Too Much Table Tennis?

Posted in Uncategorized, Parkinson's with tags , on January 27, 2023 by ayrshiretiger

A few weeks ago I posted about Matthew Syed’s assertion that the only way to be successful is to practice, practice and practice some more! But can you practice too much? Well it would apparently seem to be the case. Over the last week or so I’ve really struggled to play well in a couple of sessions. In one session I initially had some really good forehand coaching but followed this with some truly awful match practice. On reflection I probably worked too hard in the first half of the session resulting in a somewhat lethargic second half but it still blew my confidence a little. To be honest I’ve probably been overdoing it by playing up to six times a week, sometimes twice a day! So after some thought (and advice from my better half Elaina and table tennis coaches!) I’m going to rationalise my playing schedule particularly with regard to the days I’m doing double sessions.

In any case on Thursday we fly out to Lanzarote for a week of winter sunshine so that will force me to have an enforced rest from serious table tennis training…but I’ll still be packing my bat as I’m pretty sure the hotel has a table tennis table! 😉

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Why Do You Train?

Posted in Parkinson's with tags , on January 19, 2023 by ayrshiretiger

Recently in a discussion on a Parkinson’s Exercise Facebook page my friend Stuart made the following observation…“To understand motivation, ask yourself why do you train? If the answer is “to beat PD” then sooner or later I believe you will fail. You need a better reason to train: to run a faster 5km, to cycle 100km, to do an open water swim, whatever gets you excited. Then you will feel motivated to train despite PD, not because of PD.”

This got me thinking about the one and probably only time I trained properly when hillwalking. Generally I wasn’t that bothered about being fast on the hills, it was the enjoyment of being out in wild places, sometimes in challenging conditions that motivated me. But the challenge of traversing all ten Munros in the Mamores above Kinlochleven changed all that! Some serious training was needed to make sure we were successful.

Which brings me back to Stuart’s comments about needing a reason to train especially in the context of my obsession (some would say addiction!) with table tennis. Admittedly my initial reason for taking up table tennis was due to research showing that playing slowed down the symptoms of Parkinson’s. But as Stuart observed you really need a reason to train other than “to beat Parkinson’s”. For myself my main aim is to be able to compete (and hopefully occasionally win!) in both Parkinson’s specific and regular club tournaments. The latter is really important to me as while it’s great to be involved in the Parkinson’s table tennis community it is equally valuable to be able to compete against “normal” players. For me this has mainly been in the banded tournaments organised by North Ayrshire and Irvine Table Tennis Clubs where players compete in groups of similar ability.

Of course there are also the Parkinson’s events including the UK Championships in which I came third in 2022 (losing in the semi-finals to the aforementioned Stuart who went on to win it!). There are provisional plans for a Parkinson’s English Open this summer at the University of Birmingham – I’m just hoping the date doesn’t clash with holidays we’ve already booked! And then later in the year there will be the third ITTF Parkinson’s World Championships in Crete. All of which gives me more than enough motivation to train and practice! And if playing table tennis does in fact slow down the inevitable deterioration of Parkinson’s symptoms then that’s an added bonus!

Practice, practice and more practice!

Posted in Parkinson's, Uncategorized with tags , on January 8, 2023 by ayrshiretiger

I’ve been reading “Bounce” by former England table tennis number one Matthew Syed. In it Syed debunks many of the myths around sporting excellence particularly that some people are blessed with natural talent. Instead he argues that it is hard work and long hours of practice that leads to success. Which is all very well unless you have Parkinson’s! Because however much practice you do there is always the counter-balance of deteriorating symptoms off-setting any improvement. This of course means that Parkinson’s players have to practice that much harder to make sure they do in fact become better players.

Of course the main factor limiting improvement is the effect of Parkinson’s symptoms. As I have described previously my symptoms mainly affect my right side particularly the movement of my right arm and leg and a slight tremor in my right hand. Fortunately I am left handed so at face value it doesn’t affect my table tennis too much. However it’s surprising how much you do use your non-dominant arms and feet when playing table tennis especially for balance, playing forehand drives (something I really struggle with) and serving legally (ball needs to be held in your open palm and tossed straight up at least 6 inches – not as easy as it sounds even for non-Parkinson’s players!).

