My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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If you don’t have anything nice to say

‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’

I know that what mum meant when she said this was to refrain from calling my brothers stupid dicks or poo heads (in public, say what you like on the farm), but the phrase has stuck with me like dried cow shit to a bike frame.

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No it’s fine. I’m fine. Really it’s fine. I meant this to happen.

Being a generally happy human, a ‘yes’ person, and doing nice things for people because that is what gives you joy, that’s all a bit hard when you aren’t feeling yourself.

It’s been a challenge the past ten months being injured on and off, on and off, and never quite getting back to training properly. I thought it was best not to write anything because, well, I didn’t have anything nice to say.

It has taken me months to realise that I do have nice things to say, I just need to change the way I think and focus on the positive. Some really nice things have happened to me in the past few weeks, here’s the first one.

Nice Thing #1 I joined a gym

I was struggling along with what I thought was a tight muscle in my hip, it was painful and I had been unable to run properly for two months. I got in touch with my old personal trainer Greig Rightford at Healthfit Collective gym and got him to look at my running form. Something was definitely a bit off. He told me to stop running immediately. I hated this idea. ‘It will be hard to stop but just don’t do it, it will be better for you in the long run.’

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Things to do when you aren’t running

When stopping running didn’t stop the hip pain I went back to my GP, and got referred to see a sports Doctor. When I finally got my referral and got the call from them, the next available appointment was two months away. T W O  M O N T H S !

I was at home crying about the hot pain in my hip, and thinking about how much I hate fit and able-bodied people when Greig emailed to see how I was.

Just thought I’d check in with you – how are you progressing? 

I was quick to say that I’m sick of trying to run, I give up. I’m done. Greig disagreed with that sentiment and got me to come back to the gym ‘I want to help you in any way I can.’ I’m pretty amazed at how nice people are to me, and this made my month.

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Rehabbing hard

In my second week of trying to get motivated to do early morning gym rehab I bumped in to Ruth Highet, the Doctor who helped me with my first stress fracture. When I told her about the wait to see the other Sports Doctor she said that was ridiculous.

Two hours later, sitting at my work desk I got a call from her office, and had an appointment for the next day at 9am. X-rays done, follow up appointment, MRI, all within two weeks. Everything sorted five weeks before I would have seen the first sports Doctor, incredible.

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Some things to stretch and poke your bits with

I feel incredibly lucky to know such generous people, and so grateful to have had help to get my injury diagnosed, my body healing, and my mind thinking more optimistically.

I’ve only said one nice thing, there are so many more and so many people who have gone above and beyond to help me out, I feel very humbled.

Right now I’m waiting to get the results back from my MRI, it is likely a stress fracture in the area around my hip socket, sacrum, or the top of my femur. If you guess correctly you win a prize!

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How to win a race- no running required!

What does it feel like to win?

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#Goals #vibes #bling #fleekydeeky #7Golds #ladiesplease

When I think back to the times I’ve been a winner, there are only a handful of things that come to mind and they are all a bit of a stretch.

  • Win #1  8 years old, The Westpac colouring competition at the bank in Te Anau. I won a model helicopter. Barbie did not fit in it, so the useless tiny helicopter stayed in its box.
  • Win #2  10 years old, 50m hurdles at Primary School athletics day.  The hurdles were made out of electric fencing tape and reels and set up in a paddock that judging by the freshness of the poo, had until that morning been occupied by sheep. The three other girls in the race tripped over and I came from behind to take the win. I got a lonely #1 pencilled on my orange paper athletics card next to all the #4’s.

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  • Win #3  13 years old, the scholarship exam for entry in to high school. I scored the highest marks and won money towards my school fees. As a congratulatory gift, my parents gave me a velcro Pooh Bear wallet. It was empty.
  • Win #4  25 years old, Trademe auction for an Eames style chair that I so desperately needed to throw dirty clothes on and use twice to stand on to change a lightbulb.

The theme emerging here is not one of sporting prowess, but gaining from the misfortune of others, using my brain, or using felt tip pens. What did winning feel like? Bewildering. Hilarious. Bitter-sweet. Embarassing.

Lewis Hamilton pezsgő Kína

This is what winning feels like. In. Your. Face.

All these wins prepared me for eventually winning a race, in one way or another. It’s not just training in running, it’s the training in winning that will get you over that line first, and this is why.

