Improving and feeling strong

My ankle continues to improve. Last week I managed another run walk session and then, I admit, I cheated on my plan and just ran on it the next day. I went out from work with a newish runner who was just looking for some company and we ran at talking pace for about 35 mins or 3 miles.

I used it as an exercise in midfoot running and managed to keep my new technique all the way round. My calves were a bit stiff in the evening, but not unpleasantly so.

Runner wearing Newcastle United shirt
Jeff at 2k into his 100th Newcastle parkrun

I did my first boxercise session in a few weeks on Wednesday evening and got a great work out, though I was nervous of some of the jumping exercises.

And then on Thursday morning I was back down the beach first thing for a tough PT session. We started with running drills, then worked our way up to a couple of exercises with 2 x12k kettlebells, using them as static weights and concentrating on my legs. I still wobbled a bit on some of the 1 legged exercises, so I still need to build up my balance and confidence in my left leg. But it was good to take things up a notch and challenge myself.

By Friday, my ankle was a little stiff and achey, so I treated myself to a swim after work. I have been working on pull buoy drills and really feel they are making a difference, particularly in getting my elbows high and my hand into the water sooner. But for this session I just got in and swam, enjoying the feel of the water and it did the trick of easing the range of movement again.

Saturday I layered up for a morning on the Town Moor, volunteering at Newcastle parkrun. I was dispatched to Gate 2, just after the 2k marker, so got a good walk there and back and a chance to see just how muddy and plodgy the paths are now. I managed to snap some pictures as well as directing runners through the gap. It was great to see Lesley Anne back running and smiling as she bounded along the tree lined road and to cheer Jeff on for his 100th Newcastle parkrun.

Halloween lanterns
Halloween lanterns – picture courtesy of Katherine Wildman

Then it was a quick turn around to get home and out again for G and S Organics Bonfire night on the farm. We arrived early to lend a hand chopping and peeling vegetables for the soup, fetching and carrying things over to the outdoor events area and stringing up fairy lights.

There was a great display of carved pumpkins, turnips and little squashes and by the time the other guests arrived it was growing nicely dark, so we were glad of the heat of the bonfire and a few sparklers. No fireworks because of the animals, but that suits me just fine.

The food was, as always, delicious. Soup and burgers when everyone arrived, then after a bit of bonfire chat, a plate full of pheasant au vin and leeky mash with three different types of cake for pudding.

As the evening drew on we looked up at the clear skies to see millions of stars. No sign of the Northern lights, but you could see the Milky Way. Steeped in woodsmoke, we drank cocoa as we cleared up and made our way home. It was a splendid way to spend the day.

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Dreaming in the firelight

We get most of our food, meat and vegetables from a small organic farm in Northumberland. Every week, we get a box of goodies delivered to our door in the early hours of the morning. We’ve been doing it for a few years now and it’s completely changed the way we eat. No more processed, packaged ready meals, lots more vegetables and some non-meat meals and learning to love the cheap cuts and leftovers.

This weekend, there was a working party on the farm. A chance for box-scheme customers and friends to come and visit, see what it’s all about, help plant some trees and fix some fencing, with the promise of a tasty meal at the end.

I’d originally planned to do an aquathlon on Sunday. But I wasn’t sure how well my bite wound would heal and whether swimming would be wise. And having taken some time off training anyway, I decided to ditch it and just enjoy my day on the farm instead.

And it was a wonderful day. We got up there early to help clear up and set things up for the visitors, sweeping out the packing shed and setting up trestle tables and hay bales for seats. When the helpers arrived, I joined a crew planting trees, dog rose and blackthorn which will act as a windbreak for the vegetable garden.

Sunset over the fields
Sunset on Bonfire night

The weather was kind. Bright, clear and surprisingly mild, but with just enough coolness to make you glad you were keeping active. We dug, and planted, ferried muck from the heap and settled the trees in. As the afternoon wore on, we began to tire. But tempers never frayed. A bite of an apple and a swig of water and on we worked with the dogs, ducks, geese and chickens inspecting our progress.

As the light began to fade, we stepped back to see the fencing done and over 300 trees in place. A good day’s work.

A quick splash under the standpipe and into the shed for pumpkin soup, topped with stir fried sprouts, chickpea fritters and plenty of proper bread. There were many second helpings. And still room for almond and rhubarb tart for afters.

Stepping out into the pitch dark, looking up at the Big Dipper shining out in the stars; we gathered around the bonfire, watching the flames flicker orange, blue, yellow, purple and green.

My decision to do a little bit less meant I enjoyed what I did do a lot more. Rather than worrying about how I would perform the next day, I was able to enjoy the present. Just relaxing and enjoying being active and outdoors, feeling like I accomplished something. It’s a quieter feeling of satisfaction than a good run, but the wholesome ache of muscles and a hot shower and bed were just as welcome.