Saturday 29 July 2017

From Beach to Gym

What little birding I've done since the last post has been a bit lacklustre. Still no Yellow-legged Gulls or Balearic Shearwaters yet. This afternoon's rain inspired a beach walk from Burton Bradstock to the far end of my Cogden patch, and total direness was averted by my first two 'autumn' Wheatears on the shingle and a nice fresh Willow Warbler in the reeds.

However, I wasn't really feeling it today...

Heading back to Burton Bradstock after a long, wet slog...

Still, August is just around the corner, and soon the coast will be jumping with migs again. Which ought to fan the flames of ardour somewhat. I hope so.

Anyway, a couple of posts back I casually mentioned joining a gym. Previously I would not even have needed all the fingers of one hand to enumerate my visits to such an establishment, so what's going on? Well, it's like this...

I was a reasonably sporty kid and, up to leaving school, exercise was a regular part of life. In my late teens though, it all stopped. It wasn't deliberate, just a consequence of circumstances. One day in my early twenties I remember going to buy some new jeans and being shocked that my usual size was suddenly too small. Also I had just discovered squash, and found that a decent player could easily turn me into a gasping wreck. Yes, I was very unfit, and getting a bit porky. Something had to be done. It was now the early '80s and the running boom was in full swing, so...

One morning I set out from home in my shiny new trainers and steamed up the road. Within a few short minutes my lungs were on fire. Aaagh! I ducked down a quiet footpath and doubled over, trying not to throw up. A most undignified start. In the end it was joining a running club that did the trick. I learned how to train properly and by about 1985 was running half-marathons. There followed several years of fairly consistent fitness, culminating in my one and only full marathon in 1992. Whereupon I injured a knee, quit running and became a low-key cyclist.

At this point I'm in my early 30s. Middle age is still a long way off. So, fast-forward nearly 20 years...

...and once again I am unfit and lardy. I could say the same for Mrs NQS but of course would never do that because I want to keep living. Proper middle age is very different to 30-something. It's the age when years of casual indifference to/avoidance of exercise - especially when combined with questionable diet - can take a serious toll. All kinds of highly undesirable health issues will happily rear their ugly incipient heads at around this point in life. Which is one of the main reasons I started cycling again.

So that's me sorted then.

However, in all our 37 years of marriage I have hardly ever managed to coax Mrs NQS to do anything vaguely sporty. Badminton once or twice. Rounders with friends occasionally. Astonishingly, in the late '80s a brief flirtation with running, and even though I saw it with my own eyes and therefore know it actually happened, I still find it hard to believe. And that's about it. Until recently...

With her 60th birthday looming, my dear wife has suddenly expressed an interest in exercise that involves more than just a sofa, a good book and a nice glass of wine. With a few like-minded pals she tried some regular 'brisk' walking, but unfortunately it fizzled out. And then a couple of friends much younger than us enthused about the benefits of joining a gym. Hmm, I thought, nothing to lose, and so mentioned it. "Okay," she said, "I'll try it."

Which is why I am now a member of a gym. With Mrs NQS gamely stepping so far out of her comfort zone, a bit of moral support was the least I could offer. And, unexpectedly, I am enjoying it. I've started running again for the first time in 25 years, albeit on a treadmill. My biceps are once again detectable, and I am earning Brownie points. Brilliant!

I hope that explanation alleviates any recent concerns about my sanity...


  1. Any pics of you & Mrs NQS on the treadmill? For proof you understand, not ridicule!

  2. Believe me Derek, you don't want that. NOBODY wants that!! 😊

    1. Of course Gav, those Oxygen masks are so unflattering

  3. Well done Gavin, it's a hard thing having to take up and maintain a gym regime, hope it all succeeds.

  4. Wow. I will mention this to Mrs L, who is quick to point out my podge but does nothing herself. incidentally I am currently on my way to a health screening to find out about all the ugly incipient things I've got.

    1. Now that's a thought, I haven't been for a health check in years. All the best with yours...