Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Saving The World One Pedal At A Time

Dreams are funny things. When I was at school, I wasn't one of the kids who knew they wanted to be a doctor or mechanic. I didn't feel like anything I was good at had a particular career path or direction. When I went to university it was because I knew I needed to further my education in order to progress in whatever career, and to create some prospects. At the end of 4 years, I was still a bit stuck, until I started looking a bit harder at the forces. It was my only real *dream* or sense of purpose.

You might be aware that my partner is is ex-RAF and is currently with the 7 Rifles, a TA unit based in Mayfair and had previously intended to go regular with the Army after finishing his degree. Just before we were together and for the first 6 months of our relationship I trained hard for RAF selection, attended interviews, and started to take an interest in fitness that went beyond *just* passing selection.Long time lovers of Chloe Likes To Talk will know that despite scoring well on initial stages of selection, but I failed my medical spectacularly thanks to a weak muscle in my right eye. I had no idea how serious I was about my choice, but I realised the only career I'd ever thought might really suit me had been taken away from me, not because I didn't try hard enough or because I needed to come back having worked on something, but because of a defect I was probably born with, and can't fix.

Chloe no glasses child
Me, aged about 2, just before my eyesight problems were diagnosed. You can see one eye is not straight in this picture.

It's over 2 years since I had this particular knock, and I got over it, as you do. Some may find it odd or unbelievable but T's involvement in the forces has never been a source of hurt or difficulty, perhaps because the forces have been a part of his life long before I was a part of it. But my experience has changed me. My need to be fit for selection spurred me into running which after a fashion, I made myself enjoy, but I can't say I ever truly felt a passion for it. After my RAF rejection I fell out of love with fitness and exercise. But when I started working full time, especially in London where opportunity is so plentiful, I knew for my sanity as much my waistline I needed to find some exercise to suit me. I tried going back to running, and it didn't work but many of you have followed my adventures on 2 wheels in the last year.

Chloe younger fragile
A younger, more fragile me. This picture was taken not many weeks after my rejection letter.

I could spend the rest of this already quite long post extolling the virtues of cycling, I'm quite good at that, but instead I feel the need to tell you this:

Cliche or otherwise, exercise has changed my life. Not the overcoming of major illness or injury, not the sort of life changing that means I've changed my career or been able to raise money for others, but at 24 I'm fitter and stronger than I have ever been and even better than that I've finally reached a place in my head where I'm confident, I don't feel weighed down by self doubt but neither do I feel that I've reached a limit of things I might achieve. Fired up for life, without the fear or aggression I've typically put forward first.

Mostly cycling, but general fitness and exercise have brought this sense of 'peace' (for want of better wording) to my life and this is one of the many reasons I can't advocate it hard enough. I wish I could have gotten the idea of fitness and the enjoyment that can be derived from the necessary into my 13/14/15yo head, and I wish I knew how to advocate sports and exercise to young women in a way that would be appealing to them and that would impress the value.

If you're reading this feeling lacklustre about getting out there and running or cycling or swimming or boxing or lifting weights or playing hockey or ice skating, and you remember why you love it and what it gives you back, I feel I might have achieved something here. Failing that, I've put down on proverbial paper some thoughts that have been a rolling around my head for some time, and from it perhaps had some bright ideas. Ok, maybe not bright, but ideas.

Sportswear, Cycle Maps and Nike Free Trainers
Me. The best example of the current joy I find. Trainer chic.

No comments