10 September 2014

Did you know that, in swimming, freestyle actually means free style?

I just found out. It’s fascinating. I’ve always wondered why it’s called freestyle. I mean, you see where the breaststroke or the butterfly stroke comes from. But freestyle? That’s hardly evident.

Turns out freestyle actually means free style. So if you enter yourself in a freestyle competition, you can actually swim however you like. You can even do the breaststroke (aka froggy style), the butterfly stroke, or the backstroke if it’s a stand-alone event. (According to Wikipedia, of course.)

And the swimming stroke commonly adopted in freestyle competition and leisure freestyle swimming is actually the front crawl, which is supposedly chosen for being the fastest stroke of all. No, the irony does not escape me either.

And, unsurprisingly, since virtually everyone chooses to do the front crawl when ‘freestyling’, the front crawl ended up being known as freestyle. Poor front crawl, it should really do something about freestyle unceremoniously taking all the credit.

How about that – an informative entry on my blog. You might have just learnt something new! O Val, the disseminator of knowledge. *chuckles*

Anyways, enough about things that might interest people. Time to talk about me! Weeeeeeee.

So I went for a swim today, froggy style. 1k. You’ll tell me that’s nothing, but I’m quite proud of myself. I feel like 1k is a good benchmark. I’ll try to do 1.5k next time. Or divide my 1k 50-50 into breaststroke and front crawl. Decisions, decisions.

I haven’t done lap swimming in a really long time – since November last year, I think. And I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Which is really good news. I do like running, and it’s a great way to get that endorphin rush, but it is a high-impact sport. I don’t want to run my young body to the ground, so it’s good to have swimming as an alternate exercise. Plus, I might be getting into scuba diving in the intermediate future, and I think being a strong swimmer might be a plus. Just might.

Exercise is great. I’m feeling great. I really should exercise more. Would it be excessive to go for a run now?

It probably wouldn’t.

But then I could watch Big Bang Theory.

Let’s watch Big Bang Theory.

Have a great day!

Val

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 April 2014 (2)

And I am back!

I am on a blogging roll today.

My flight to London is tomorrow. And it’s finally hitting home that in less than two days I’m going to be in London. I’ll be going in the tube, walking in the streets, trying out this coffee shop and that restaurant.

It’s fascinating how 14-15 hours of flight can transport you to a different world. Different weather. Different architecture. Different system. Different people. Different smell. Different everything.

And I’m finally starting to look forward to it.

I discovered a few hours ago that Regent’s Park will be within running distance from my flat, and that’s one of the first things I’m determined to do when I arrive.

Now, that’s me being optimistic. More likely, I’ll just have enough energy to clean my room, unpack, get myself cleaned up, then plump onto the couch/bed/soft item in the flat. Then make myself a cup of coffee and try to get some revision done.

Yes. That sounds like a more realistic plan.

Talking about plans and being realistic, I must get on. That French exposé (oui je parle français, un tout petit peu) isn’t going to write itself.

I’ve sorted out my carry-on, checked the TfL website for travel disruptions, mapped out my jogging route, printed out all the revision notes I made over the past weeks. Yep, that’s pretty much everything productive I can do to put off writing this exposé.

Oh yes, I’ve blogged too. Twice.

#forshame

I highly doubt I will have time to write tomorrow before my long flight, so I guess I’ll ‘see’ you in London.

Take care,

Val

11 April 2014

My left knee hurts.

I don’t remember when it began hurting. Or rather, I don’t know. One day I was fine. Then the pain was there and I could no longer stretch my left leg.

For a person who likes stretching, this is bad. And things only get worse considering that, in exactly two days, I will be deprived of the only sports I can do that supposedly won’t add insult to an injured knee.

I’m talking about swimming. I’ve been meaning to go swimming. I don’t remember the last time I went swimming. Most likely some time in December. Maybe November. More likely December.

That’s a long time ago.

*pause so everyone can reflect on how fast time flies, and how little time we all have on this earth*

I really like swimming. It’s such a… delicate and thorough sport, for lack of better descriptive adjectives. Delicate as opposed to running, which many (including myself) would agree is one of the worst sports one could possibly practise on a regular basis given how high-impact it is, especially on the knees. (Hmm…) And thorough because you can really feel each muscle contract, and control it.

