Lemons Always Remind Me Of Zaid And The Ugly Duckling


Hi folks,

Picture of Zaid trying to work out what the hell I'm talking about. From: http://goo.gl/4V2VV

Picture of Zaid trying to work out what the hell I'm talking about.

The problem with changing jobs is that it separates you from old friends, as your lives don’t intersect so regularly anymore. I have one such friend in New Jersey, Zaid, who made my stay in Sanofi-Aventis so much more fun because of the questions he posed. Zaid is a thinker, and as a researcher I like to solve problems. Zaid would pose me puzzling biological questions all of the time, and I must have answered some to his satisfaction because he kept coming back for more.

FitOldDog spotted this lemon tree during an early morning run in Spain.

FitOldDog spotted this lemon tree during an early morning run in Spain.

One day I was visiting Zaid in his office, where he showed off his lemon tree. This tree was about 18 inches tall and comprised three short branches, but it sported about 20 large yellow lemons, exceeding the total mass of the tree, roots and all, by at least 10 fold. It was hard to believe that such a small plant could be so productive. The real surprise to me, however, is the fact that lemons grow on trees. I’m always surprised because I was raised in a country that is too cold to support such plants, England. As a bristolian kid I had no idea how lemons grew, which is also true of spaghetti causing me to fall completely for the 1957 British spoof about the ‘spaghetti harvest’ in Italy.

This movie, Hans Christian Anderson staring Danny Kaye, had the FitOldDog enthralled as a 14-year old boy.

Hans Christian Anderson, staring Danny Kaye, had 14-year oldFitOldDog enthralled.

At the age of 14, I biked across Bristol to see the latest Danny Kay movie, in which he sang the song about the ugly duckling that turned into a swan. It wasn’t a duckling at all, but a cygnet. I found this song really inspiring, as I had a very low sense of myself, who I considered ugly and unattractive to girls. Not a good strategy for attracting a mate! In those days the main feature was preceded by a short movie about the latest news (no TV for most of us back then), and this day appeared to be no exception, as they showed a ‘serious’ (hoax) film on the spaghetti harvest. At the age of 14, never having eaten or seen spaghetti (as far as I can remember), I fell completely for the story line. I had no basis upon which to question it – this is the danger of that old saying, “It ain’t what you don’t know that can hurt you, but what you know that aint so!”

I still miss Zaid, and I still, deep down inside, believe that spaghetti grows on trees, even though I’ve made it myself at home. Such old, and sometimes inappropriate, memories run very deep indeed! It took me until my early 50s to come to truly believe that I’m not an ugly duckling after all. When it comes to safe exercise for better health, or Ironman training for that matter, we call such inappropriate body-related memories guarding. We were injured, modified our movements to protect or attempt to protect the affected area, and after the injury was repaired we continued to use the modified biomechanics. Such behavior can be very damaging, in my case leading to severe knee pain as a neophyte triathlete in my late 40s as a result of guarding an injury sustained on a motor cycle at the age of eighteen. Feldenkrais finally fixed it for me.

So beware guarding when you exercise, it can make all the difference to your happiness and performance, just as continuing to believe that spaghetti grows on trees could lead to some embarrassing conversations. Remember the old Feldenkrais mantra, ‘Just because it feels right, doesn’t mean it is right (and the converse).’

-k @FitOldDog

Today’s workouts:

Two short (3 mile) runs, early in the morning, and a few pickups in the evening.



  1. Rory Conolly says

    How are 2 short 3-mile runs in the morning different from a 6-mile run?

    Did another 4 hr ride on Sunday, felt good.

    When are you coming home?

    • Be home Sunday.
      Short run morning and evening.
      Two short is TOTALLY different to one longer. And much more effective. Chris Hauth started me on this whilst training for my Boston qualifier in Charlotte back in 2008. It is really effective.
      Keep riding, I’ll be back soon.

  2. Wow, where did you find this clip.
    I remember it well. However, strangely, I saw through it at the time, had a chuckle and moved on.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.