From the Trademe auction I learned that to win you must become irrational, and want to succeed at all costs. If you have ever been in a heated Trademe battle, right down to the line then you know what I mean. You’ve blown your budget, and that bitch kiwigirl_78, what does she think she needs this chair more than you? Reason has gone out the window and you keep clicking BID because you simply have to WIN. WINNING IS EVERYTHING. This is a competition, don’t give up, push hard right until the end! Then for another two minutes because the god damn auction has been auto-extended. GO DEEP! (Always have a little left in the bank just in case it comes down to that two minute sprint finish)

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I lost a chair once. Never again.

From athletics day in the paddock I learned that you need to make the most of people fucking up their race. See a stumble as an opportunity. Listen for the tell-tale heavy breathing that tells you your competitor has gone out too hard and isn’t in control. Pick off another placing as you fly by the person who wasn’t cautious on the downhill and sprained their ankle. Sucks to be them, fucking rocks to be you.

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From the colouring competition I learned that having colour coordination gets you points. If you can’t be the fastest, be the most fabulous. Kenny Souza was the world duathlon champion once in 1990 but because of his photogenic appearance, he was the most prominent athlete in the sport for years.

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Be like Kenny

From the scholarship exam I learned that if you win something once you set an expectation that you will win more. At 13 years old I gave not one shit in a paddock about the school fees that scholarship would pay, I wanted that money for all you can eat at Pizza Hut and a big pick and mix bag of lollies. Maybe a fresh polar fleece from Deka to go with my Canterbury pants? I didn’t want for much. After that one win my parents and my peers thought I was smart; I knew better of course. Proving my ability once meant that I had earned a reputation as a smartie at the party and it took the whole of fourth form to destroy this before I could make an intellectual comeback and earn praise again.

Did these wins ever translate to running?

I had never won a race before until this year when I surprised myself and won a few. Just small ones, but I still won. The feeling is better than the tiny helicopter, the empty wallet, the poo-covered friends and the useless expensive chair combined.

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I’d like to thank Kevin Ross, Rock Garden, Petone McDonalds, Holden for making the Astra.

Being at the front is really scary. There is nowhere to hide. I wonder who fucked up during the race that meant I ended up here at the front, I wonder if I somehow took a shortcut, I think if I’m winning then I’m working too hard and will look like a minger in the photos. How I feel when winning a race can be summed up in this one picture. 

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Have you ever won anything? What did it feel like to win the arm wrestle/ Pokémon battle/ Trademe auction/ flatmate of the week/ bingo/ meat pack in a raffle? (If you haven’t won anything don’t leave a comment, this blog is about winning. Losers can go find a loser blog and write tips on how to lose).


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Nervous shitters

Why do you get nervous before a big event? What is it that makes you feel so queazy that you need to do a number 2? 
My friend ‘that running girl’ Sophie and I were discussing how many nervous shits we were going to take before our race this Sunday. It’s the Christchurch half marathon, which will also be the New Zealand Championships.

Just talking about the race was making me nervous. To the point where I would fart each time the word Christchurch was even mentioned. Lord give me strength in unmentionable places on race day.

Nervous
 1. easily agitated or alarmed.”a sensitive, nervous person”

Synonyms: highly strung, easily frightened, easily agitated, anxious, edgy, tense, excitable, jumpy, skittish, brittle, neurotic, hysterical.

Nervous poo sounds better than skittish poo, jumpy poo or neurotic poo. Tense poo? I’ve had a few of those.

Holding back a turtle head before my relay lap

Apparently the nervous poo is a natural animal instinct (fight or flight). It comes from the fact that your body is making it’s primary task conserving energy so that you can flee and defend yourself against predators, like lions, or the sassy WHAC girls. This includes releasing bowel muscles and losing control.


“The overall effect of these changes is to sharpen all your senses and enable you to perform optimally in a life threatening situation. All your blood is diverted to your muscles, while non essential systems are shut down. The faster, deeper breathing brings more oxygen into the blood and this helps the muscles to work faster. OPENING OF THE BLADDER AND BOWELS REDUCES THE NEED FOR OTHER INTERNAL ACTIVITY, lessens your weight if you flee and may put off attackers. In case of flight, you’ll run faster, see better, hear more acutely.” (source)

So in short, we do a nervous poo because shit is about to go down.
When the racing flats have been laced up, the ponytail has been tightened and you’ve made pancakes in the porta loos it’s race time!

