Old and slow wins the race.
So, imagine the scene. The sun is out on full blast as this central African-inspired heatwave continues to ravish the heart of London. There’s an astroturf cage at the edge of a primary school, with 150 kids screaming for you to either win or lose (not including the and parents and carers watching in sweaty anticipation). It’s the teacher’s race and I, a recently-qualified teacher, have been asked (told) to participate. I don’t complain. Naturally, I want my team to come first.
The whistle blows, and I’m running alongside my colleagues in a bid to win. I manoeuvre around the cones with ease, and I’m able to balance the beanbag on my head for 3 metres before dropping it into the hoop. It’s a hop around the final post before the home stretch- a sprint back to the beanbag that I must pick up and pass to my team teacher (in place of the usual baton).
Something is wrong. I have placed my foot down wrong, I can feel my entire body listing to the right. My ankle rolls and my knee gives way. I’ve hit the ground. In an attempt to continue the race, I lunge forward to grab the beanbag and hurl it towards my team mate. She catches it and starts her run as I limp back to base, pride dented, ankle twisted but wearing a brave smile for the kids and parents of my class.
This is not the only public fall I’ve suffered, but it’s one of the more recent ones that has reminded me of one nagging truth. I’m getting old.
Before I continue, I feel it is necessary to tell you all that I have no qualms about getting old. I’m embracing the grey hairs and the need for a more regular intake of water and green veg. However, recently it’s been hard to get used to the fact that I can’t just randomly start running and think I’ll get to my destination without repercussions.
I’ve always been relatively active. As a child, I participated in gymnastics and won some awards. As an adult, I’ve taken part in various circus activities such as acrobatics and street dance whilst working for a London-based circus company. I even gave Free-running a try. I occasionally, regularly, sometimes attend the gym, and love a bit of yoga at home. But I’ve realised more recently that my body cannot just adapt to new, spontaneous physical activities. I’m in my early/mid 30s now. Whilst some people have maintained a very active lifestyle, mine has been inconsistent at best. My body does not work the way it used to.
I’ve realised that taking care of my body means NOT just giving things a go. For me, it now means looking at what is physically needed for an activity and introducing myself to it slowly. It means warming up (one of my most hated parts of any physical activity). It means cooling down.
It means making sure I’m actually ready to take part in sports day next year. Perhaps I’ll lead my team to victory. At the very least, I hope to not bend my knee the wrong way.
Marsha Phipps-Community Blogger