Tuesday 24th January 2012
I have been doing well at keeping up my diet and exercise regime this year, although it doesn't seem to be having much effect on my weight. It seems to be going down and then up and then down and then up for no discernible reason. I know muscle weighs more than fat, blah-de-blah, but think it's probably more down to the fact that I am 44 years old and this kind of thing is just going to get harder. I am feeling a lot healthier and am enjoying the exercise, but it would be nice if my belly would just fuck off a little bit.
Today we planned to play tennis and had even booked a court and got up early, but it was raining so we went swimming instead. I thought there could be nothing worse than a slightly over crowded pool, but there is something worse than that. It's a pool which is not at all crowded when you get into it, but which becomes slightly overcrowded as you swim. The thing I learned today is however bad you think something is, there's always something worse that could be happening. The other day when I looked into the pool and saw it was slightly overcrowded it was annoying (even if, unbenownst to me I couldn't have gone swimming anyway because my trunks were on the pavement outside my house), but at least I could then make the decision to do something different. How I wished the pool had been properly slightly overcrowded before I got into it today. I could have walked away. But as it gradually moved from comfortably non-crowded, to crowded to slightly overcrowded (due to an exercise class starting in one half of the pool, sending length swimming refugees into the lanes rather than the communal area), I was placed in the awful position of becoming an unwilling swimmer in a lane with three others. Yes four people in one lane. I could have got out in a huff, but I would be wet and not sufficiently exercised. I was trapped and had to continue, despite the mild inconvenience of occasionally getting partially trapped behind a slower swimmer or being made to feel uncomfortable by a better swimmer looming behind me, ensnared by my swimming inefficiency.
But you know what. I rose above it. I don't think there is a more noble human being on this planet. In the face of almost impossible pressures and problems I just carried on. Got annoyed and carried on. I think "Get Annoyed and Carry On" would be a much more realistic and achievable slogan.
The psychology of exercise interests me. My lazy brain and body are constantly trying to convince me that I am too tired today and that I should stop - not, it seems understanding that I live in the 21st Century and that food is readily available and I don't need to conserve resources (quite the opposite). Sometimes the mental and physical protests are enough to convince me to stop after 15 minutes or to move to a less demanding stroke. I was about 15 lengths in today and trying to do front crawl, but my arms felt heavy and I was alternating into doggy paddle and breast stoke to give myself a break and thinking that maybe I should get out - the slightly overcrowded nature of the lane was another argument in favour of cutting things short. My girlfriend, who is a much better swimmer than me was in the fast lane (I was in the middle lane) and we happened to start a length at the same time. She was doing breast stroke and I was trying to do front crawl - obviously I should have been streaking ahead, but she was going slightly faster than me. Suddenly it became competitive and my brain and body forgot all about their complaints and combined in the desire to give my girlfriend the drubbing she deserved (with the caveat that she was doing a much slower stroke). She decided to make a contest of it and as I sped up and pounded the water (like Me2 pounding Me1's girlfriend), she upped her effort levels. I was catching up a little bit but she was still ahead and I was now full of vigour, with fast and strong strokes, where only moments before I had been convinced I didn't have the energy to even swim a slow length of breast stroke. I worried that the exertion might actually mean I was too tired to continue swimming at all, but in truth it just proved that I had a lot of fuel in the tank (my stomach) and I swam another 16 lengths after completing this one.
Humiliatingly my girlfriend still beat me to the end of the lane, though it was close enough for me to pretend I had touched the wall first (even though she knew she had). And she turned round and swam the next length at pretty much the same speed, whereas I had to take it easy to get my breath back. But the point is that any feelings of fatigue had been entirely psychological and when it came to it I had plenty of swim left in me. And with this lesson learned my brain and body had to knuckle down and get on with it.
In swimming, as in all sport (most especially snooker), your main opponent is yourself. In fact I suspect if I start timing myself and swimming a length as Me1 and a length as Me2 and seeing who wins that I might spend most of the day competing with myself and become the fittest man in Shepherd's Bush. On the plus side they are both more puny opponents than my girlfriend. On the negative I am going to have to find some way to mic myself up so I can commentate as I go. Which might mean I swallow quite a lot of the pool.
All the dates for the Talking Cock tour can be found here
Buy the Talking Cock book here
Tickets are now on sale for both my Edinburgh Fringe shows. "We're All Going To Die!" is on at the Pleasance Beyond at 8pm Book here
Richard Herring's Edinburgh Fringe Podcast is at Stand 1 daily at 14.10. Book here
You can get video downloads of Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast from Go Faster Stripe
A video explaining the idea can be seen here
You can buy tickets to the shows from the Leicester Square Theatre website
You can still download the audio for free from the British Comedy Guide or iTunes
You can subscribe to this blog on Kindle. Now only ï¿½0.99 a month here. Or just carry on reading it on here for free.
Also on your kindle (or any smart phone or tablet with the kindle app) catch up on the early years of Warming Up (with extra retrospective additions) with Bye Bye Balham and The Box Lady and Other Pesticles (only ï¿½3.53 each)
[ Email this edition of Warming Up to a friend ]