Is anybody else in their mid-40s and seriously struggling with surfing?
My 47th birthday approaches and my body feels like a leaden weight. I'm fit and strong, with a healthy heart and decent pulse, but flexibility, suppleness and 'spring' belong to another age.
A lost age.
Maybe it's the metal cage at C4 in my neck, maybe it's all the broken bones, torn ligaments and severed tendons over the years, maybe it's playing football a lot lately and ending up with chronic Achilles tendonitis in both legs, or maybe it's just what happens when you reach middle age. But the reality of surfing for me, today, was that I could barely get to my feet. I just had no umph to get me there.
Now, it is undoubtedly true that I have had a lot of injuries and that I've pushed myself when I shouldn't have done. My body is knackered. But albeit that playing football and surfing have lately turned into an exercise in ritual humiliation, in which I kid myself that the occasional flash of what once passed for ability shows I can still do it but actually just have a nightmare, in other environments I'm fine. I can do 10 rounds on the bags/pads and feel fit as a fiddle. Circuit training is tough but fine. I can walk for miles and barely feel I've done a thing. I can swim a long way (as in, a mile or so) without getting tired.
So what is going on?
If anyone knows anything about fitness for (mid)40-year-olds, which is correct:
1. Despite recovering well from neck surgery I walk about with two herniated discs at C5 and 6. This, with the surgery of a couple of years back, means that I am about as flexible as a lamppost in a coffin, its light still flickering but just a bit, as if it still made a difference or meant something but is in fact redundant.
2. It's cold. Very. This has a detrimental effect on 'active' sports (at my age).
3. I'm 46. Simple. My best days are long gone. I should give up football entirely (agreed) and only surf sparingly (really?). That way there's still a chance of a good session. Constantly pushing myself, as I do, is a recipe for disaster.
4. It's time to get a dog and go for long walks. One that lives with me, that is. And get into gardening (which I do quite like).
Sometimes, in this usually optimistic, glass half-full blog, one feels depressed. But wait, what's this? An email from my friend Mr Ryan Air. He reminds me to check in because I'm off to Lanzarote on Saturday with my sons, Harry and Elliot. Warm water, warm air, warm waves, an island I know with people who are nice... Maybe surfing will work for me again?
Hope springs eternal (in the minds of the serially deluded, at least).
Pictured courtesy of Cammer's Camera: me, at the crest of a wave.