March 19: A new running path and distance

Wow, my calf muscles were sore this morning! I could hardly walk when I got out of bed! Yesterday’s Badass Yoga, with lots of downward dog stretches, really got my legs working. So I thought I’d put them to the test again with a … wait for it … drumroll … 5km run.

To date, I’d only ever jogged the same 4km path through the forest (a grand total of four times this year! Woo hoo!). This time I wanted to try 5km, so shuffled along my normal walking path towards Möriswil, then instead of going through the village on the bitumen road (which I like to do when walking so I can visit the miniature horses), I took an earlier forest road and didn’t see a soul the entire time. I used to listen to music when jogging, but lately, I’ve really enjoyed just listening to the peace and quiet, and all the birds, too.

The idea of running 5km today came from my friend Bec, who lives just outside Melbourne in Australia. She commented on a previous post, mentioning her fitness goals for 2015, then asked what mine were. I’d never actually written them down before, or thought about them much, other than wanting to feel fitfor15in15. So for the first time, I now have a proper list of fitness goals for 2015. I want to be able to:

  1. Do 2 minutes of plank
  2. Leave my elbows on the floor while lying on my legs or stretching out between my legs
  3. Do the splits comfortably again
  4. Fit into the strapless dress I bought after the Camino
  5. Have toned/slimmer arms
  6. Jog 8km (I’m not a runner though, so that could be unrealistic!)
  7. Improve my balance, especially on one leg doing yoga moves

I might add a few more down the track, but for now, that’s pretty good.

And my time running today was pretty good too, I think, finishing the 5km in 32 minutes 46 seconds. I walked for the first two minutes as a warm up, then had a mix of reasonably steady up and down gradients which saw me faster in the third kilometre (I’d like to think I was in the zone, but really, there was more downward gradient running than in the other sections). Now that I know this path is exactly 5km from door to door, I may have run my last 4km on the old track. There are no photos from the new path because I didn’t want to take any pauses, but I can tell you my head was as red as a tomato when I got home.

Thank you Bec, for encouraging me to write down my goals. Written goals are achieved more than those that aren’t, so it was about time I put them on paper. If I want to run 8km by the end of the year, it was time to up the ante, and seeing that inspired me to attempt my first 5km run in many, many years.

On a nervous note, right now, as I’m typing, a group of people who are interested in buying Liliane and Rene’s property – the big farm house, our Stoekli and the land – are wandering around the place. It’s incredibly sad thinking we may not be living here for much longer. The property has been on the market for two years (things don’t move fast here in Switzerland!) and this group have been here a few times before, so I think they’re getting serious. Rene and Liliane have had enough of the responsibility of maintaining everything and would like something smaller that they can lock up and leave easily for when Liliane retires.

Leo and I have often talked about what we’d do if we had the money to buy here. We’d turn some of the apartments into holiday rentals and set up a country B&B. It would be perfect, with all the grass and pool, for families and people who want to get away from it all. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re the ones who will eventually be getting away from it all – by moving! But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we’ll just keep enjoying what we have, which is pretty darn special.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 20: A 4km run through the forest

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Sandra ready for her run. Alas we weren’t running together, only in spirit!

After seeing this photo my friend Sandra sent me this morning, I was inspired to go for a run/jog/shuffle too. The weather is amazing – all the windows are open in the house to let the fresh air in, and our jackets are hanging on the clothesline getting an airing. Sandra stepped it up a notch and ran 8km, whereas I settled on my usual 4km track. Maybe when I’m fitter, we’ll go running together?

Seems like quite a few people had the same idea to enjoy the outdoors; I came across three couples and one man out for a stroll. So sweet, seeing the oldies holding hands as they walk in the sunshine. If they’d been eating ice creams on a bench together, I probably would have burst into tears (not sure why, but that gets me every time).

Unfortunately, the icy sections in the forest still haven’t melted. I felt a bit foolish tiptoeing through the dangerous parts (it must look hilarious from a distance) so ended up walking quite a lot, for fear of doing another learner-on-roller-skates impression. Pushing off with the back foot was always the slipperiest part.

And, of course, taking photos slowed me down! I found it hard to get into any kind of rhythm but still managed the 4km in 29 minutes 32 seconds. That’ll do me I say! My third fitfor15in15 run of the year. One bad thing though – as I set off, I realised not one drop of water had passed my lips this morning. I’m making up for it now, guzzling a few litres … in a ladylike manner.

Listening to all the birds and the snow melting has filled me with the joys of spring. It’s supposed to snow again tomorrow and early next week, but today, you wouldn’t believe those weather predictions could come true. Are the seasons changing where you are? I’m feeling for all my Australian friends on the north and east coasts at the moment, suffering in the cyclones. Hope the damages aren’t too bad.

And for something totally different, the sleepy capital city of Switzerland, Bern, came alive yesterday afternoon, thanks to the visiting fans from the Everton Football Club. Their team played Young Boys last night (yes, the football team from Bern is called Young Boys; so odd) in the Europa League and in order to prepare themselves for the match, thousands of fans took over the city. Drinking beer.

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Not sure how they got up there to hang those banners, as I think it’s an office! But they did!