It’s an amazing feeling, tracing your movements to the contraction of your muscles, down to every exertion. I had a Eureka moment some time last year, when I’d just re-taken up swimming, where suddenly everything made sense: I realised my body was under my control.

A fact that goes too often unobserved amidst the chaos of daily life. And one worth making an effort to remember.

I would get back to moaning about my knee, but there’s one thing I must mention now that I’m on the topic of the human body: Koerperwelten.

If you’re not afraid of blood and/or corpses and/or bones, and you can only go to one exhibition in your entire life, this is the one I want you to be going to. It’s annual. I think it actually happens several times per year. But you’re going to have to check (information to follow).

It’s a travelling exhibition. Origin (you guessed it): Germany. I went in September 2012, during my most productive vacation yet in Germany (first day of Oktoberfest – check; Koerperwelten – check, check!). My German friend and host was insistent that we go (because he wanted to), and I went along with him.

And wow. Ain’t I glad I did.

It’s the most beautiful, mind-blowing ensemble of ‘things’ I have ever seen. Koerperwelten (Bodyworlds in English) is, as the website proudly announces, “the original exhibition of real human bodies”. And that’s exactly what it is.

I don’t want to say too much. I went relatively uninformed, and I think there’s a strong case to be made for seeing the exhibition with a blank mental canvas. The imprint will be that much stronger.

Here, though, is information on current exhibitions. (I didn’t know they did simultaneous exhibitions. Well now I do. One does learn a thing or two every day!) Feel free to browse. I wouldn’t Google image it if I were you (and afraid of blood, corpses, and/or bones).

*pause so you can go Google image: Koerperwelten*

#doublereversepsychology
#forwardpsychology?

Now, about that hurting knee. Possibly a result of Sunday’s morning run (6.6k) on concrete. I did go to a park, but the park was so small that the runners (myself included) elected to run on the concrete path that goes around it.

Running on concrete – not a good idea. I don’t think I stretched properly after either.

Could that be why my knee’s hurting? Maybe. Possibly.

But now, what do I do about it? Today’s Friday. I’m at the sports club. I planned to go to my Battle Beat class this evening to use up my last class coupon. Should I go to the class?

But it’s only one coupon. Surely, my knee must take precedence over 125 THB.

Maybe one hour on the elliptical… I did that yesterday. The knee didn’t hurt during, and it didn’t appear to hurt more after. So it should be fine?

So little I know about the workings of my own body. Where did all those hours of high school anatomy lessons go?

I’ll see how I feel.

I’ll see how the knee feels.

Now I’m hungry.

Time for breakfast date with grandpa.

#howcute

Until tomorrow, or maybe this evening,

Have a good day,

Val

 

 

 

29 March 2014

I don’t think I’ve ever had so many slices of bread in one day.

That’s what happens when you stay at home: you eat. Everything and anything you can find within a 5-metre radius.

Four slices for lunch. Then another one just now to soak up all the salad dressing. So much for having salad for dinner!

I love bread. I really do. I always have.

Even now I am struggling not to grab another slice from one of the two loaves (whole wheat and fluffy white) sitting very temptingly to my left.

Hmm… I can smell it, the buttery smell of bread. I can almost taste it.

Speaking of bread and breakfast, there is nothing I love more than the smell of fresh toast and coffee in the morning. I distinctly remember, one day in the summer of 2012, I was in London. I had got up super early to get to my work shift. I put a slice of bread (multi grain) in the toaster, and popped my moka pot on the stove. Then, as the smell of toast filled the kitchen and the coffee started bubbling, I realised how much I loved that moment.

How happy I was. I felt at peace. At one with my surroundings. Content with my life.

It’s a great feeling. It’s easily the most memorable breakfast I’ve ever had. I remember nothing of the day that followed, but that moment in the kitchen is as vivid in my mind as if it were yesterday.

Hmm… I’m already planning getting up early tomorrow morning to have a slice over coffee before I go for my morning run.

Yes. Let’s do that.

