Well things are really nice at the moment as we enjoy that rare thing, a heat wave in the British Isles, both my daughters 21st and grandson’s 3rd birthday parties were glorious occasions as a result. It is interesting too how people react to the change in the climate especially the ones that moan about it being too hot. About damn time in my opinion and I am loving it, I have been doing my weights out in the garden and it is really refreshing to train out there in the fresh air especially if there is a light breeze. We have been taking it a little easier at Ju Jitsu too these last 2 weeks due to the heat, just easing off the pace and intensity, adapting, sensibly in my opinion, not just due to the heat but most people’s main holidays are coming up and no one wants to pick up an injury that may spoil this for themselves and family.

The very sad deaths of two servicemen in the Brecon Beacon Mountains this weekend just goes to show that even a British heat wave can be a game changer if you are working the body hard. This is difficult to handle for goal orientated, focused individuals who feel that in the face of adversity, including extremes of weather, the response is to ramp up the training rather than to tone it down. Well been there done it and worn the sweat soaked t shirt. If that floats your boat then go for it, prepare properly, drink lots of fluids before, during and after and work the body and mind hard. Maybe it is an age thing but I am easing off, just a little at the moment, soon I am off doing lots of walking and cycling in Austria for a couple of weeks. In the mornings a series of bodyweight exercises on the veranda before breakfast and a swim or two each day.  Good healthy eating and a good 8 hours sleep a night and then back home to start to build my training regime during August and then start ramping it up again in September.

At the end of August I will be visiting Krav Island in the company of some fantastic kindred souls from the Institute of Krav Maga Scotland and 2 days of hard physical and mental endurance training. Including fight drills in the icy waters of Loch Lomond.  Last year I was an observer, photographing, filming and interviewing this event and feeling the urge to get involved, particularly in the night time training. This year I am going into the action and my anticipation is growing at the thought. I think I could do with finding some icy water in Austria but experience tells me this is not that easy, not like the colder than ice waters of the top lake at Interlaken I swam in a few years back, glacier melt fresh off the Jungfrau, third highest mountain of the Bernese Alps in Switzerland.

Training at Krav Island in the incredible beauty of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is something I am really looking forward to, and, as I prepare physically I will be keeping my fingers crossed that the weather is kind to us. Last year was good and the light drizzle for the first session kept the notorious Scottish midges at bay, that and regular applications of DEET based insect repellent. It is going to be great to actually train with some of the really nice people I met last year, when I complete the training I intend to write a survivors guide to Krav Island. I love the outdoors, I am lucky to live where I do with beautiful countryside and moorland on the doorstep almost. I really enjoy the incredible boost that being out surrounded by nature gives me both physically and mentally, that boost is multiplied when we take our training outdoors too, sometimes we get down and get dirty 😉

Simply moving my weights bench out into the back garden enriches the sensation as those cheeky little endorphins begin to circulate and stimulate, the feel good factor increases as we breathe in good clean air and feel that muscle burn. The intensity is increased again when I step out onto my balcony in Austria and in between sets of exercises I drink in the incredibly beautiful view of mountains and meadows and breathe deeply the extra clean air. Usually we visit in May but this year it is going to be August, so depending on the mountain micro climate, we will make up our plans as we go and yes there will be much reading and relaxing by the pool because rest is a vital part of any exercise regime. Rest, including good sleep and healthy nutrition all go into making our holidays a special time where the wife and I can spend quality time together and recharge our batteries. Balance is the key word and it is important to find one’s own both in terms of life itself and training as part of life.

This is important because our life is not a set of separate components that we divide and organise spacially and temporally, but part of our personal whole, for me my training fits into and connects with family, work, my other hobbies, my social networks and relations, my cyber activities and my writing. We here much talk about the work/life balance being a problem for many people and I can see why with the multiple pressures of everyday life bearing down on people. The world’s troubles are huge and worrying and frighteningly multifaceted, I used to think I had answers, now I know I have none, only perceptions fashioned from my experiences. What I do think I know is the importance of creating a space in your life where you can invest in yourself using the concept of proper selfishness as outlined by Charles Handy in his book ‘The Hungry Spirit’. Proper selfishness is a paradox to quote Handy, “we only really find ourselves when we lose ourselves in something beyond ourselves”, and this for me is my martial arts training, its accompanying fitness training and my love of being active outdoors. What is it for you? It is not escapism, far from it, it is investing in some me time, and time spent making things work for me, for you.

So whilst it is still sunny outside I am off to spend some time working some bench presses on my patio followed by a nice walk up the valley, recharging the spirit and satiating its hunger.  So starting today it is the Mayfield Valley followed by the Austrian Alps then back to the valley to prepare for Krav Island, not a bad schedule, somebody has got to do it, might as well be me 😉 Take a little relaxation time and look at my summer playground and training camp.