Problems are not excuses

Wondering whether I’m fit enough has been pretty much my overriding thought in the last few weeks, as the countdown is on until I cycle the C2C next weekend. First I should reassure the lovely people at Saddle Skedaddle, who read my last blog post where I worried about various aspects of the trip, and rang me up to check I was OK. Those who know me well know that I worry about things long before they happen, and I worry about pretty much anything new that I do, including normal things like going to parties or visiting a new place. The good thing is that once I’ve worked through in my head all the possible things that could go wrong, and figured out what I’d do in all those situations, I tend to stop worrying. I also worry about the most ridiculous things but it’s just my way – any new situation worries me, but only until I’ve figured out how to deal with it. Apart from some things that totally freak me out, like having to wear fancy dress, but I now know how to deal with that fear (I either don’t even attempt it, I don’t go to the party, or I wear something that’s actually normal clothes but can be categorised as fancy dress). But as usual, I digress….my point was just that if the lovely Saddle Skedaddle people are reading this, don’t be alarmed, I’m just working through my fears out loud.

Having two frozen shoulders and being in constant pain, combined with the consequence of not getting much sleep as a result, not being able to do any sport, and generally leading a busy life with a lot of travel, has meant that it’s been quite hard to focus on fitness over the last year. Walking and cycling are about the only things I can do, and even they cause shoulder pain, and sometimes difficulty breathing as a result of such tight shoulder muscles, plus increased pain and stiffness for the next few days if I do too much. So it’s been a bit of a fine balance. But since I can’t do much else in the gym, and since I need to break up my working day into chunks so I’m not sitting at a computer for hours on end, I’ve been doing spin classes 4-5 times a week, sometimes more. I don’t feel any fitter, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. I’ve been pushing myself to the limits (did I mention that the pain also makes me feel sick sometimes?) so I suppose I must be getting fitter. I’ve even managed to get out on my bike a few times in the real world and practise some hills, though I’ve wimped out of any super scary ones. I’m going for the philosophy that you don’t practise the pain of torture or childbirth just to get used to it in case it ever happens to you, so why would I practise killing myself on the super scary hills? OK, I know that’s a rubbish excuse, but I still have a week to get beyond that. I also have no idea if any of the hills I’ve done on other trips resemble the worst of the ones I’ll face next weekend. I’m consoling myself with the fact that I’m definitely fitter than I have been on any of my previous cycling holidays, so I’ll probably be all right. And if not, I’ll just have to walk up the worst hill and berate myself for not having put more effort into practice first. I suspect I’ll be the only person mad enough to attempt this trip while waiting for double shoulder surgery, not to mention all the other bits of my body that don’t work.

And now for a final word. As usual, I write these posts for a number of reasons. Partly because writing down my thoughts and fears helps, especially when I can make jokes of them. But mainly because I want other people to realise that nothing has to stop you doing what you want. Disability, pain, illness, and all the other things we may go through are nothing compared to some of the incredible people out there who face far worse challenges in life and who do truly amazing things. A totally blind friend has just done the Coast to Coast on a tandem, having never really cycled before and having no idea what she was up against. She told me that hills are easier when you can’t see them, but how does she know? She’s never seen a hill and cycled up it. Another friend has just cycled Lands End to John O’Groats in the most appalling weather. People with no legs cycle up far bigger hills than me in far worse conditions. And people with terminal illnesses and all kinds of things wrong with them run multiple marathons. The point is that we may feel like giving up or sacking off a training session, we might think we can’t do what others can because we have problems that get in our way. It might be harder for us to do it than for other people. But there are always people who’ll find it even harder than you do, no matter what your limitations or restrictions. No excuses for not getting out there, however you can, and doing stuff.

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