January brings fresh optimism

At the gym. New routine. Ungainly leaps and pathetic tuck jumps. Hardly leaving the ground. Awkward and self conscious.

Mon 1st. January brings fresh optimism. Allowing myself a little dream on the first day of the year. Then it’s back to work. 

A new gym routine adapted from an online preseason tennis routine I have purchased. Much more varied than previously and with the addition of plyometrics. Basically that is jumping, bounding, twisting and throwing. The theory being that having built up strength it can now be converted into a bit more power and explosiveness. Mix it with continued mobility work for improved athletic performance. That’s the theory anyway. I have a question about how much difference it will actually make as I enter my 64th year.

Having had the thought, about age, I have no intention of carrying the age thing around with me, that’s for others to do. I intend to just go and play. Young, old and in between, it’s all tennis and I can learn from each. 

Weds 3. At the gym. New routine into practice. Ungainly leaps and pathetic tuck jumps. Hardly leaving the ground. Awkward and self conscious. Surprised how heavily this new routine is getting me breathing. Quite tiring as well.  

Technique improves with each additional set. Rounded off with shoulder stretch and some mat work. Feels great. Energised.

On court. Hitting the ball well on the forehand and serve. Really good extension on the ball toss and I feel extra power in the serve even though not hitting at full effort. Backhand and volleys not yet grooved, with a few framed backhands and some not followed through on the swing. 

Thurs 4. Some mild stiffness from yesterday’s workout. Tweaked something in my right arm early in the gym session. Doesn’t feel serious. A reminder to fully warm up. 

Busy morning. Gym, lesson and 2 hrs practice. Turned down evening doubles – wisely, not without temptation. 

Big moment. After much faffing around, ordered new racket. 

Fri 5. The first morning this year forecast to be without rain. It’s raining! Light rain this time. I have fallen into an early year pattern of driving to the gym. It’s not an inconvenience. Easy routine to fall into.

I’m easing myself into the new gym routine. Fearing that sudden changes harbour injury potential, learning from yesterday. Some things just need to be relearnt now and again. If you are injury free it’s a great feeling and the routine matter of warm up (boring) can be sidelined a little. When you are injured it’s the worst feeling in the world. Noted. 

Day two of plyometrics. Jumps, bounds, twists and throws. Warm up (yes) on the rower, as all  the bikes are taken. One easy round of exercises and three more full on rounds. Starting to feel the movements required. Awkwardness slightly reduced. There is no obvious space to throw a medicine ball. Thrown against the wall inside the gym the ball comes back with white dust from the walls. Not the best idea.

Stepping into the outside training area, the cooler air is immediately noticeable along with the cranked up volume from the speakers and more energetic music. I fail to identify the genre, much less identify the tune. The strong fast beat does the trick and injects energy into this deserted space. Me, the cage, early morning, a dappling of freshly blown leaves, music and my plyometric routine. Perfect. Just perfect.

In the outside outdoor area there is just a three foot wide piece of wall, with windows either side and a fire alarm break glass in the middle. It is the best option for now. Needless to say I throw the medicine ball carefully. 

My two footed leaps feel great and I cover about two metres with the best ones. On the other hand my tuck jumps are pathetic. I can see my reflection in the window. Hardly getting off the ground and I thought those knees were meant to come up to your chest! I catch a couple of quizical glances from others inside the gym. 

Later. Stretching. I am holding the 90/90 on my less flexible left side it is painful and difficult to hold the position. I breathe deeply, exhale and try to relax into the discomfort coming from my left hand side. Hold for one minutes, stretch, then repeat.  

I am aware that this is what I normally do. By this time in my routine I am usually looking at my watch thinking it time to go, as there are other things to do and hold for around one minute. Or at least the count of 60.  I realise this morning that I have time. The only determining factor on how long I hold this position, is how long I want to hold the position for. Translates into, how much do I want to see an improvement?

Ambition stripped bare. No excuses. Just me, the stretch and the discomfort. I hold for two minutes. 

There’s something happening. My mind goes back to yesterday’s tennis. There were a couple of balls which I had no right to reach. Made them and eventually won the point. This is the small margin stuff, the stuff I hope  – believe maybe – will help make the difference. 

Still can’t touch my toes!

Keep working at it.

How is this year different? Does it need to be different? What needs to be different? When will it be different? Will it be different? Early year questions.

Pre season ending in a week or so as the first competition of the year is on its way. I can hardly wait.

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