aging · Aikido · fall

Falling well and melting into the ground

A senior resolves not to fall in 2019.

Lots of friends shared this Globe and Mail first person account of falling. It’s a moving piece and it got me thinking about falling, again. I’ve blogged lots about it. I’ve also blogged about fear of falling and its bad effects, since moving less out of fear is also really bad for us as we age.

So much of the emphasis in commentary is on not falling. And I get that. There’s lots we can do to avoid falling: strength training, balance work, etc. We can also wear boots with grippy things on the sole, put snow tires on our bikes, shovel and salt our walkways.

We can also work on strengthening our bones so that when we do fall, we’re less likely to break things.

And yet, sometimes falling is inevitable.

Then it’s important to know how to fall well.

Most of us do things that make falling worse. We stiffen up. We brace ourselves. We try to put off falling as long as possible. We stick out our arms to break our fall. These things make it more likely that we’ll break something.

What to do instead? Relax. Get low to the ground so you’re not falling from a great height. Imagine yourself gently melting into the ground. Curl yourself into a ball. Weirdly, embrace the fall. I’m going to fall with style!

How do you learn this? Muscle memory, practise. You don’t need to be a black belt rock star in a martial art. Go get a yellow belt and practise falling. I went to Aikido the other Sunday for the first time in a couple of years. I was happy to find that I still fell softly on the mats. That class I fell dozens of times. In an advanced class it might be hundreds.

Or take out some mats at the gym and fall and get back up again. Repeat each time you’re there.

Akido isn’t just for young people. See. Here’s a story about a dojo just for older women. The photo below is from that story.

Babushkas fight club

fall · Seasonal sadness · winter

November is Sam’s toughest fitness month: Here’s why, what’s yours?

View from inside a rainy window. Photo from Unsplash.

“The noons are more laconic and the sundowns sterner. November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.” Emily Dickinson

Christine’s post this morning reminded me that I need a plan for November. November looms.

Regular readers of the blog know how much I hate late fall. I won’t even link to all my dark and fall hating posts. There’s too many. But here’s one that rolls them all together.

In 2016 here’s how I described November, “November kind of just pounced on me, tackled me to the ground, and pinned me before I even had a chance to tap the mat.” Each year, I struggle with November. In 2014, I set specific November goals. In 2016, I gave in and set my sights on December.

What’s wrong with November exactly?

Brief recap: It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s wet. And there’s no snow yet to play in.

That’s my annual seasonally affected whine. It’s saved by Christmas (bright lights) and then by the new year (increasing light, bigger plans and ambitions) but November often feels to me like one long, slow, dark miserable month.

It’s best when I ride anyway and get tough but I don’t always have the stamina for that.

It’s also, just in terms of training, a weird time. Back before the fittest by fifty challenge with Tracy, I just tended to go into the fall as long as I could and then give up completely until after the new year. November was my annual fitness dark valley.

During the challenge I moved my serious bike training indoors come end of October and stuck with a plan.

Now I’m not quite sure where I am here in 2018. My evenings are often busy with work commitments so I can’t sign up for regular indoor bike training. Training on my bike at home on the trainer happens later, when I’m keen, but I’m not there yet.

This year I made a plan for the early fall and pledged to tell new stories. I took swimming lessons and that helped. But they’ve ended. It’s darker and colder and my resolve is wearing thin.

So I need a plan for November and biking. Might be indoor spin classes at lunch a couple of times a week. Might be adding a 10-20 km loop to my morning commute or riding at lunch hour. Might be doing more consistent lower body strength training that’s not just rehab of my miserable left knee.

I don’t know yet what my plan will be. There’s a few days left in October yet. But I know I need a plan. And I’m working on it.

Is there a month you hate the most from a fitness point of view? What’s the challenge? How do you cope?