Day 1 of my Fitness Training

I decided that since the days are whizzing by and I’ve been shocking at getting around to doing much exercise so far, I need to up the stakes.  So I’ve asked the kids at OPG to set me challenges and to hopefully to train together a little bit too, since they all have to do a physical activity for at least one hour a week for the Duke of Edinburgh International Award for Young People.  This puts me in a very vulnerable position, exposing myself to ridicule and criticism of just how unfit I really am, and also how lazy I have become since moving to Georgia some 16 months ago!!  So now, you really are going to see all the bad and flabby bits of me, in my quest to become fit again, and even fitter than I was in my prime.  I’m not one of those people blessed with a great body, with no illness or injuries, and even will power, so this is going to be a huge and personal challenge.  It won’t be an exciting blog, but this is more of a personal journey, for me to reflect on, hopefully to encourage others to pursue a healthier and fitter lifestyle, and to show that if I can get fit again, from nothing, then so can anyone.

I have no gym, trainer, money, kit, or anything, but I’m going to try and show that you don’t need all these things to get fit either.  I’m putting myself on the line here, as my two team mates for the Pacific Ocean row both have physiotherapists and personal trainers, and are already younger than me and training really hard.  This is not an excuse, this just means that I need to work twice as hard, and to make sure that we are all at the same basic level by the time we meet our Olympic coaches come summer.

So, I’m trying really hard to eat more healthy (also good for my budget), and to get my basic strength and flexibility much improved, so I can really start to train hard later on.  I have just about one year until the ocean row,  And I’m going to be writing to sports people to see whether they can donate trainers and mats and everything else to aid me in my quest.  But until that time, I have nothing, and I have to work with what I’ve got.

Home Grown

Last week I planted the seeds that I brought with me from the UK:

as well as the seeds that I had saved from things I’d bought to eat in Georgia, and then dried and stored the seeds from them since summer last year:

I also bought some soil from the market, which comes from a forest in Georgia, and which I hope is fairly sustainable and healthy.  It cost 50tetri per kilo, a bargain compared to the grow bags I have only ever seen at Good Will.  It even came with its own bugs and worms! And they put it into carrier bags that I had brought with me, and then carried 8 kilos home in my pack bag, though I don’t know whether I can count that as part of my training!

And now, less than a week on, I have been watering them every day, and am amazed at how quickly they have been growing.  Some are slower than others, as expected, but some seem to be growing like tryphids, each time I look away they seem to grow even bigger, and now I probably need to start transferring them so they have more room.  Going to be eating a lot of lettuce that is for sure!! But it will be really nice to be able to give some things to my neighbours, as they are always giving me things they picked up from the market, meat stock and so on.  So it will be great to do some of the giving for a change.

In this particular tray, it is the lettuce and brocoli which seems to be growing the best so far, but other things have popped up the past two days.  Am wondering whether I should move the position of the tray at all, and as the days get hotter I hope they don’t end up burning.  I’ve been watering them first thing in the morning, as the sun is quite strong by mid day and the temperatures have gone from about 2degrees to around 21degrees within the space of a few weeks, and it certainly feels a lot hotter than it was this time last year, but the winter was also colder than it was last year, so goodness knows what summer will be like!  I’m still growing them on the windowsill indoors for now, and I’d really like to know how to give them good nutrition without having to buy anything expensive or chemical.  For example, would it help if I gave them tea leaves or coffee granules??  And when should I start planting them out or into bigger trays?  I’m not one for reading up or being scientific about things, so the simpler the better.

In the other container, it is the lettuce, tomato (I’m growing three or four different types) and the courgettes which are growing best so far, and also one green bean which I saved from one I bought and started to grow last year.

Easter Weather

OK, now I know that Easter is definitely approaching.  Super hot weather, followed by sudden and incredible downpours of rain which flood the ground and then within a few hours disappear.  I remember this freaky weather from last year.  Walking home from school, in sweltering heat, then all of a sudden up to my knees in fast flowing water within a few minutes as it started to rain the biggest rain drops or hail stones that I have ever seen.  A few minutes ago, the first rain ‘shower’ of the season began along with thunder.  Usually it doesn’t rain at all in Tbilisi, but on the coast in Adjara it always rains, and is more sub tropical.  But in Tbilisi rain is only common over Easter. So its definitely a good job that I didn’t decide to plant everything outside this morning!!  Its also going to be tricky to know what to do after Easter as the temperature will rise to a really dry and dusty 40degrees over summer, and I want my plants to grow as best they can, to give me the best produce.

Today is the first day we had rain and thunder, and also the first day that I put my shorts on….coincidence??? Stuck a load of washing on, thinking it would dry in no time today!

Melinda Myers

I received a reply to my email about whether America’s Melinda Myers might help me in my quest to grow healthy food during my training for the row, and also whether she could come up with any suggestions for growing things on the boat, since I know most rowers grow cress and bean shoots as a way of keeping their protein levels up and balancing out their dehydrated food.  Since everything about our row is pioneering, I wanted to push us in terms of growing things to eat on the row too, and I’m super excited that Melinda has agreed to help, though I’m pretty sure her agent thought it was an April Fool’s joke at first!!  Sure there will be a future book in it too, how to grow veggies on the ocean!

