My new year epiphany is being put into practice very well now, I’m pleased to announce. On Saturday I holed up in the library after dropping Gordon off at work and spent the whole day working on my next assignment (with the exception of a couple of half hours on the computers digging up my family tree). It works really well and I’m so pleased I’m managing to stick to it when I can.
Last weekend was the same, I spent Saturday in the library across the road from where Gordon works and due to opening times I spent the Sunday in the City Library. I manage to get far more done in the libraries than I would do at home and you’ve no idea how relieved I am to have found a productive method of working. Whether it pays off in my grades is something yet to be seen but nevertheless I’m glad I’m actually paying more attention to my studies.
With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight I realise exactly what went wrong. I hadn’t had anything for tea the night before since we’d gone to the chippy for lunch the day before, and for breakfast I had a bowl of porridge with dried apricots and honey and thought that would be a good breakfast to sustain me. The route we planned was a there-and-back to a brilliant cafe on the Coast to Coast (C2C) route at about 36 miles in total. I got to 12 miles and the tank ran dry. Literally. I wasn’t out of breath, I wasn’t really aching much, but my legs just wouldn’t do anything.
My mother always used to say I had hollow legs (she was referring to the amount of food I could eat in one sitting, not something to be proud of mind you) and that’s just how they felt – empty and hollow like they didn’t even contain muscles. It was torturous and combined with a headwind I was managing about 30 seconds of pedalling before I had to stop so it took over three hours to do the 18 mile outward journey.
I got to the cafe, slumped in the chair and when a bowl of broth and a cheese & onion toastie arrived I wolfed them down like there was no tomorrow. I sat in the cafe for ages trying to recover and I must’ve looked pretty iffy because the owner came over and jokingly asked if I wanted her to phone me an ambulance. However, a refuelling combined with a 1:66 decline on the way back meant that I breezed the 18 mile return leg (freewheeling is fun!) and I got back to the car with a big beaming smile.
'It’s vital to have something outside of study. A lot of my efforts lately have been on study and it’s been to the detriment of other aspects of my life'
I got home realising two things: first is that even when you think you’ve given your absolute everything and couldn’t possibly have pushed any further you’re nearly always wrong. Physically you’ve nearly always got a bit in reserve that you don’t realise is there and mentally it’s just a case of bashing through that barrier or concentrating on good things to get you through (I forced Gordon to ride along side me and have a lengthy discussion about my recent efforts at making soap to take my mind off my empty legs).
Second is that it’s vital to have something outside of study. A lot of my efforts lately have been on study and it’s been to the detriment of other aspects of my life. Painful as it was and infuriating as it was to realise how unfit I have become I had forgotten how much I enjoy riding my bike and how much I love that feeling of stomping out of the saddle to get up a hill and have your legs and lungs burn by the time you get to the top (but you have that feeling of utter satisfaction knowing you didn’t have to get off). I really enjoy my studies and they’re a big part of my life, but I can’t let them overtake it entirely. It’s so important to have something else going on, something which helps you ‘switch off’ even if it’s just for a short while and for me that’s biking.
In three weeks' time the lectures for my MA are finished until October (I know, good deal right?!) so I’ll be concentrating more time on OU studies again as I have two modules which start up in May when this science short course ends. However, these are level 1 and 2 so I should still have enough time to indulge in my OTHER hobby a bit more. I need to spend more time out in the fresh air to be honest, for my sanity as much as my waistline.