So who knew all the core strength and balance work would prove so useful at Badminton? Sadly, I wasn't riding, but I was staying in the lorry with friends on the campsite, which has been an annual event for a few years now. It's a great way to spend the week, and the people who run the campsite do a fantastic job.
In common with lots of people (I think!) I've always taken flipflops to wear in the campsite showers, but have sometimes found it quite a challenge to balance myself on one leg for a prolonged time when doing the whole 'drying myself/getting out of flip flops and into clothes and shoes' thing. This year - no problem! I think the (quite difficult!) single leg squat and hop in week eight's programme has helped a lot. It's odd the things which make you realise how far you have come!
Well, at long last I have completed week 7 to what I think it an 'acceptable' standard - hurrah! I've done the pyramid workout three times, as well as the intermediate core workout and I am relieved that I have finally managed to galvanise myself to do it properly.
I think my main problem has been trying to fit everything in - and not scheduling when I will actually do the programme. I'm much better if I get up early and exercise, but if I'm honest, it is sometimes just a bit too tempting to stay in bed! However, I've come to the conclusion I am much better to plan ahead when I will do the programme and then I can't convince myself that 'I really will do it tomorrow' and go back to sleep...
Because I have been working in London a lot, I've been doing a lot more walking to and from the office. Yesterday I worked out I'd walked about six miles, which was a surprise. It has meant, though, that I've had to adopt the 'trainers and office gear' look, which I am never quite sure about, but there are lots of London commuters doing the same, so it's not so bad.
I am feeling a lot fitter, and trying hard to be very symmetrical when I ride, as this has been one of my main problems. It's always interesting to see other riders though, and I had a great opportunity last weekend when I did some dressage writing at Weston Park BE for my trainer Sue, who was judging a section. It was really great to see horses and riders who looked like they were perfectly in harmony and happy - the best of them looked like they were working together through the test and made it look easy. I'm also in awe of the riders who have multiple rides - they must be very fit and super-organised to successfully manage all three phases with very different horses, never mind remembering different dressage tests for different levels!
Thanks Motion Photography for their gorgeous photo
Week two complete, and I have some new-found skills and have been able to put my best Blue Peter talents to good use! First, though, I'd better introduce myself a bit more fully than last week. I work full time as an editor for a farming newspaper, so trying to fit in work, riding, competing and keeping fit and healthy can sometimes seem like quite a tall order.
I've owned Moley, a cheeky 17.1hh KWPN gelding for about 18 months and we compete in everything from dressage to music to eventing. Before I bought Moley, I'd owned Giant, a 17.2 ISH for seven years, so a new horse was a bit of a shock to the system and it took me a long time to get used to the change - Moley has much bigger paces and a different outlook to life than Giant.
I know Moley goes much better when I ride well, which has really driven me to become a better rider and much fitter. I've been doing some work on my strength, fitness and especially on making my core stronger, but thought the chance of doing the 12 week programme was too good to pass up.
This second week has been good - and I have become better at planking as time has gone on, but I was pretty shaky at 30 seconds to start with. I've also learned about gliding - whether it's running, skating or shimmering! I was wondering what to use for the gliding and it suddenly dawned on me that the A4 plastic pockets you can use to put things in ring binder folders would be perfect - and they were! Blue Peter, eat your heart out!
The articles on the site have been interesting this week, and I found a really good blog post about sitting better at work which should help with riding - I just need to make sure I put it into practice regularly now. Here's the link if you are interested: http://www.theactiverider.com/blog/files/c102f80f4eecc435e46903a7fbf3a120-7.html
I'm just about to start week three now, and also have a physio appointment for Moley and an osteopath session for me booked in, so it's going to be a busy week. I'll let you know how it goes.
Blog 3 - An unscheduled dismount!