So practice it’s got to be! Fortunately in Ayrshire and the wider Glasgow area there are lots of opportunities (literally every day of the week!) for both Parkinson’s specific and regular club training sessions including:

Saturday 10am-12 South Ayrshire Parkinson’s Session, Mossblown Community Centre
Sunday 12-1.30pm North Ayrshire TTC Kids Session, St Matthew’s Academy, Saltcoats
Monday 7-9pm North Ayrshire TTC, St Matthew’s Academy, Saltcoats
Tuesday 12-2pm Drumchapel Parkinson’s Session, Drumchapel Sports Centre
Tuesday 7-9pm Irvine TTC, Portal Leisure Centre, Irvine
Wednesday 7-9pm Largs TTC, National Sports Training Centre, Largs
Thursday 11am-1pm Argyle Community Centre, Saltcoats
Thursday 7-9pm South Ayrshire TTC, Mossblown Community Centre
Friday 1-3pm North Ayrshire TTC Over 50s Session, St Peter’s Church, Ardrossan
Friday 7-9pm, West Kilbride TTC, West Kilbride Community Centre

Most of the above have a small charge to cover hall hire etc and you should check with the organiser that sessions are on.

I have to admit the idea of joining a table tennis club would not have crossed my mind prior to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s but as the saying goes every cloud has a silver lining. It’s a sport anyone can play and I would encourage anyone of whatever age to have a go!

An Update

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2023 by ayrshiretiger

As promised a new post…

I guess I should provide an update given my last post was in 2014! Well things have changed somewhat since then, and I don’t just mean the consequences of Brexit, Covid etc! In October 2018 after a year of appointments and tests I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Most people associate Parkinson’s with tremors/shaking but there are actually a multitude of symptoms. For myself it was initially a lack of movement in my right arm and leg. It was actually on holiday in Crete in September 2017 that I noticed that my right arm wasn’t swinging as I walked along the promenade at Rethymino. This led me to go and see my GP who referred me to Neurology and eventual diagnosis a year later. Even now while I do have a slight tremor in my right hand the main issue is a lack of mobility on my right side. The saving grace is that I am left handed/footed so the impact is less than it might have been especially when playing table tennis – but more of that later!

As you can imagine the diagnosis was a bit of a shock and it took me a few months to get my head around the implications for the future. But slowly but surely I realised that there was life beyond diagnosis. I carried on working albeit with some flexibility on working hours to help with the inevitable symptoms of Parkinson’s. Then after a couple of years an opportunity arose to take voluntary early retirement. After a lot of thought and consideration of the financial implications I decided to make the most of life before my symptoms inevitably worsen and retired at the end of March 2022.

As those who followed the blog previously will know my great passions are hillwalking and supporting the mighty Tigers (for the uninitiated that’s Hull City!). While I still get out on the hills I do now choose my routes carefully as I am nowhere near as quick as I used to be! Having said that Elaina and I walked the 96 mile West Highland Way in April 2022 as a post retirement holiday! It was admittedly a tough but rewarding week but proved that there is life after Parkinson’s! To be honest over the rest of the summer we haven’t done many big hills but have had holidays to Moidart, the Isle of Mull and Alcudia where we did some fantastic low level and coastal walking.

As for the Tigers there have been a few ups and downs since the heady Premier League years but I still follow them mostly from afar but occasionally in person when back visiting the “Shire”!

And so to table tennis. Exercise has been shown to slow down the symptoms of Parkinson’s. And in particular table tennis is the perfect sport with its emphasis on quick reactions and hand to eye coordination. Having seen the research I got in touch with North Ayrshire Table Tennis Club to see what opportunities were available locally. Having last played forty years ago as a teenager for the Air Training Cadets 298 (Hornsea) Squadron I was somewhat apprehensive about whether I would be good enough but I soon got back into it despite my obvious limitations due to Parkinson’s. I then found out that Parkinson’s specific sessions were being run by South Ayrshire Table Tennis Club at Mossblown Community Centre. This led to competing in the Parkinson’s UK Championship at Drumchapel Table Tennis Club and winning a bronze medal! I’ve also competed in regular (non-Parkinson’s) club tournaments. It’s difficult to tell how much benefit table tennis has on slowing down the symptoms as you don’t know what you’d be like if you didn’t play (much like not knowing what your symptoms would be like if you didn’t take traditional medication) but I have no doubt that playing regularly (sometimes 4 or 5 times a week!) has helped enormously.

