Under fit, over fifty and fighting. . .
I had to use alliteration for effect, but the truth is, the title SHOULD read ‘Under strong, over sixty and struggling. . .‘ but let’s let this one stay there. It makes me feel better. Yeah, my muscles and I have never been close. My imagination and creative energy are best mates. When it came to choices for electives at school I always chose Art over Sport. When it is a matter of what to watch on the tv, I always choose period dramas over any national game of team sport whatsoever. I’m sure many of you regard this as a tragedy. Those of a sportive tendency will be shaking their heads. Those, like me, who love anything art/creative/imaginative/fictional will totally get it. Not that these qualities are exclusive, mind.
And that’s where I’m going with this blog post.
I’m endeavouring to bring some balance back into my life, because as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed a decided preponderance to prefer my armchair to exercise of any sort. And it shows. It has never been an easy choice for me, to get fit, but for a few decades I got away with it. My adventures required a certain amount of energy, and it is THAT which is the key for me. Not the exercise in itself, but the requirement to expend energy to achieve a satisfying creative or imaginative goal. This was me in my late 20s, enjoying an ‘adventure’.
See all the outdoors! The camping, the fishing, the swimming in streams? Great fun, and easy when your body is carrying the right amount of weight too. I would never have termed myself particularly fit, or exercise obsessed. When I reached my mid-30s, a friend asked me to join a group going to climb up into alpine regions on a newish track that takes four days to walk, called the Kepler Trail. I was so interested in being part of this group, that I said yes! I then plodded around the block for a few weeks preceding the adventure, thinking I was getting fit. Ha!
Actually, the guy who asked me did me a great favour. Had I known how hard it would be, I would have said a resounding NO. But I packed my bag and headed to the South Island and we started on the uphill grind to the snow line. I needed regular stops, and often, and more and more was taken from my pack, but finally we got up there, and the huge swell of achievement was amazing!
After that it was a relatively easy walk through the snow capped mountain tops, and down through Beech forest, and the final night soaking in a hot pool was delicious. I am embarrassed to say that I have referred back to that ‘tramp’ more often than I should have, as the biggest exercising experience I have enjoyed. For a few years after the Kepler Track, I did some tramps/hikes with friends, but never sustained enough interest in exercise per se, to keep it up. By my 40’s I was traveling and working overseas, and away from the glorious outdoors of New Zealand, with its easy trails (and lack of dangerous animals.)
Now in my early 60s, I find it hard to believe that half a lifetime ago I carried a pack on my back with such ease. But still, the lure of the adventure still calls to me – and my determination to ensure my body can keep up with that pace drives me to adapt more and more of my day to that endeavour. I clearly remember an older couple – in their 70s – walking past us on the Kepler, and me thinking that was amazing for such elderly folk. Ah, the shortsightedness of the young!
Today, I walked 10.5 kms around the peninsula in which I live, and felt the happy thrill at the end of it, knowing I could still do it. It may not seem like much, but for me, it’s a start and gives me a baseline to work from. I can’t see myself caving again, (photo below) ugh!! Or even scaling up beyond the snowline – as depicted in the other photo below. The mountains in the South Island are incredibly beautiful and the views I saw up there have stayed with me all this time.
I hope there’s still plenty of time for adventures – of a milder variety perhaps – but ones that stretch not only my mind and imagination, but my body as well.