Inspired by the Athletics

Mon 21 – Sun 27 Aug 2023

The big thing for me in the week just gone has been watching the World Athletics Championships from Budapest. Normally every two years but because of the pandemic and the Tokyo Olympics being moved to 2021, so we had the last Athletics Championships only a year ago in Eugene, Oregon. And not forgetting we have the Olympics in Paris next year. I just find the skill and achievement of the athletes so inspiring and I have loved watching it every evening.

It’s so good to have something as motivating as the athletics with the arrival of the August Bank Holiday. I love bank holidays and God knows we need more of them. But this is always the saddest one for two reasons. First, it’s the final one until Christmas / New year which is 4 months away. Second, it spells the end of summer and this year’s British summer has been pretty disappointing with lots more rain than usual June onwards. Indeed, on Saturday we had a patch of torrential rain, thunder, and lightning.

Dozing and subdued bulldog

Health and Efficiency

Achilles flare up

My whole exercise routine has been affected by both my hip and Achilles injuries. The former I won’t know how it is until I try to do some jog running in a few weeks’ time. The Achilles really seemed to be getting better to the point that I wasn’t even thinking about it. Then I woke up on Sunday morning and it was bloody hurting again. No warning and no reason, all I can think is that I twisted or aggravated it whilst I was asleep. 🙁

Dissected achilles

Gym: 3 decent sessions but a talker

Prior to my weekend Achilles problem resurgence, the athletics definitely inspired me to make sure I got in plenty of exercise particularly after the recent physical setbacks – read about it here. And this included my 3 usual gym sessions. All good ones where I felt I was really pushing myself. And got into the zone on each occasion ending up spending around an hour and 30 mins each time working out.

Bit of fun on Friday when I was joined by a newbie. I felt he was making mistakes in some of his exercises. But it’s not my job to tell him how to do things and I’ve realised I have been doing things wrong by watching others. But he also tried to engage me in conversation. TBH, I’m quite anti-social when I exercise; I go to work-out not for a social life. So politely batting off his questions (including ‘Do you come here often? – don’t forget it’s a gay gym) until he took the signal.

89 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £5.50 per session.

Pushing weights

Swim: Only one session but improving my front-crawl

Swimming is the replacement for my beloved jug-runs because of my hip and Achilles setbacks. And when I am swimming then it does not feel that either of these are aggravated. In light of this I had planned two sessions. Did manage to get to the pool on Thursday. Was supposed to go on Sunday morning but then the totally unexplained resurgence of my Achilles problem put that out of play.

I don’t worry about how many lengths I do so long as I can get to 20. Plus also I am getting more confident in front crawl. I feel this stroke is the best overall one to do but I find it hard work and I often get panicked. However, on Thursday I managed to do half of all my lengths with it. And, most importantly, I am doing it slower and not getting panicked so that I go stupidly fast to stop the feeling that I am drowning LOL.

swimming pool lanes

Weight: Another notch down

I really wasn’t sure how my weight would go last week. Perhaps inspired by the athletics, I kept sensible with food. However, I did have a couple of days where I felt I had a bit of a blowout. Result was another modest decrease of a quarter of a pound. Delighted but I mustn’t get complacent.

man weighing himself

INR: A respite till the next one

I can be totally inspired by things like the athletics but the reality is that I am a man whose body is inevitably declining as part of the ageing process. That was brought home with a bump by needing to go for my regular INR check on Friday which regulates my warfarin intake. Good news in that it is just within range and so I don’t need to be checked again till after I come back from Torremolinos in November.

warfarin tablets

Books and Reading

‘Burntcoat’ by Sarah Hall and the pleasure of reading on the bus

I often travel around London now more by bus than tube simply because it’s cheaper. It’s an aspect of not working and trying to live frugally. And I am discovering the pleasure that comes from sitting on the upper deck and watching the world from a higher point whilst also dipping into a good book.

Only one book finished last week (and much of it read whilst I was on the bus). Sarah Hall is another contemporary author I really rate – why are there so few good young male British writers coming through?

