A bit of a rethink needed this morning. I have been in the habit of alternating time on the bike with a bit of a run – most days. The bike activity varies between the resistance trainer, on the quieter bitumen, dirt tracks or in the bush every now and then. It is something I intend to keep up as is (despite the magpie season). However, the running has presented some serious problems.
The first running problem appeared to be a product of distance and age. As I regularly got further past the 6km mark, my intermittent left hip malalignment became increasingly troublesome. I started having to stop to line up the ball and socket more often. Also, the hip was becoming sore between times, which was new. Hmmm. It was looking like time to reconsider my approach.
Then there was the dog. Running along Spring Crrek Rd one day, there was suddenly a rush of snapping teeth and aggressive growling and barking behind me. A charging border collie had come out of nowhere. I must have passed it in the scrub.
He got under my legs and knocked me to the ground. I landed hard on the bitumen, scoring myself some scrapes and nasty bruises. Luckily he hadn’t got a grip at this stage, but he was coming at me while I was on the ground. Fortunately, he chose to come at my legs again. I was able to kick him in the neck. It must have hurt because he backed off, snarling with his hackles way up.
I was seriously frightened and badly shaken. I had landed square on my hip and wondered if it was broken. Lying there without any mechanical form of defence I was sure those teeth were going to find a mark.
I tentaively stood up to test my weight bearing. It was OK, so I steadily backed away. After a couple of lunges and as I got further down the road the dog started to stand back, more ready to let me go. At this point, I decided this sort of running wasn’t for me.
However, confining yourself exclusively to one form of exercise gets to be a demotivating drag. I will be forever grateful to swimming, which restored me from the severe back injury scrap heap many years ago, when I suffered extruded discs at work. In health, I would choose swimming if I didn’t find it so boring. So, what to do? I tried quigong, but it was to slow for me. Yoga never felt right either.
Then, in the context of all the new research demonstrating the benefits of short bursts of high intensity exercise, I thought running a couple of km along the creek might be good. It was. Beautiful, doable, no hip soreness. But yesteday ….
As has happened several times before, Mary and I were walking along, aware to watch for snakes. As usual, we let our minds and eyes wander upward toward koala and bird spotting. Once again we only became alert to a snake when it was underfoot. Here it is, a medium sized copperhead. Easily mistaken for a red bellied black or a dark coloured brown, you can tell it is a copperhead by the pale triangular scales along the lips.
So, for the warmer months at least, I think a change of plan is necessary. I see enough snakes to realise that I am genuinely running the risk of a snake strike along the creek. That won’t stop me walking there, but I think running heightens the risk.
Instead, today I ran through town, down to the derelict Armstong St Bridge (see photo in previous post) and back. Even surfaces, a modest rise, a gravel footpath through town, a low traffic dead end blacktop, scenic rolling hills with the pretty golf course on one side and the solitary water tower on the other, a gorgeous riparian bush zone to look over at the terminus. Not a bad change of plan.