If I wake up early enough, I might even get some reading done before I leave the house.

So that’s it from me for today, short and sweet,

Good night,

Val

 

 

24 March 2014

I have been alerted to the existence of a one-hour BBC documentary on cats.

It is 7pm. Experience indicates this is way past effective revision time.

So, instead of doing my head in trying to type up another article on European unemployment, I’ve decided to watch this cat documentary and go to bed early.

How very sensible of me.

Oh, oh! I did another run this morning – 7.8k! I’m going to try and make this a Monday routine. It’s a great way to start the week.

The few-hour bliss period post-run is also quite good for my revision.

But then the bubble burst and I yawned through a whole article on… what was it again? (UK productivity growth in comparison with other leading OECD economies)

Anyways, I’m happy with my revision progress today. I could have done more. But that line of thinking is no good. For one, it’s not going to change the fact that I am tired.

And that I’m about to spend one hour watching cats.

Have a good evening everyone! Cats calling 😀

Val

22 March 2014

It rained today. Proper, torrential, rain.

The rain took me by surprise. The sun had been out in full swing for the past month, maybe more. And I had come to expect nothing but blazing heat.

We had just been for a run in the park when the torrent fell. Luckily, we were by then indoors, snugly huddled around a table, coffee in hand. And I could not be happier that I had decided to bring my car to the café rather than walk the 500 metres.

Given my dislike of driving in Bangkok and my fondness for walking, me opting for the car was extremely unlikely.

So, this either suggests I was extremely lucky, or offers conclusive proof that I’m psychic.

I’ll let you choose.

After so many weeks of Summer heat, the rain was a welcome respite. The sight and sound of the storm raging outside provided a surprisingly relaxing backdrop to our coffee-fuelled conversation.

It was a perfect morning, to be followed by a perfect afternoon as I sat revising under the verandah. The sound of raindrops falling on the roof. The light touch of the cool breeze on my skin. The smell of wet grass. The coolness and freshness of it all.

Revision had never been more aesthetically pleasing.

18 March 2014

According to CardioTrainer, I burned over 1,000 calories today. Which is a lot, by my standards.

So, apart from the 5.7k outdoor run this morning (see how proud I am? I’m still boasting about it), I did a one-hour Battle Beat class, which is basically a boxing style super intense class where you kick, jump, and punch a lot, and continuously. (It’s really tiring. Oh trust me it is.)

Then another hour of Danxercise which, after Battle Beat, was like a walk in the park. A very fun walk though. One hour where I get to do all the silly moves, shake my head, shake my [insert body part of choice], and just laugh and not worry about how ridiculous I look. Because everyone is doing the same. It’s a great stress relief.

Well, actually, both classes are great for relieving stress. Battle Beat has you concentrating so hard on your body movements you invariably end up not thinking about whatever it is that’s stressing you out in the first place. And Danxercise just makes you feel silly and happy, sometimes enough to make your stress and worries disappear.

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t. I actually use my Danxercise class as my stress gauge. If I feel better during (and after) the class, my stress level is in the green zone. If I feel better at various points during (but not after) the class, my stress level has gone into yellow zone. And when I do not enjoy the class at all is when alarm bells start ringing in my head: code red, code red.

That’s what happened last week actually. I was so stressed I couldn’t enjoy the dance. And realising how stressed I was in this particular instance just made me even more stressed: the vicious cycle of self-fulfilling stress! Ha.

As you can see through my cheery tone, though, this week I had the most amazing fun in my dance class. Stress level back to normal.

Now are you curious to know why I was so stressed and why I no longer am? No? OK.

Oh I’m being ridiculous aren’t I. I’m obviously still in my silly, happy mode.

Which is good. Very good.

Maybe I tell you more about why this is later.

I’m sure you feel sufficiently bombarded by unwanted information about my day by now.

Until tomorrow,

Val

p.s. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Did I tell you a pigeon pooed on me during my run this morning? Yes. That totally happened. I just shook the excrement off my arm and kept running. Such a dedicate (and totally gross) runner.

p.p.s. Yes, I scrubbed my arm really, really clean afterwards. You can feel less disgusted now.