If you looked into my sporting past, the results would be boring and lacklustre in equal parts. While I always enjoyed ‘just-for-fun’ leagues, like the softball games we would organise at college or when I’d go curling with co-workers for a staff party (if you’ve never gone curling, I promise it’s a more fun to play than it is to watch), competitive sports were never my thing.
As a baby, my feet were turned in. Instead of putting me in a brace, the doctor told my parents to put me in ice skates. So, as a kid I enjoyed speed skating. With speed skating, you’re usually just racing against your previous best time, so this sport suited my non-competitive spirit – all the while doing a pretty decent job of straightening my legs.
In high school, I joined the volleyball team, but only because I knew it would look good on my CV when I filled in my college applications. For all intents and purposes, I was a bench-warmer. Instead of being sporty, I was a voracious reader and loved studying music. The arts were always, really, my sport of choice.
When it comes to staying active, maybe the magic combination is finding something which stimulates your mind while strengthening your body.
The idea that I ‘just wasn’t good at sports’ remained with me throughout my life, and even to this day. It was only over the weekend, as we finished our silage, that I realised I actually do have a bit of strength and stamina and maybe I should reconsider whether or not I am truly a “bad” athlete.
Besides working my usual Friday (and cooking heaps of bacon and cabbage for hungry silage workers), I also had to sneak away for a bit for sports day at my children’s school. The annual parents’ races at sports day are better left to my husband, but as he was stuck to his tractor I was the only one able to go. I am pretty sure my kids were just the tiniest bit disappointed.
“You know I’m not very good at sports,” I told them in the car.
“It’s fine mummy, we just want you to come,” my eldest very kindly replied.
And so I vowed to go and do my best. And I realised I wasn’t lagging behind the other mammies as much as I expected. Even just that tiny realisation made me feel better. The next day, I had to help cover the silage pit. This is a dirty, thankless job which always takes hours. I didn’t think I would have the stamina for it, but I was wrong. Instead of feeling exhausted, I walked (ok, limped) away from the pit feeling pretty good about myself. Throwing a bunch of tyres on a massive heap of grass? That is a full body work-out.
In this edition, and continuing on with our Women in Action series, Sarah McIntosh speaks with Caitriona Gleeson from the hiking group Aonach ar Siul, based in Co Tipperary. Much of what she says – how the club is a great social outlet for mothers with older kids, or for those who love nature, or those who want to meet new people – is really relatable. Caitriona reached out to Irish Country Living to tell us about this hiking club after seeing our first Women in Action feature (Flex Well at Flexelle, 8 June). If you have a club, class or unique approach to fitness you would like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you.
When it comes to staying active, maybe the magic combination is finding something which stimulates your mind while strengthening your body. Whether that is playing your favourite sport, lifting weights at the gym or throwing tyres around the silage pit with your family; I’m thinking it just needs to be goal-oriented with an element of fun.
To clarify, though, I’m not getting back up on the pit to test this hypothesis.