I was meeting my friend Pastora in our favourite bar and we ended up having a hilarious afternoon talking to some of the more refined fans from England’s north – all totally out of the ordinary and very good for the soul. (It was a sad result for Bern and a good one for Everton: 1-4.)

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Pastora with the afternoon’s entertainment – the Everton lads!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 13: Plenty of luck on a 4km run in the forest

I’m not overly superstitious, but occasionally I touch wood and avoid walking under ladders and so on. This morning, I joked with Leo that I wouldn’t leave the house for fear of something going wrong. Strange things can happen on Friday the 13th, or on any other day to be honest …

Throwing caution to the wind, I DID leave the house – to christen my new jogging/shuffling sneakers. A big risk, considering I took a tumble on my last run, and still have the scars to prove it!

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Out with the old …

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… and in with the new!

The white ones had served me well for the past six years, not that they were flogged to death or anything, but running – sorry, shuffling – in the forest over the past few years had taken its toll.

So when I saw these new ones also 50% cheaper (in a continuation of the sale where I bought my indoor sneakers), I couldn’t resist. It was time for replacements and at half price, resistance was useless.

The track through the forest was still very icy and covered in snow, despite so much of it melting in all the glorious sunshine over the past few days. Dripping water was such a comforting sound today – it means spring is coming! Normally dripping water makes me want to race to the toilet and if it’s a dripping tap, well that’s another story completely – that noise drives me mental! Ahh, misophonia … the gift that keeps on giving.

At first, I was unsure if these new shoes would provide enough support for that problem with my left foot, which has been diagnosed by a podiatrist as Metatarsalgia. New orthotic inserts/innersoles have helped a lot. The pain was crazy there for a while, and that’s another reason why I haven’t been jogging since January 10.

After testing them out on my usual 4km lollipop loop, which involved some springing from non-muddy patch to non-muddy patch, there was no pain. Happy camper. I didn’t struggle with the slow incline as much as I have in the past, and may have stretched my legs a little longer and held my head a little higher as I ran past the loggers cutting down some trees on the homeward stretch. Such an idiot! All up, the run took me 26 minutes, which included walking as a warm-up for two minutes. I’m getting fitter!

Buying the two new pairs of shoes goes against my minimalistic grain, but the foot problem made it a no-brainer. I know you’re supposed to replace sneakers quite regularly too, so six years was a good stint. And it was so nice to see that flash of colour, especially running through the snow!

Fancy going for a shuffle/jog/run? Even round the block is better than nothing. Start on a flat path and then maybe build up to an incline or two when you feel ready for another challenge. I’m not quite ready to run any further just yet (this being only my second jog – sorry, shuffle – of the year), but with these new shoes I’m looking forward to doing more.

Wishing you a great day.

P.S I cleaned my desk today too.

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Space, at last!

There’s no before photo – WAAAAY too embarrassing. It was littered with German books and German magazines and pieces of paper and dust and notebooks and, let’s face it, too much crap to go on like that. Now along with all things computer, I just have a candle and lighter (for my morning routine, done on the floor), the lamp, a little bottle of nice smellies topped with the tiny knitted hat I love, a print of an artwork by Hans Schärer called Madonna 2 (my highlight from an exhibition in Bern in 2012) and a box of tissues.

Surely, with all this space, prize-winning writing will ensue?!

Do you love your creative space? Does it inspire you?

January 10: Jogging in the forest can be dangerous

Not bad weather here today, so finally had the chance to go jogging (or shuffling as I like to call it) in the forest near our house – my first shuffle of the year.

The view to my right when I run up the lollypop stick, heading into the forest

The view to my right when I run up the lollypop stick, heading into the forest

This 4km path is like a lollypop – I run up the very long stick, around the left perimeter in a sweet little loop, and then back down the stick again to home. It’s a pleasant mix of wide road and trail running, surrounded by farming fields, and it’s also reasonably flat.

It looks dark in there! Will I be in for a surprise?

It looks dark in there! Will there be a surprise?

I like running on the dirt path more than the beginning of the ‘stick’, which is a mix of gravel and bitumen sections. The bitumen part goes past one of my favourite working farms, which usually has cows you can pat. Sorry, I was so into the run, I forgot to take a photo of the calves. Next time.

On the left turn, once in the forest proper, the mood was lovely. Didn’t have any music today but that was no great loss. (I use the MapMyRun App on my phone to track the distance and split times and normally run with tunes, but today it wouldn’t play anything). It was peaceful.

A wonderful place to run. Got to keep on eye out for all the tree roots though

A wonderful place to run. Got to keep on eye out for all the tree roots on the path though

The second kilometre was flat and a bit muddy, but very doable and pretty.

There's a few of these bird houses scattered through this forest

There’s a few of these bird houses scattered through this forest

After 2.7km, I picked my way carefully through more mud and I could smell the finish line. I had this lollypop loop licked … but the trail had the last laugh. Timber!! I was really starting to shuffle along at this stage, clipped a rock in the path, and went down knees and hands first. After walking for a while to catch my breath and stop laughing, I arrived home after 31 minutes. Maybe without the walking (and falling), I would have finished in about 28 minutes. So that’s something to aim for next time. And lifting of the feet, oh yes, that’s something to aim for too.

Over she goes! Lucky I was wearing long pants, so no grot in there luckily

Over she goes! Lucky I was wearing long pants – no forest dirt in there