I don’t think it’s purely scientific reasons that tell us to take a tense turd. I think the nervous poo comes from giving a shit about something, it’s a good thing. It means you are anticipating something, you’re excited, and that something means a great deal to you. Going in to an event that you have trained your ass off for you have expectations, you expect that the training has paid off.


I told myself long ago that I would never shit myself during a race. UNLESS I was winning it. I know I won’t win this one, so that story might have to wait. The bonus of needing to shit during a race is that the poo is also a racing poo, flight mode makes you poo at top speed so you’ll only lose a minute tops taking a dump mid-run.

Now that I know why I feel the need to take a nervous poo before a big event, I feel pretty happy. Happy that my body knows that shit is about to go down, we gotta lose that Hells Pizza we ate on Friday night so we can get that half marathon PB! If you hear me saying thank you and patting my behind in the portaloo tomorrow this is why.

💩


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Tassie Trail Fest – The prequel

A real life conversation featuring myself and Chris Ord. In which I am the people’s champion whom you can liken to the young Jim Hawkins. Chris is Captain Jack Sparrow, people like him, but it’s like what is he up to? How much rum has he had today? What brand is that eyeliner?

Cap’n Ord Yarrr, if I could swing it to get ye to the Tassie Trail Fest – how long could ye take off? Let me know – if so I will secure ye a berth on a Barque – what the hell :)) (insert Pirate emoji)

Alackof Beard By thunder Cap’n, hail the Barque I can come! Yusss. Yarrrr. I better start training hard so I can do one of the races, likely the 22km. I like that there is also a 2km option in there. Yarrr.

CO Haha. Avast! Matey, you’re going to run the Multiday Madness, that ok?
AB Yo ho ho Sir, tis sounding good! (Agrees immediately before asking Squire Google what that is.)
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Cap’n Ord who is clearly a land lubber running the Derby trails

So what is the Multi Day Madness?
Saturday 8am 44km Marathon 
Sunday 8am 14km Fun Run
Sunday 11.30am (didn’t we just do Sunday?) 22km Half Marathon
Sunday 7.30pm (The week days have different names you idiot this is the third time) 14km Night run
Monday 8.30am 2km Dash for cash

Maths says that this is 96km over three days. 2,920m of ascent (15 times up Mt Victoria)
Science says I probably won’t die but could do a lot of damage to my body if I’m not careful.
Art says it would be a noble death and someone else would probably write a good story about how you managed to explode in to flames from getting a snake bite in the final 20 metres of the dash for cash.
Lets go and get it.
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The Good People Run Singlet for the Pirates who run good- 75 pieces of eight

I have had a pretty solid month of training, and have been focusing on taking more time to rest. In this time I have been reading Pirate novels, eating chocolate money (Treasure!) and doing more yoga and stretching. I know I can do the race well, but it’s a bit scary that it’s the first time the event has been run so I can’t look at past results to figure out what time I will do. I’m going in to this like Blind Pew.
My family and friends have been really supportive of my training to get to this point, I am amazed at how many people believe in me, and are happy for me. Looking at you Mum and Dad!
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What do you do when you’re nervous about a race? I stop sleeping, forget to eat, go to the toilet a lot which is weird because forgetting to eat doesn’t seem to effect outgoings and then I go and race a 5km because, you know, why not?
Tomorrow I have to get up at about 4am to get myself to the airport and begin the journey to Tasmania. I should be packing right now but I haven’t decided what I will wear yet so I’m putting it off until 3.45am, I feel like at that time I will know.
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It’s amazing how much Ice cream you can eat when you aren’t concentrating

 I’ll need at least five costume changes over the three days. I heard that Mac has a new lipstick out that stays on through anything, maybe I’ll get one for each race. I don’t think I have enough shoes for this weekend either, should I buy more? I should definitely buy more shoes.

Before I set off please take a look at how bloody amazing I look in the photo below, burn that in to your memories. This is the face and posture of someone who is making little effort. No matter what I do this weekend I will not be wearing that face for more than a few hours. I will be doing my best to hit the other end of the scale when running this weekend and putting in maximum effort.

