Olympic Blog #2: Carrot on a stick?

Jane's preparations for Rio are going well, thanks to a timely article in our June magazine.

The dusty bike.
The dusty bike.

My Olympic media fitness programme is going well. So far I’ve achieved more than my goal of 10,000 steps per day (with one exception which involved cars and dentist chairs), but must admit to having creaky knees and hips and a few sore muscles here and there. I still haven’t conquered that bike though. Maybe it is just me, but I really prefer walking or riding. I also refuse to buy those padded bottomed bike shorts.

I’ve got a few Fitbit friends who I can compare myself to via the app, but regretfully my Wellington friend has had too many days playing golf and is still way ahead of me. And being friends with someone who does endurance riding was obviously a mistake.

IMG_2800I know I have to do more cardio work to really get to Olympic fitness, and I hadn’t quite come up with an alternative to cycling when I saw on the cover of the June edition of NZ Horse & Pony “FITNESS FOR RIDERS Cardio”.  Sorry Rowan, I must have skipped past Dusty Perin’s article previously and didn’t remember it, probably because I don’t really see myself as a real rider anymore; I don’t think occasional quiet hacks around the farm qualify me for that description.

Dusty suggests I need to do 225-350 minutes of aerobic exercise a week so I’ve set a goal of 45 minutes a day to start with. Reassuringly, I can break that down to smaller blocks, as frankly, 45 minutes of aerobics would render me speechless at the moment, and Dusty reckons that is a sign of pushing too hard. She suggests 15 minutes on a skipping rope – I think I’ll start with ten minutes –  actually, make that five, I’ll build up. I just need to find that skipping rope. My frayed leads are too short. Would plaited bailing twine work, I wonder?

IMG_2801Dusty also suggests riding a dressage test without a horse. Perfect! I’ll get hold of the test that they will use in the Olympics and go and practise it. Not only will I get fitter, I’ll learn it, which will come in quite handy to impress my fellow journalists with my knowledge – especially those turning up at an equestrian competition for the first time. Friends, please ring me before you call in, I don’t want you to catch me trying flying changes or doing half passes on the lawn (who said I had to use a full-sized arena…?).

Dusty’s article also showed me how to calculate my target heart rate, and suddenly I see how the heart monitor part of my Fitbit may actually be useful.

Didn't get far when I took one donkey out by himself.
Didn’t get far when I took one donkey out by himself.

I also liked Dusty’s idea of going for a run leading my horse. My donkeys are thriving despite our drought-stricken pastures, so I thought I would start with them. The big challenge is to get them going fast enough, stubborn little devils. The first attempt with just one was a dismal failure as they hate to be separated, but then I had a go with both of them at the same time and it worked quite well, although we didn’t manage to get out of a walk. We also ended up having to turn back earlier than I planned as there was no way the little darlings were going over the little drain with just a little bit of water in it. Walking the donkeys actually did become quite good exercise – something like resistance training, I think, although they were a bit faster on the way home. Someone suggested trying a carrot on a stick with the donkeys. Can’t say I think it will work, as how could I can read my Fitbit, pulling two donkeys and holding the stick? I’ll get back to you on how it goes if I do try it.

Catch you later, off for a horse ride, after I’ve written one more article…

"Go over that little bit of water? No way! "
“Go over that little bit of water? No way! “

For the first blog, click on this link.