Friday, 31 August 2012

OMM Cypher smock, Preview

Starting out with a bit more running after a month or so layoff, (life doesn't half get in the way sometimes), I'm getting back out on the hills in search of a bit of peace, quiet and adventure. As you may well have read in a previous post, the Montane Spektr Smock didn't exactly come up to expectations in terms of a decent, rugged and dependable jacket.
There were far too many flaws with it, but that is all documented in the afore mentioned blog.

Having managed to sell it on to a lightweight traveller, I concentrated on looking for the next jacket on my list for trying out, and was able to come across the OMM Cypher Smock at Ratrace for somewhat less than the general £200 asking price, which was a complete bonus.

I have received the jacket now, a size Small (I was a medium in the Spektr). It fits well, and the key points about it which appear to make it as good as, and indeed better than the Spektr are that it is made of the same stuff, (3 layer eVent), but it has a hood with volumisers AND a peak, which means that it actually fits on my head, and doesn't blow around the place letting large amounts of wind and water in, it has a zip opening, which means that I don't have to try faffing around with the tornado roll system when the weather is particularly horrible (or indeed, when it is generally quite nice), and it is bright yellow.

Oh, and has a pocket. Not the most important thing, but when you want to put a compass or a bar somewhere, it is there to be used. Excellent.

I haven't yet used it in anger (having only just got it out of the packaging), but overall, it looks flipping excellent, and ticks all the boxes that the Spektr did not.
Its almost made me want to see a deterioration in the weather so that I can head on out and test it.

Rest assured, when I do, I shall report back with as many good and bad things as I can find about it.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Olympic Volunteering

It's now long enough after the Olympics for the whole thing to have pretty much sunk in. I have overcome the sleep defecit, and am just about functioning as a normal human being- but haven't yet managed to get back into all the running and cycling that I was doing beforehand.
(Odd isn't it that the olympics were meant to inspire everyone to get out and do stuff, and yet I was far more active before I went than after I came back... it was probably something to do with a minor tweak I picked up down there, but there you go)

This is just a short post with a couple of photos (we have a total of more than 1000) about the whole thing as there have been so many stories, articles and column inches written about the whole thing that at some point a line will have to be drawn. Rather than write a whole huge long rambling story, I thought it might be nice to write a few of the things that really stuck out in my mind.

 - The atmosphere in the park, the velodrome, and even the tube was amazing. Everyone was focussed on what was good about London and the Olympics.
Inside the "drome"

 - 6,000 people in an enclosed velodrome make more noise than 80,000 people in a stadium. When Chris Hoy kicks, he really goes for it.

 - When you have 70,000 volunteers all in the same uniform, it doesn't feel quite so horrendous as when you first saw it. No, it will never be fashionable, no, the epaulettes did not look good, but the number of people wearing it made it ok rather than laughable.

- Walking through Stratford first thing in the morning, surrounded by police with guns, people in purple shouting "Good Morning" at you, and being ushered in the "right" direction feels strange, and uncomfortably close to a police state.

 - No you can't bring any kind of drink, and only a small amount of food into the Olympic park, but you can pay exorbitant amounts of cash for "food" once you are in there.

 - Enthusiastic volunteers make things work - and work well.

 - Speak to everyone you can, and learn from them. Tomorrow they may well turn out to be a Gold Medal winner.
"The Bolt"

 - No matter where you go and what organisation you work for, middle managers will always have had the same training  - "management by dictatorship"

 - When volunteering be prepared to be knackered for the vast majority of the time, but still have a smile on your face.

Yes, it was a jolly old time, and I learned a lot. It was not only the meeting of the athletes that was fantastic, but the opportunity to meet with and talk to other health professionals, physios, sports doctors, paramedics etc. with in a sporting context as this enabled me to see how the whole thing was put together, and also enabled me to appreciate the differences in what we do and the angles from which we are coming from in terms of sports people and their injuries.
My time in the velodrome watching athletes practice and perform to the best of their abilities, and also seeing them as normal people was very inspiring. They are normal people doing extraordinary things. 
Christine having won her silver

GB pursuit on target for Gold

GB Pursuit practicing


Team Global Therapies outside the Velodrome

The bell in the drome. (The one that goes "ding")

The Coolest bike of the lot. The derny.

The flame

Early morning at the velodrome. Definitely the best time to see it, without the crowds
Me, attempting to look very cool indeed.

Inspiring as a whole, but knackered me out. Just need to get back out running again now.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Body control, cookers and hair dryers

Not looking pretty. Or easy. Showing lots of imbalances.
There comes a point where you are pretty happy with the way you are, your performances in sport, yet there is always that niggling doubt about how much better you *could* be. Training plans get written, you get a bit faster, lactic training, hill training, strength training, aerobic and an aerobic thresholds looked at and analyzed.

But what if you are missing something? Something that is simple, yet, if you don't have it, you compensate.

I had an assessment recently, a functional movement type thing. In the past I have dabbled a little with pilates and found it, well, not easy as such, but certainly not impossible. I could quite happily move myself as the instructor wanted and make the shapes necessary.

This time in the assessment- 1-2-1, the movements and functions were easy. I did what I always do and muscled through them. Then I started getting poked and prodded in different muscles which were being used to keep me in position. Muscles which should have been relaxed.

The long and short of it is that although I appear to be strong, and have muscles, they are firing in all kinds of crazy compensation patterns which enable me to look like I am doing the right thing, but in fact I couldn't be further from what I should be doing.

What is interesting is that people tend to go to physios for assessment when they are injured, when something hurts, not because they "walk funny". I saw this person at the "walk funny" stage- which is quite rare.

So, comes the task of re-educating my movement patterns. Its not that the muscles aren't there, they are, but my brain isn't activating them in the right pattern. If I do any gross movements, the old "wrong" movement patterns immediately kick back in. Slow, easy, balanced movements.
This isn't just learning how to balance on one leg, its like trying to learn how to walk all over again, but with other muscles that are trying to kick in to compensate without even being asked.
At the same time, I still have all my faculties, so I can still walk, run, cycle, climb, lift weights etc. But the more I do that, the more the old movement pattens get ingrained.

One of the problems is that I can't even feel the muscles I'm meant to be using. Its like having the volume control of everything turned up to 11, and the things I am listening for are somewhere below a 1. Very difficult and frustrating.

However, as the physio said. If I can get this working, if I can make these muscles work correctly and move better, rather than compensate, my power, speed and control will dramatically improve.
If I don't, I'll still be able to run etc, but at some point, a small injury will bring me down, and because that muscle is being used for more than it is meant to be used for, that small thing will have catastrophic consequences.

As an analogy, if you have a cooker and a hair dryer and you use the cooker to eat *and* dry your hair, and have no concept of how to use a hair dryer to dry your hair, (far stretched, but bear with me) if your cooker breaks, you are screwed. You can't cook, and you can't dry your hair. Yes, you can at that point learn how to use a hair drier, but its not going to be any use in terms of roasting a joint.

That's kind of where my muscles are at the moment. I've got to learn to use a hair dryer before my cooker decides it is going to break.

Enough about cookers.

I really was very lucky to meet this practitioner, I have had a number of suggestions and diagnoses as to what is going on, but nothing solid that seems right. I'm glad I got this looked at before anything disastrous happened, but getting to a stage of "rightness" is going to take quite a while. Unfortunately I'm at the wrong end of the country to take advantage of her knowledge and skill set, so I face the somewhat difficult task of finding someone who can sort me out.
Anyone near Manchester want to take on a bit of a challenge?