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I’ll leave you with this quote from Treasure Island that really speaks to me, one I will carry with through all 96km this weekend;
Many’s a long night I’ve dreamed of cheese—toasted mostly. – Ben Gunn, Adventurer, reformed Pirate


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What’s on the menu?

I haven’t written a blog about what my training looks like, because I don’t think people really care. If you are in the business of caring, I’ve written down what I did last week, with links to each run so U CAN HAZ a look at what I subject myself to in the pursuit of running faster!

My coach Kevin sends me an email each Sunday afternoon so I can see what’s on the menu for that week. Last week was the first week of a six week build up to make me run faster later in summer. Apparently we will build up to quite a lot of distance in this time. I am interested to find out how much ‘a lot’ of distance is…

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This is what my training weeks typically look like

Monday – 10km run

Mondays are always an easy run. Easy is about 70% effort, so 5.04 pace per km. I try not to look at my watch on these runs as the pace doesn’t matter, as long as it feels easy then that’s fine. I can run during my work day so I did an easy flat 10km loop around the Bays in the afternoon.

Tuesday – 16km run, 60mins weights/gym

I do weights sometimes because I still think 22″ arms is a possibility. Also I don’t want to be completely weak in my upper body should I need to fight my way out of a wet paper bag, or carry the amount of food I need to eat in a day. I had spare time so I spent 40 minutes doing core exercises and rolling out and stretching my legs. I’m yet to meet anyone who does this as often as they ‘should’.

I went to The Waterfront 5km and put my upper body weight training to good use by holding a baby in a front pack while my friend ran the 5km. She was pushing a buggy with another human inside and ran under 23 minutes.

These are the type of crazies I hang out with.

These are the type of crazies I hang out with.

Today’s run was 16km at a slightly faster pace than ‘easy’ so 75% effort. To avoid the wind I ran up hills and along trails around Mount Victoria so I judged this on feel rather than pace because of the extra challenge of doing hills.

Wednesday – 24km run

I was dreading Wednesdays’ run. The weather in Wellington was typical, cold, windy and drizzling. I recruited my friend Dan to run with me, he seems to relish the opportunity for a long hard run in the rain. He’s weird. This run was prescribed as 24km at 80% effort so the pace we want to hit is 4 minutes 40 per km, or 12.8 km/h. It’s not that fast but if you add in a bit of wind, some rain, and the fact that it’s already 6pm and your dinner is so far away it makes it harder.

It was fine for the first 12km despite running in to a headwind, we were under the pace and it wasn’t too cold (I took off one of my two jackets!). The pace slowed down a bit when I put my jacket back on, and again when I had a gel. I don’t stop to change my clothes or to eat because I tend to just stop for ages and get cold and not want to start again. The last 4km of this run was pretty rough and full of expletives.

Some happy-go-fucky-ourself person had put a sign along Oriental Bay that said ‘Run More!’ a bit too cheerfully. Run MORE? You mean more than 24km? Run MORE in this rain? I booted the sign over as hard as I could and kept running. I think I must have offloaded at least one large coagulated takeaway soy flat white’s worth of boogers over 24km.

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Oh, Strava! Red line blue line map map map fap fap

I was pretty exhausted after this, and when I got home I faced the insurmountable task of making my bed as I had washed my sheets. Wrestling a duvet inside of a duvet cover is a nightmare at the best of times so I just sat on the floor in front of it in my exhausted sweaty state and I cried and blew bubbles out of my nose in to a tissue.

Linen is really upsetting

Linen is really upsetting (especially unfolded fitted sheets)

Thursday- 5km run 30 mins Yoga

Running related- I got a pedicure. You can’t just go around with haggard looking feet. It was a bit nerve wracking having someone poking around next to my nearly-there toenail on my right foot but it held on long enough to be painted a nice shade of green to match my Marmot jacket. Because  wearing a seam sealed jacket with bare feet is very Wellington.

I ran a 5km progressive run with my friend then we did 30 minutes of yoga at Les Mills Extreme to stretch out.

Friday- 7km Run

Fridays are always easy days; 70% effort for 30-40 minutes, maybe some yoga in the evening. This day I picked a really stupid route that had a lot of hills so it wasn’t a very relaxing run. At least I know where not to go next time. The best thing about this run was my shoes! I put springy new laces in these ASICS trail shoes that I’m Road Testing at the moment.

