The more I do, the better but harder it gets, as now I feel that I’m starting to understand a little about what I should be able to do with my body…

There’s allot of talk about Yoga and spiritual enlightenment…hippy chat that’s kind of always put me off a little, but the more I get into it, the freer, calmer and more organized I feel inside…food for thought?

There’s no denying it…Yoga has turned the tables on my aching limbs and improved my athletic performance to the point were I actually feel that at 45 going on 46, I’m really progressing again and actually feel quite good!

Last season, I did some of the best riding that I’ve ever done and felt that I performed at the highest level I’ve ever ridden and, even better, I enjoyed snowboarding more than ever before…

I’m not saying that Yoga has been the sole answer of all of my calls and to be sure, I really am no expert at it by any means, but I would say that for the ‘middle aged athlete’, if you’ve not already joined the club, Yoga is worth a look…especially if like me you’ve been carrying aches and pains or feeling tightness around your shoulders, back or hips…

Wellness is a major topic right now, its the modern epidemic…but Yoga and eating well have been around for years…maybe we’ve just got a little bit lazy, looked else where or fallen into a life of bodily neglect?

Maybe, just maybe Yoga is the answer for the longevity of the new ‘middle age athlete’…

I’m giving it a go…

I am work in progress!

sunset-couliour

A new dawn full of possibilities…