So that’s were we are, still hillwalking, still following the mighty Tigers but now completely addicted to the buzz of playing table tennis! As for this blog I’ll hopefully get back into posting more regularly again with a focus on living positively with Parkinson’s.

Finally a bit of advice…make the most of life folks…you really don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

It’s been a while…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2023 by ayrshiretiger

…since I posted so I figured it’s time to start blogging again but rather than the focus being on hillwalking (although there might be the occasional bimble!)) it will be on living with Parkinson’s and in particular my new passion for table tennis. More soon…

A Long Walk in the Mamores

Posted in Kinlochleven, Mamores, Munros on June 10, 2014 by ayrshiretiger

Several months ago I made a passing comment at an Air Na Creagan Mountaineering Club (http://www.craggy.org.uk) club night about how I had always fancied doing the entire Mamore ridge. It seemed like such a good idea at the time but less so when we were struggling up the final two Munros, Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean in the torrential rain! But back to the beginning…

Surprisingly I wasn’t the only club member to have a long held ambition of doing all ten Munros on the ridge. Kathryn also expressed an interest and in the end another four, Kenny, Stuart, Gael and John, made up the team. A support team of Elaina, Irene and Eleanor also volunteered to assist with providing additional liquid…but more of that later!

Most of the few routes I could find on-line were of people doing the ridge from Glen Nevis. However we decided to go for a Kinlochleven start and finish mainly because the thought of having to drive back to wherever our accommodation was at the end of a long day didn’t appeal. We also knew that we could find a good range of accommodation in Kinlochleven including Bob and Chris’s bed and breakfast (http://www.kinlochlevenbedandbreakfast.com/) and the MacDonald Hotel cabins (http://www.macdonaldhotel.co.uk/campsitecabins/).

The next decision was whether to go for an east – west or west – east crossing. Normally it would be best to walk in an easterly direction with the prevailing westerly wind behind you but the thought of having to do the two outlying Munros, Sgurr Elde Mor and Beinein Beag, at the end of such a long day made us opt for the east to west option. In the event this turned out to be a stroke of good fortune as we had a south easterly wind behind us for the entire ridge.

I’ve done all the Mamores before but had never descended from the most westerly Munro, Mullach nan Coirean to the West Highland Way. We decided it would be good to do a practice run to see what the terrain was like. So a few weeks ago we did the circuit of Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean and were pleasantly surprised that the descent was very easy down grassy slopes. It was still a long walk back to Kinlochleven along the West Highland Way though, something we would have to relive again on the day of the full attempt.

So the weekend finally arrived. Fitness regimes complete. Accommodation booked. Plans made with the MacDonald Hotel for late food when we got back. We’d also signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Commonwealth Munro Flagging project (http://flagamunro.blogspot.co.uk/). We also created a schedule of provisional timings for the 23 mile route with almost 11,000 feet of ascent…Naismith’s Rule says 12 hours 48 minutes…Craggy’s Rule suggested around 16 hours 15 minutes might be more realistic!

The weather forecast in the days leading up to the weekend had indicated that low pressure sitting out to the west would drag warm air up from the continent leading to heavy rain and thunderstorms in northern England and southern Scotland. We were just hoping that the northern extent would be south of Lochaber or at least arrive late in the day.

A 4.30am start from the car park at Grid Reference NN188623 was planned but we set off ten minutes later and made excellent progress to reach the summit of Sgurr Eilde Mor at 7am well ahead of schedule. We had originally intended to both ascend and descend by the westerly ridge but in the end took the relatively easy southwesterly slope up. We descended as planned and picked up the good path round to the lochan at the foot of Binnein Beag. A relatively easy up and down then saw us heading for the northern ridge of Binnein Mor. Now this is where it became interesting…

An early start

Descending Binnein Beag

In the past Kathryn and myself have descended this ridge from a path that descends from about half way along and it seemed a reasonable idea to simply do it in reverse. From a distance it looked like nice easy grassy slopes but as we got nearer we realised that there was a scattering of avalanche debris littering the slopes and any grass that had been there had been swept away sometime over the winter. At this point I was acutely away that my decision to wear my trusted, but well worn, Keen boots was potentially not the best one I had ever made but managed to get enough traction to get up on to the ridge proper!

