Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Unfit For Purpose

The entire family is on holiday this week.

And when I say "holiday" I of course mean that we are being groovy fashionable young things and having a staycation... basing ourselves at home and having various day trips to places that are neither distant nor expensive. While the rich might be lapping up the ambrosia of St Moritz or Cannes we are slurping away quite happily on the custard of Great Malvern and the Birmingham Sea Life Centre.

The kids are happy. Karen is happy. And the bank account is sighing with relief.

I, however, am gasping with unfitness.

We took the kids up the Malvern Hills yesterday - well, one peak of them at any rate: the British Camp which, if you follow the link, you will see is an Iron Age Hill Fort rather than a shrine to Kenneth Williams.

Karen, Ben and I are expert hillwalkers. Tom, at little over 21 months, is not. So I carried him up in a specially designed kiddy backpack.

I'm sure he felt like Hannibal marshalling a very truculent, wheezy elephant up a moderate foothill.

I cannot believe how unfit I have become.

Now Tom is a solid lad but he's hardly Geoff Capes. Yet I felt like I was about to expire. My shoulder muscles seemed to be tearing apart down the centre of my back. My head felt like it was being pushed off the base of my spine and my forehead felt tighter than Gordon Brown's chocolate starfish.

It was painful. Very painful.

But I persevered. I made the noble sacrifice because Tom was loving every single moment of it. You could hear in his voice the wonder of so this is what you guys can see from up here! The backpack places him at head height you see so he was able to fiddle about with my hair and poke his fingers into my lugholes as I climbed. I suspect he was trying to steer me.

Anyway, once I'd confessed my agony to Karen she made a few adjustments to the backpack and the pain lessened a little. So maybe it was not all down to my lack of fitness but instead my hamfisted usage of what is essentially a very easy to use device? I bloody hope so.

I'd hate to think I was that out of shape.

My assumed immortality has been rather shaken as a consequence. Could it be that I am getting old? Should I be on the search for a nice bit of pasture?

I thought 40 (which I become next month) was supposed to be the new 30?

Not the old 60?



skatey katie said...

i have had two weeks off the gym (cough cough splutter) and finally went back yesterday morning to do a kick boxing class. (it's actually a dancing class but i feel like i'm jackie chan, ok? don't burst my bubble. oh, i already did.) and i was AGHAST at how much my fitness level had dropped.
i wasn't lugging a kid in a backpack either X

Annie G said...

Pushing 40 eh? Oh dear, no more going up hills for you - just downhill from now on. You have nose and ear hair, a pot belly, high cholesterol levels and stiff joints to look forward to now......

Heehee, I'm teasing, it's not all bad. At least you're closer to getting your free bus pass ;)

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Well I imagine a 21 month old is at least equivalent to a big old army backpack filled to the brim, so I think you did extremely well.

Ok so you might not quite be up to passing an army fitness test, but how many of us would?

Glad young Tom enjoyed himself anyway. Mittens might be a good idea to stop him poking holes in you as you walk next time. Even the army probably doesn't make recruits endure that!

Steve said...

Katie: I feel more like Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther than Jackie Chan - worst thing is, Jackie Chan is a helluva lot older than I am and 10 times as fit!

Annie: true and I can also be as curmudgeonly as I like. So no change there at all. ;-)

Laura: you're right. I'd like to see these Green Berets lug an actively ambidextrous tot around with them when they take on those wimpy assualt courses!

Savannah said...

Well since I have...ahem....10 years on you...I am not going to give you any sympathy at all. I doubt if I could manage to carry a handbag up a hill so you're doing better than me. Come to think of it, I'd be surprised if my legs could carry ME up even a slight incline. I think I'll just quit now while I'm ahead....

Enjoy your staycation.

Steve said...

KayDee: having seen what my wife carries in her handbag I don't think I'd be able to carry one up a hill either! ;-)

Owen said...

I could hear the music to Chariots of Fire playing as I read this... When you get out of bed in the morning this coming week at 05h00 start the day by doing 25 pushups, 30 deep knee bends, and 50 jumping jacks, as well as 75 situps for good measure, then pull on the sweats and get out and run 3 miles, come home, hit the shower, and make the missus and kids breakfast... repeat this routine for the next six months or so, and by then you should start feeling pretty kipper... wot ! No pain, no gain ! :-D

Steve said...

Owen: please keep next week free in your diary to read the eulogy at my funeral...


Anonymous said...

Wonderful Steve!

Boy...getting old sucks. I'm 42 and am constantly surprised at how stinking tired I am. The stress of life constantly spoils my fun.

Jackie Chan is an exception...not the rule.

When you're 60 you will say...remember when I was 40 and could carry my kids on my back?...Ah the good old days!


The Sagittarian said...