I would love to be your virtual gardener for your tour.  Can you tell me what kind of space, any weight limitations or other concerns I need to consider when recommending plants.  Mint is a definite – tough plant that should keep producing.  Mine make it through cold Wisconsin winters in small containers.  I always tell gardeners the only place to grow mint is in a pot on a concrete patio.  Now I can add in the middle of the ocean.

Sunflowers, broccoli, radish and other sprouts quite tasty and nutritious.  Salt free water and a sprouting jar or container is what you will need.

I will keep pondering your challenge and let me know if containers are an option at all.

I’m trying to decide whether to include a regular gardening feature on the website, but am wondering how much work it might be, but equally it would be really exciting and interesting, and I hope to use it as a way to promote healthy eating and living, especially for those on tight budgets.  But I’ll be writing here regularly regardless, and in the meantime, you should definitely check out Melinda’s website.  She has written more than 20 books about gardening and her shows appear on more than 89 television channels!

I’m loving the idea of gardening during our ocean row, and I hope it will be a little tribute to my grandparents in some small way, as I’ve grown up helping my grandad in the garden with his vegetables, something he did with his own father, growing up in Yorkshire, and every summer my granny would concoct some delicious dishes using whatever vegetables her and my grandad had grown at home.  Not sure that I have inherited the green fingers, but I’ll sure try to do my best, and regardless of whether I succeed or not, gardening always makes me remember the happy moments with my grandad who sadly died from cancer on the 27th March some three years ago now if I remember rightly.  He was an incredible person and so kind, so gardening always makes me feel close to him now he is gone, and I think he would be proud to see me using some of his own creativity and quirky little ideas to try and grow plants on a 23foot boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!  My Grandad Stan, was a guy who built his own bicycle because that way you didn’t have to pay tax on it, he built a sidecar for his motorbike so that he could take my granny and their 4 children on day trips, and he pretty much invented the child carrying backback before it was ever available in any shop.  His shed was always full of different bits and bobs, salvaged from all over the place, just in case they might be needed one day.  And if you ever needed something fixing, he always had just the thing for it in his shed!  So I hope that this little crazy plan to grow food on the ocean, will help me to honour him in my own little way.

This Week’s Workout

I decided that I’ll pick one random ‘Bex Life’ video from You Tube each week and use that to add to my training.  This week I picked a 10minute fat burning one, which in no way felt like a ten minute workout, because it had ten exercises of one minute each, which you could then repeat if you wanted to.

It was actually above my current level of ability and I really struggled with it, mainly because I don’t have a mat or the right clothing, and I just couldn’t get a grip on the wooden floor.  But I’m going to write to loads of people this week to see if I can get a mat donated somehow, and maybe I’ll do it in bare feet next time, as not having a grip was the biggest issue.  The side plank was really hard, but I’m still up for giving it a go.  Here it is:

Laura’s Exercises

My team mate Laura from The Coxless Rowers also sent me a training sheet so I could build up basic strength and ability before we meet in June (hopefully and if funds allow).  I struggled with some of the exercises, again because of lack of equipment mainly, but I’m sure that Laura will make a video for me or we will do a skype session together.  Both Laura and Annabel are training really hard, and I don’t want to feel like I’m letting the team down, so I really have to make sure that I practice several times a day.

I’m quite embarrassed about making a video and being so public about it, but I think its going to be the best way to make progress and share it with the girls and to get their feedback, and also to show them that I am training regularly, as being in two different countries, could make it very easy to not be training right now, and then I’ll look like a right idiot come coaching time, especially with so many people supporting us either financially or in kind, and giving precious time to us.  So I really have to step up a gear now.  And I hope that the videos will also encourage others somehow.  Really need a better top for the next video though, a little too much cleavage for my liking!!!

Sunday is our skyping day too, so I know I have to be prepared to show my face now I’m getting my head around skype, and I also need to be prepared for any impromptu training sessions too! (not quite figured out how to insert videos from Vimeo yet, sorry about that).


Meditation Session

I did my first of the online meditation sessions today, and it was really hard, which was quite an eye opener for me, as I’ve never struggled to do meditation when I have tried it in the past.  It is supposed to be more 30minutes, but by 19 minutes I was bored and my mind was just trying to plan out my day.  Not helped by the neighbours practicing their drum play either I suspect.  But I just didn’t have the patience for it, and I think that is a real eye opener and indication of the rush I am constantly in at the moment.  It is basically just a vide with a monk talking, and if nothing else, I hope it will help me to sit still for half an hour a day and to become more flexible and able to sit on the floor and in comfort, something that will be vital on the ocean row.  Being able to zone out, is going to be a really important skill on the row, especially living with three other girls in a confined space, and rowing two hours, resting two hours, throughout the entire journey.  I’m hoping it will help me to get myself in a meditation state whilst rowing too, so that I can switch off from any aches and pains or negative thoughts I might be having.  Anyone can follow the course online, free of charge, and I hope that I will start to get better at taking time out as I progress:  the website is here: but the first video with the monk is here, and he basically just follows you through the process:

I still felt better for it, and a lot more rested, even though I did struggle to get past 19 minutes, and I’ll try it again later to see how I can find the best time of day to include it in my mental training for the row.

Needless to say, I’m feeling really great today, and so much more energised and healthy, even after just one training session and one meditation practice, so it is definitely worth it.  Now to do lots of work, skype with the girls, and if I get chance, I really want to make some Hot Cross Buns!


About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s