A nice, concise book covering the life of an artist. Burntcoat is the name of her studio / home. We learn about her stressful childhood and finding love in later life. It’s a book written in 2021 and moves into the realms of fantasy with the impact of a pandemic but one much more deadly than Covid. It could have been a much bigger and denser book. But I think it tells us what we need to know and shows how easily a person’s life can be condensed to the key points that explain it.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Art and Culture

I watched the final 2 episodes of ‘Becoming Elizabeth’ which I really enjoyed (though the scenery was a bit repetitive). Real shame there is no new series now that Edward is dying with the drama to come of the 9 Days of Lady Jane Grey to be succeeded by Mary. TBH, beyond that, culture and art last week were located firmly in the world of sport.

Why I love the Athletics

The main thing about last week for me was the inspiration and motivation I took from the World Athletics Championships. It’s not just about being the fastest and strongest, it’s also about strategic thinking especially on the track: where to position yourself and when to break? Plus dramas such as whether previous greats are still great and who are the bright young things to break through?

My personal highlight

Probably the highlight for me was Josh Kerr’s win in the 1,500 metres. I love the middle distance runs. Shorter distances just feel like people throwing themselves forward with everything they’ve got. Longer and it feels a bit dull just gong round and round the same small track.

Classic race with Kerr just pipping Ingebrigsten in the final few metres. Beautifully run with perfect intelligence. Must have been gutting for the Norwegian who was the favourite and lost in exactly the same way to Jake Wightman (injured for this contest) at the same World Athletics Championships the year before.


QPR: Firmly in the relegation zone already

Another defeat on Saturday. Apparently we were ‘unlucky’ but luck is what you make. So 4 games played and 3 defeats. We sit just outside the relegation zone but firmly in the second half of the division. OK, early days and a couple of victories could dramatically change things. But, similarly, the rot can set in and confidence collapse at a very early point.


Family and Friends

Mum: Fish and chips time again

Plenty of time spent with mum again with me doing physical stuff to help out plus ensuring she has company. I wrote last week about how mum loves fish and chips, and came over to Dave’s for some. Friday we got some from a shop she likes in Fulham though it needed warming up by the time we got it home. TBH, I think mum felt a bit disappointed preferring to eat it straight after it’s freshly cooked.

Dave away for work

My partner went off for a week away related to work duties on Wednesday. I knew he would be busy so I left it for him to phone me when he could though that was further curtailed by the poor wi-fi where he was in the countryside. Obviously, I had mum and the athletics to distract me but I still missed him. Although I did find it amusing when he told me about how he was being bitten to pieces by the local insects LOL.

Home alone film poster

The joy of seeing friends

Brilliant to catch up with our friends Patrick and Frances on Tuesday. We met for lunch in Covent Garden. It was particularly nice to catch up with Frances who we hadn’t seen since she had been on her travels. And to find out how those travels in Italy and America had gone. Then on Saturday morning, good to have the regular coffee catch up with Patrick though, of course, Dave couldn’t be there.

Personal Development

My commitment to language learning

I haven’t written about my language learning for a few weeks. Primarily because it’s been a case of steady progress. I suspect success in athletics is like success in everything – perseverance in the training. And my language learning feels like training. I am still doing Duolingo in Spanish and German each day. Sometimes it’s a lot more than other days but basically I continue to look for gaps wherever I can to squeeze it in. It definitely is something I really enjoy.

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

Marcus Aurelius

The Week Ahead

  • Despite the inspiration of the athletics, my exercise plan for next week is totally up in the air. Whether I can get to the gym or the pool is going to be dictated on how my Achilles feels.
  • Plus on Wednesday, I may be accompanying Patrick for a hospital visit if Dave isn’t back from his work trip.
  • In terms of books, I should complete ‘Oranges and Lemons’ by Christopher Fowler (reassuringly fun) and ‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow’ by Gabrielle Zeven (surprisingly addictive).
  • Linked to my prostate issues, I’ve got an ultrasound of my bladder on Monday week. And I need to keep a record of all the fluids I take in and expel over 3 days. So got to get the measuring jug out…
  • QPR play Middlesborough away next week. They are doing worse than us so if we can’t win there then we really are in deep shit.

And Finally…

If you're not careful...

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