Oh dear oh dear, who would have thought getting old would be so much fun eh?
I felt a bit out of sorts after going ice-skating with my 14 year old, the cheeky kid said she couldn't understand why I was so tired out as in her view all I had done was sit on my bum on the ice for an hour! and now when I take her to skate I sit carefully in the dafe watching her. Now, where's my knitting and pass the sherry...

Deidre said...

I can only hope when you reached the top you rewarded yourself with some Rocky like fist pumps and jumps?

I once skipped down a lane with 3 month old baby strapped to my chest at high altitude (10,000+ ft)...I am only 23 (was only 22 at the time)...so um, guess that's not really the same thing at all, is it?

Steve said...

Sweet Cheeks: that's a good point. My back may have been bad but at least my legs got me there and down again. Hey - I'm practically a spring chicken (just a 1969 spring).

Amanda: I think you've found the key. Alcohol! I need a hip flask full of whisky. That would have helped. Purely medicinal, of course.

Deirdre: when I reached the top I more resembled Jane Torvill at the end of the Bolero thank Rocky Balboa...! Ah... to have my youth again! When I was 23 I could have carried you and your baby down a mountain... so there! ;-)

Actually, enjoy it while you've got it Deirdre - and nice to see you back. I was only wandering yesterday where you'd gone!

The Joined up Cook said...

As long as I'm fit enough to do what I want to do I don't worry too much about being 'fit'. I don't do a lot either. A walk for me is a five mile ramble; no interest in doing much more.

I've always been like that and found that I felt fitter at 40 than 25. I put this down to a better management of my energy. I wasn't fitter at 40. I just managed my energy expenditure more sensibly.

Now that I'm back at work I find that a nice little work out.

Steve said...

AWB: given that I spend at least 60% of my work life on my feet I'm surprised at my lack of stamina sometimes... but, thinking about it, it's been a tough couple of years and Karen and I are both feeling a general fatigue at the moment. It's probably a good thing I've come to the end of my Uni course - one less demand on me.

Inchy said...

Steve - I've had to put the hours in to raise my own fitness level recently (for a prospective career change which, for legal reasons, I cannot discuss) and it really is addictive. I started at the beginning of the year just doing enough to pass the fitness test, but now I'm doing 10k runs for fun, and by fun, I mean actual fun!
Now I'm less than a year younger than you, although I have a lot more free time, but get the trainers on and give it a go.
You can even get the kids involved!


Steve said...

Inchy: anything that's free sounds good to me. When I was at school I was a pretty good cross-country runner and used to really enjoy it so I can appreciate the fun element. In later years I was a keen cyclist - nothing as extreme as what you get up to - just rides out into the country and back - but I used to find the exercise and the headspace exhilerating. Maybe it's time to dust the cobwebs off the old bike?

Owen said...

Ahh Steve, something like in 4 Weddings & a Funeral ? The Auden piece :

"Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West, ..."


Whatever happened to the Greek model of the scholar - athlete ??? You've got the parchment now, just need to work on the biceps ?!?

Have a super staycation weekend, I like that word, hadn't seen it before... we are staying in France too this summer, but then France is where one finds St Tropez, Cannes, le Baule, Paris.... :-)

Rol said...

God, you really are old.

When's the party.

(Don't worry, I never go to parties.)

Steve said...

Owen: and we here in the Midlands have Dudley and Walsall and Wolverhampton... There's no competition really.

Rol: invite is in the post.

MommyHeadache said...

the only way to keep fit at our age is to do that sanitized fitness via the gym and gentle treadmills - we perish if we'd have to do any real manual labour or walk up a hill

Anonymous said...

Love the Kenneth Williams ref.

Sounds like you are over the hill,
welcome to my world ;)

Steve said...

Emma: I've never been into a gym in my life and I intend to stick to that even if it kills me!

Missbehaving: being over the hill I can cope with, having my knees and back pack up coming down on the other side is what really depresses me!

Selina Kingston said...

No mate, take it from me it's all downhill from here! Though I recently tried climbing uphill to prove I still had it. Mam Tor Ridge I think it is called....it might as well have been Mount Kilamanjaro!!


Steve said...

Selina: suddenly Holland is looking very attractive as a place to retire to...

Valerie said...

Hi I just found your blog. Congratulations on getting your degree. That's real dedication.
Don't worry about the hills, most of them go down.

Steve said...

Valerie: hello there - it's going downhill that worries me! ;-)

Thanks for dropping by - hope I'll "see" you again.

Brother Tobias said...

Are you sure Karen's 'adjustments' didn't consist of letting go of the pack?

Steve said...

Brother T: I've missed you!

French Fancy... said...

Oh bugger, I missed three of your posts in a row. So sorry. I've really got to sort this out a bit better. Advice please. Everyone else seems to make it here in time.

Steve said...

FF: um... not really sure how people do it, to be honest! I know that my blog doesn't appear in Blogger's Follow application because I publish to my own domain name. I often advertise new posts on Twitter and Facebook though if that's any help?