Falling off my 17.1 horse wasn't part of the programme this week, and it was quite a surprise...The combination of blue sky and sun, a sharp wind and a passing cyclist proved too much for a fresh-feeling Moley, and my (very slippy!) winter riding overtrousers were no help whatsoever when he decided to have a mini explosion in the outdoor school. Never mind, at least I had a prebooked appointment with my osteopath to look forward to!
It was an interesting visit, and tallied with Carys' assessment from the videos and pictures I send as part of week one of this course. I've been feeling blocked in my thoracic spine for a while now, so the appointment concentrated quite a bit on that, and I now have some additional exercises to add to the growing list.
I've enjoyed this week's programme, and can see some improvement. A plank for 30 seconds is much less of a challenge than it was last week, and the cardio circuit is short and sweet, so not too scary, but it still makes me puff.
Even though I have been away for a few nights with work this week, it's been fairly straightforward to keep going on the programme as I didn't need any specific bits of kit.
One thing which has helped with the 30 second bursts of exercise is an app I discovered - I've programmed it for 40 second intervals, which gives me enough time to get organised and do the 30 second exercise before the sound of grasshoppers kicks in and I get on with doing the next task on the sheet. It's amazing how quickly three circuits of exercises passes when you have no time to think about it.
Moley has also had a treat this week, as our regular physio, Fiona Johnstone, came to give him a check up. I think a regular physio session is a good idea for horses, and Moley certainly seems to enjoy the attention. Like me though, he's got some exercises to do for the next few weeks as we work to build his core strength as well as mine!
Blog 4 - Falling behind!
It's a couple of weeks since I last wrote, and that's mainly as I've repeated week 4 of the 12 week course. I seemed to be so busy last week that I didn't really get a chance to get properly going, so I decided the best thing was just to do week 4 all over again. It's been good though, and some new exercises have challenged my balance! I'm not sure I've quite got the hang of the single leg straight leg dead lift, even though Carys makes it look quite straightforward in the accompanying video. At least no-one can see me wobbling through that one, but I'm pleased with how much better I am managing to do the press-ups.
The posture workout, of reverse flyers, scarecrow arms and cobra, has been very quick to do. It has also worked really well with some of the additional exercises my osteopath has given me to do, and I am feeling much freerer in my thoracic spine. Now I think it's just a matter of making sure I keep doing them to make sure I don't revert back to being 'stuck'.
Moley is on good form, and feeling well, especially after a good canter round the farm ride at Somerford Park in the sunshine last weekend. We were supposed to make our BE 2016 debut this weekend at Askham Bryan in Yorkshire but unfortunately the weather meant it was abandoned. It's disappointing news for everyone involved, especially the organisers who put in so much hard work, all for nothing. So, instead we are off to do some working hunter and then a lesson on Sunday. It's all go, but it's great to be out and about and making progress!
Thanks Motion Event Photography for their photo
You know when you come out of the arena having just done a jumping round and you're breathing like you've done a 400m sprint and requiring oxygen that you really DO need to do something about your fitness..... So it's probably a good thing I've started The Active Rider 12 week plan, and I'm pleased to be blogging about it. Hopefully, I'll be a good bit fitter by the time the eventing season starts, and writing this means I will be able to track my progress over the weeks.
It's been a good first week - and it's great that I actually have to write about it as it means no shirking! I wasn't quite sure what the plan would involve, so I spent a while reading the first week's programme and the other articles that are part of it, and then decided I really had to get going. The programme is quite in depth, with video links to explain everything, and it is specifically targeted at riding, which is great.
I've found the two workouts quite straightforward so far, and they really don't take long at all - but the more aerobic one (especially the 30 second bursts of 'fast feet') does make me puff, which is good. I'm also feeling more aware of my core having done the core workout, but it still takes quite a bit of discipline to remind myself to sit better at my desk at work or when I am driving. I've alternated the workouts each day, which has worked well, and have been trying to drink more water as part of this programme too.
So, a good first week and I do feel a bit better already. Bring on week two!