Shifting Gears [3]

gear shift

Not The Comic Book Hero

As a young man, I had no understanding of stiffness after exercise. I had no idea of the pain that came with the arthritic joints of unsteady elderly folk.  This would never happen to me.

In the 1940s, I happily skinned my knees in South London streets devoid of motor cars. During the ‘50s, I was introduced to cricket and rugby, two sports I continued regularly to play until, aged forty-five, I moved to Newark on Trent and considered it a little late to join new clubs.

From thirty-five to forty-five, I undertook weight-training three times a week. Throughout my forties, I ran 25,000 miles on roads, including participating in eighteen marathons. Having covered nine miles to work with a knapsack on my back, I showered in my workplace, and then breakfasted in a nearby cafe. On the day I ran fifteen miles before completing a rugby training session, I felt smugly comfortable with the epithet ‘Superman’, bestowed somewhat facetiously, I’m sure, by a group of Social Work students.

I shrugged off sporting injuries, notably tying a broken finger to its neighbour with a bootlace before completing a match. That joint has never bent since, rendering picking up coins rather difficult.

As I entered my sixth decade, a recalcitrant calf muscle forced me to concede that my daily mileage would need to be walked, not run.

During a game of touch rugby at the end of Sam’s December 2007 stag day in the Margaret River wineries, a seventeen-stone friend of the prospective groom, forgetting the rules, tackled me to the ground. I leaped to my feet and tackled him back at the first opportunity. The father of the bride halted the game soon afterwards, saying that ‘someone’ would get hurt.

The best way to overcome the wall—the point in a marathon at which your body tells you that it cannot go on—is said to be to run through the pain until it subsides. When, towards the end of 2008, my left hip developed severe discomfort, I applied that belief. Sometimes I couldn’t sit down afterwards.

About three months after receiving a prosthetic joint in October 2009, I was back to an average of two hours a day of undulating perambulation.

When we began reclaiming our neglected garden in April last year, both Jackie and I spent about six hours a day throughout the summer engaged in heavy tree work, removing stumps, and shifting substantial rocks and concrete.

Abruptly, this March, I shuddered to a halt. My right knee was in such pain that when I visited the GP, I was offered a wheelchair, which I declined.  After some improvement, I can walk an occasional two miles and my gardening is somewhat restricted.  Were I to be tackled today, I would need helping to my feet.

Exercise is now required to reduce stiffness. It has happened to me.  I am not the comic book hero.

That is what I have learned in 2015.

© Derrick Knight, 2015.

Derrick blogs at


Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


40 thoughts on “Shifting Gears [3]

  1. That journey of the body over time– I wonder if superheros also suffer the wear and tear of life and their crime fighting jobs but that part just isn’t written about ;0. I enjoyed this post with its frankness and humor very much.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Derrick Knight! You’re supposed to be tending the garden in Newark on Trent!

    I found this post quite poignant. It lends even more depth to your blog, infusing certain recuring themes with a new significance for those of us who knew only of a joint/knee injury. The way you go for a walk, whether along a hedgerow, the top of a cliff, or just round the garden- how you always measure distance and keep track of routes and listen to your knee. It must be that runners hold a memory of running in their bodies as well as in their brains.
    At any rate, since being forced to proceed slowly, you’ve certainly paid close attention.

    Life needs more fans like you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Timi I love the shifting gear series and just wish I had the time to leave comments on each with some stretch from my experiences 🙂 But because am an exercise fan and near fanatic, am drawn to do some formal appreciation of Derrick’s kindness in sharing so with us all. Just this morning, as I skipped me some and pumped here and there, I thought to myself if I was still gonna be able to that 3 decades from now (well hopefully I get there alive). But seriously, I already feel my knee and all crying tired a bit too early. I skipped less today than last week, and frankly I shed some tears, but helas, I have to learn to take it easy right? Thanks once more

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Marie, I’m glad you’re enjoying the series.

      3 decades from now who knows? I think that in general if we’re sensible and listen to our bodies, barring injury and ill-health, we should be able to carry on albeit at a slower pace.

      I jog… my knees hurt sometimes… I stop, give it a rest and start again. But I’m thinking it’s an unsustainable choice for me and I’m exploring other exercise options. Skipping brings back lovely childhood memories… maybe I should skip 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hello Derrick,

    I enjoyed reading this, thank you so much for sharing.

    I respect the wisdom that comes as one advances in age, I suppose there is a seasonality in all aspects of life, even with our bodies. One will have to adjust to their new realities at each phase of life.

    When I think of old age, I imagine myself sitting in a really comfortable chair (not a rocking chair mind you) every day, reading all my favourite books. 🙂

    Best wishes.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. An excellent and interesting history, Derrick. I was rather fit in my younger days too. If I may quote a wonderful (now deceased) uncle after a hip operation: “The hip replacement is wonderful. I now have one joint in my body that doesn’t ache.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wonderfully told Derrick! I know so many men who had blown out their hips and knees in their forties because of hard playing in their youth. We are all aging and it is only the ignorance of youth that told us it could not happen here! I remember it well 🙂 I was a yoga teacher who has just today decided that if I can no longer do what I once could so easily, I can at least move gently with stretches and poses and bring some grace back into a body that wishes to feel just a little more light than it currently does…… And while I absolutely agree with Timi, that even as our bodies begin to fail we are reminded our spirits are ageless – I’m going in!

    Liked by 6 people

  7. I hear your pain, literally! I’ve never been athletic in that way, but I loved to dance and often expressed joy by dancing spontaneously. No longer unfortunately. And recently touring the South West of France on a walker on cobblestone streets was more humbling and challenging than I anticipated. But my mind and heart still dance.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. There’s a line in Desiderata that I love: “Take kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.”

    I agree with that sentiment . . . One Hundred Percent!
    That said, having the physical stamina of a twenty-something would rock! :mrgreen:

    Keep moving!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Of course, I like it too! XD
      Thanks Derrick for giving us a peek into your life.

      Your post reminds me of this quote by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez:
      “Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom.”

      You are a young soul, leaping and tackling the 17-stone friend of the groom. Thank goodness ‘no one’ got hurt. 🙂

      Sometimes I feel as though I’m in my twenties… it’s just that it’s easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. I’m no superwoman either. Can’t stay up all night and be fresh in the morning. I go to bed early even though people laugh at me.

      Thanks again.

      Liked by 4 people

The conversation never stops, please join . . .

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s