After a whole month away from the game, three weeks of it on skis in Canada – my step into retirement holiday – it has been surprising how quickly I’ve got back in the groove.
That first step back on court things were a bit rusty I still felt like I was in ski boots and moved like it. I was even a little bored midway through my first coaching session. These changes in routine are natural times to think and re-evaluate. In this case, is this commitment worth it in time and money. It’s a good question to hold onto and I think the regular re-evaluation is a good thing.
After about ten days back and after half a dozen on court sessions, my arm hurt like hell. Not just one part of it but my whole arm, from shoulder to wrist. Then at the start of a session last Thursday evening Matt said after about 15 mins in “can you stop hitting the ball so hard, as I can’t return it and we are not getting any rallies going. Can we drop the pace a little so we can rally?”
Such a good comment. And I had been oblivious to it. I stopped trying to hit the cover off the ball and we had a really good hit. I realised that since returning I had been trying to rush back to where I left off and was muscling the ball across the net, hence the painful right arm. By the end of the session everything was a lot freer and the pain was reducing. A day later the arm is much more comfortable and I am not having to think about taking a few days off to recover.
While away I was keen to retain some of the fitness I had worked so hard for, so committed to the occasional post skiing run and stretched pretty regularly. My normal ski holiday routine involves late afternoon hot chocolate and cake, which I replaced with coffee and fresh fruit and hummous. After a month away I returned at the same weight I left. Pretty amazing as a one week ski holiday can usually guarantee to add 4-5 pounds.
There was a big surprise on the fitness front as well. Parkrun is a world wide phenomena. Free 5k runs every Saturday morning at 9am. And so it was thanks to friends giving me a lift to the start point that I found myself running along side Lake Ontario one cold March morning. The only runner in shorts I noted! Spot the tourist!
On this flat out and back course chatting with a fellow runner I reached the half way point way quicker than I anticipated. Stretched out a bit on the return leg and posted a time which made me think the course must be short.
One week later, back home this thought about the short course was still with me. I knew by reputation that the Heartlands course in Cornwall was flat, so decided to go and convince myself that the Lake Ontario course had been short. In my mind I was already penning a note to advise the organisers of their error. To my genuine surprise I was a whole minute quicker. This does not happen in my running experience, as any thoughts on potential times usually have to be trimmed back, to allow for reality.
Nonetheless it was a great surprise! I checked back on previous Parkruns the last one in 2017 and here I am in 2022 actually faster than I was five years ago! This week I ran the same Parkrun again, the course slightly amended in route due to the expected delivery of a wedding cake at 9am and the access had to be left clear to the hall! No one wants to be responsible for knocking over the person carrying the wedding cake, that’s for certain!
What do you know, I was a further 40 seconds faster than last week. Maybe I should stay with the running, performance is so much easier to measure when minutes and seconds are the only measure and no one else can interfere with your performance.
For the moment though I am still with the tennis. This week coming is the English Senior Championships at Welwyn Garden City. Two weeks back from holiday, some reasonable practice under my belt and I am so looking forward to this next adventure.