Looking towards Binnein Mor

Still making good progress we made it to the airy summit of Munro number three, Binnein Mor. From there we headed over to the double summits of Na Gruagaichean including the increasingly eroded descent between the two. We then ascended the southeasterly slopes of Stob Choire a’ Chairn before heading north along the by-pass path towards Munro number four, An Gearanach, including a short but steep snow patch that Kenny, Stuart, Gael and John negotiated. Kathryn and I, with the recent memory of the Binnein Mor slopes still fresh in our minds, avoided it! From there we left our rucksacks and negotiated the return trip along the scrambly ridge before ascending Stob Coire a’ Chairn, Munro number five. By this time we had lost some of the time gained on the earlier Munros but were more or less on schedule.

Number 5 An Gearanach

It was here that we had arranged to meet the “support” team of Elaina, Irene and Eleanor. However their plans for a start at Mamore Lodge, thus saving a good 200m of ascent were thwarted by a locked gate at the bottom of the access road. They were therefore running a bit later than scheduled and there was no sign of them. In the distance about half way along the ridge towards Am Bodach we could see a group of people sitting waiting and it looked like it could be our missing support crew. However as we approached them it turned out to be a group who had been wild camping the night before having a well earned rest. Looking back to Stob Choire a Chairn we could see three figures silhouetted against the ridge and realised we had finished up in front of our now “non support” team! Irene had joked earlier about having a support team to support the support team – it didn’t seem like such a daft idea after all now!

On and on

We had various attempts at communication but not wanting to get behind schedule we made the decision to carry on. It was a steep climb up on to Am Bodach, Munro number seven and from there on to the now demoted Sgurr an Iubhair. It was still dry although storm clouds were gathering from the south. As on An Gearanach we decided to leave the rucksacks before crossing the Devil’s Ridge to Sgurr a’ Mhaim. One of my hopes at the beginning of the day was that the forecast rain would hold off until we had at least made the double crossing of the ridge. We almost managed it but the inevitable happened about two thirds of the way back so we hastily retrieved our rucksacks and donned waterproof jackets before carrying on towards Stob Ban, Munro number nine.

I think we were all really feeling tired by this time and the rain certainly didn’t help. But at least it was at our back so we plodded on only stopping at Stob Ban for a very quick photo for Munro Flagging purposes! From there we just had to follow the ridge round to the tenth and final Munro, Mullach nan Coirean. Even though we had done this end of the ridge just a few weeks earlier I don’t think any of us appreciated just how long that 3km stretch would feel after such a long day! But we got there just as the clouds totally dropped to give no views at all for the first time all day. Being tired and not wanting to make a simple navigational error (been there, done that before in the Mamores!) we checked the compass and headed southeast then south down to the West Highland Way for the long 6km walk back to Kinlochleven. There is a stream at that runs alongside the West Highland Way which I managed to safely negotiate but then had spectacular slip into a very wet bog just as I tried to reach the landrover track! Thankfully it was just wet and not muddy, to be honest I don’t think I would have been much wetter had I fell in a river!

Number 10 Mullach nan Coirean

Of course the wind was in our faces now but we didn’t really care. We’d done what we had set off to achieve and it was much relief that we staggered in to the MacDonald Hotel at 9.45pm, 17 hours and 5 minutes after setting off for well earned beers and lasagne. Many thanks to everyone for making it such a fantastic day especially:

Kathryn – for foolishly admitting that she had always wanted to do the entire ridge as well!

Kenny, Gael, Stuart and John – for joining us on this mad epic journey

Elaina, Irene and Eleanor – the support team for providing the bubbly at the end (I’m not sure this was quite what we had in mind when we asked them to bring us extra liquid!)

Gail, Gillian, Susan, Debbie and Tracy – for joining us for the weekend
The Real Food Café – for excellent en-route lunches and cake

The MacDonald Hotel in Kinlochleven for agreeing to feed six knackered hillwalkers with lasagne and chips well after the usual time you would expect to be fed in a Scottish hotel! The owners only took over the hotel in the new year and we wish them well for the future.

