Opinionated World


Increasing Fitness Levels

I ache.

I feel like a 70 year old man with a bad back. Well, probably not quite that bad but some of the way there at least. I usually sit at home on my arse all day designing websites while I delude myself that my fitness is absolutely fine. In reality, sitting around a lot means your overall health takes a battering.

I’ve never been an unfit person, always very active, whether cycling or running and monkeying around, so my idea of being unfit is very different to that of someone who is unable to run three miles or hop on a bike for a good two hours.

I like to keep fit as much as I can and ideally, I’d do it every day if the weather gave me that chance – and if I had enough time. The latter being such a poor excuse. Over the last two days, I’ve been helping my Dad build a patio for a client. Typically, during a week where I agree to work longer hours and be committed to something, the weather comes good and it’s a breeze free 24 degrees C. Excuse the rhyming, I’ll leave that to Dad.

We’ve unloaded, and moved four tonnes of very rocky hardcore, two tonnes of sand, three tonnes or so of soil, and a selection of slabs which are now tightly wackered (had to be careful to spell that right!) into a soft 8m x 3.5m bed. The run from materials to patio is around 150 metres, up three steps and over a large lawn which gets increasingly more difficult over the course of a nine hour day. To top it off, we needed an additional wheelbarrow which we ended up borrowing.  All very well, but the ‘gardeners barrow’ is square, has a thin plastic wheel and you smash either your knees or shins on it depending on how high you lift it.

Patio laying complete.

Patio laying complete.

Thank goodness for a medium length lunch lunch break to split it up.  Six highly filled sanga’s, pasta pot, a few Jaffa cakes and a pint of orange juice gave me enough energy for at least 15 minutes after we returned to work. Dad uses the slow, methodical but ultimately better approach, whereas I use the brute force, load everything as high as possible and expend as much energy in as short a time as possible, approach.

I shouldn’t complain, it’s what I asked for. Hard, manual labour with the “heavy stuff”. I’m virtually a demolitions expert with a club hammer, so I relished the opportunity to smash some old slabs to smithereens. Arriving at the job on Monday, I realised the area the patio would be laid was on a patch of overgrown weeds which we ultimately left to a digger driver who scooped the area out in half a day. Still, lumping around six or so tonnes of materials during an unusually hot day was strength sapping enough for day two.

I did find one respite with the hosepipe. Here’s an ultimate tip for you all; Take hose gun, point upwards, pull trigger and stand underneath for a good 10 seconds or so. Ahhh, relief. This idea came about after already having been soaked just an hour or so into the day, when, drinking from my wide mouthed nalgene bottle, Dad accelerated in the van, leaving a large volume of water over my face, neck, fleece, lap and shoes. Thanks to my super quick drying Bear Grylls trousers, I didn’t look like I’d wet myself for too long.

Thankfully, I feel myself getting stronger again. Just as I did with months of hard graft renovating my Uncle’s new house in 2011. The Lake District will sort my fitness out further, if I ever get there. Sodding British weather. Oh and more cycling, lots of cycling.


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