And of course Bob and Chris for providing their usual excellent hospitality and breakfasts. A fantastic place to stay for anyone doing the West Highland Way or like us having a wander around the Mamores.

Celebratory bubbly

MacDonald Hotel Photo

Coniston Capers!

Posted in Lakes on March 4, 2013 by ayrshiretiger

I know it’s been a long time (again!) since I posted on the blog.  Same for Elaina but at least she’s put this up…

http://www.bletheringblonde.com/2013/03/coniston-fells.html

I will make an effort to post more regularly, honest!

A Blustery Weekend in the Lakes

Posted in Lakes, outdoorsmagic.com with tags , on January 23, 2012 by ayrshiretiger

We headed south on Friday for a weekend in the Lakes with friends from http://www.outdoorsmagic.com. Accommodation for the weekend was in the excellent Bury Outdoor Pursuits Centre near Glenridding.

A good night was had on Friday evening with a variety of Tesco Curries. There may also have been the odd bottle of beer consumed also!

The forecast for the weekend wasn’t too bad, a few wintry showers and a bit breezy. Elaina is still building up her hill fitness so we decided to do a relatively easy day doing Catstye Cam next to Helvellyn. However it turned out to be a bit more challenging than anticipated. The walk up towards Red Tarn was easy enough but as we headed up the east ridge of Catsty Cam the wind started to pick up. By the time we got to the summit we were literally on all fours crawling. I’ve been in some pretty windy conditions but the difference this time was the sheer strength of the gusts interspersed with lulls. We had planned to head off the north ridge but quickly decided to head southwest to the bottom of Swirral Edge and down to Red Tarn. From there we had a leisurely walk back to the bunkhouse. Thankfully the only casualties were two lost hats! Later that evening we found out that a woman had been airlifted from near Coniston.

As we were back a lot earlier than planned we headed to Ambleside for a well earned hot chocolate and cheesecake. An entertaining evening again followed with excellent home made lasagne and rice pudding.

An absolutely cracking weekend, looking forward to meeting up with the same folk at Black Sail in March!

I didn’t take many photos so here’s some taken by Maria and Robin.

Off to the Lakes…

Posted in Hull City, Lakes, outdoorsmagic.com with tags , , on January 20, 2012 by ayrshiretiger

OK, I know I’ve not really kept up my New Year resolution to post more often despite good intentions on the first two days! However this weekend we are heading to the Lakes to meet up with friends from outdoorsmagic.com so will hopefully have adventures to report on when we return!

In the meantime hopefully the Tigers can get a result at fellow play-off contenders Reading. Hesitate to say it but we might just have an outside chance of going back up to the Premiership…

No snow but plenty of sand!

Posted in Ardeer, Ayrshire, Holderness, Stevenston with tags , , , on January 2, 2012 by ayrshiretiger

Another windy day but not too wet so we decided to go for a wander along Ardeer beach below the former Nobel Explosives site between Stevenston and Irvine.

We parked the car at Stevenston (NS270401) and set off south-east with the breeze behind us. It wasn’t long until we came across an image of Rabbie Burns on the sea defences along with accompanying grafitti!

Rabbie Burns

Rabbie Burns

A little further along I thought for a minute that I’d been transported back to Holderness and its eroding coastline. I suspect, dramatic as it looks, the Ayrshire coast will take a bit more of a battering before it disintegrates as quickly as the East Riding boulder clay!

Eroding Ayrshire Coastline

Eroding Ayrshire Coastline

Eventually we reached the River Garnock as it enters the Clyde at Irvine with the now closed bridge to the now defunct “Big Idea” aka the Tellytubby House!

River Garnock at Irvine

River Garnock at Irvine

Laa-Laa says "Eh Oh"!

Laa-Laa says "Eh Oh"!

Elaina then did an impression of Laa-Laa before we headed back across sand dunes before dropping back down to the beach for the long walk back to Stevenston. There may have been lots of snow up north but as the following photos show at least we were able to have a bit of a slide in the sand!

Going...

Going...

...going...

...going...

...gone!

...gone!

We finally got back to the car just as it was getting dark and before the tide came in! Another cracking wander and one we will need to do again with Craig!