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Pew pew pew PINK PINK PINK

Saturday- 12X400m, 8km Run

Saturdays at 8am I do track. This is usually at Newtown Park with a group of people and we go for coffee afterwards. If I can’t make it to Newtown like this week, I run at Karori Park. It is the field of dreams and is full of little kids playing cricket now that we are in to summer.

Newtown Park. Field of awakeness and Monkey noises and coffee

Newtown Park. Field of awakeness and Monkey noises and coffee

The goal for this workout was to run 12 X 400m in 82 seconds, with 60 seconds rest between each rep. I didn’t hit that time once but my reps were fairly even! By the 5th one I wanted to stop, but each recovery you get you feel like you can do one more, just one more. Someone stole my top when I was running. Karori isn’t so fancy after all. I did an easy 40 minute run in the afternoon. Because that is what my program says to do!

Sunday- 25km Run

Sundays are always long run days. This is to build endurance, to look at scenery, and to get away from people for a couple of hours. This was supposed to be 32km at 5.04 pace but I had work on Sunday so it was quite late in the day before I could run and this was a good enough excuse for me to cut it short… 2 hours is still a decent run though right?

That is what I do most weeks unless I’m sick (self inflicted or otherwise). 

  • 107km
  • 0 blisters
  • 8 hours and 48 minutes of running
  • 8 sets of running gear to wash
  • 3 lazy dinners that consisted of Pizza
  • 2,068 metres climbed on the hills around Wellington
  • 2 emotional outbursts
  • 1 week down out of six!
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On the hard stuff

It has only just occurred to me, that running isn’t fun.

I don’t ever run with music, my head (or the space inside it) makes the music. If you see me out running this is what is going on…

Here are the lyrics for your reference:

Lalalalala lalalalaala lalalala lalalaa aaa lalalalaa lalaa lalalalalalaa lalalala lalalal laaaaaaaaa lalalalal a pam pam lalalaallaaaaaaaaa lalalalalalaa lalalalalaalalala lalalaal lalalalaa pam pam pam pam lala lalalala lalala laaaaaaaaaaaa lalalalal (x8)

Yesterday the run that my lovely coach set for me was 24km at 4.40pace, which shouldn’t be too hard, at least not at the beginning of the run.

Before I set out, I was like, uber-stressed about running wearing all-black because I had failed to plan my usual colour coordinated attire. What would Chandima think if he saw me out running in black on black with teal Nikes and no other teal! I changed my top to a teal Lululemon number (crisis averted!) and headed out the door, satisfied that I was aesthetically athletically ready to crush this longer tempo.

I knew it would be a HAAM of a run after the first 200metres. It felt like I hadn’t been stretching or rolling out my legs as often as I should recently since 2012. Let’s see how it goes, let’s just run at the pace for as long as you can and see how it goes. GO.

I went through a broad spectrum of emotions on this run, these are a few.

Misanthropy– Toot or ‘Awwww yeeauh gurl’ at me again and I will cut you. No I don’t have a knife, I’ll use the edge of my Snapper card. Can you not see I’m attempting to run away from you? Leave me be you lobotomised bottom feeders.

Self Loathing- Why is this hard for you? You’re just being pathetic. You run this fast all the time, why is it hard today? Probably because you haven’t brushed your hair in three days you bloody feral. You should just call it quits and go home and shave your head, it will solve so many problems.

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Numbness- Perhaps not an emotion so much as a physical feeling. What is happening to my right foot? Is my shoe on too tight? If I still can’t feel it after 12km I will stop. Surely that’s a problem you just run through? Planes can still fly with one functioning engine right so I can run with one functioning foot?

Loneliness/Neglect- My usual Wednesday buddies are on different training schedules (and are maybe just a wee bit too fast) so I had to suffer alone. I would rather run a few kms behind them alone, but just with the comfort of knowing they are there. (Single tear)

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Arousal- Wait, what is the opposite of this? I definitely had no runboner at any point on this run. I did admire my reflection in the window of a maroon Rav4 but it was to check my form rather than my sexiness. I’m already well aware of how sexy I am.

Amazement- Holy shit, I can feel my foot now! And I can’t feel the pain in my calves, shins, quads and hamstrings that plagued me for the first 15km. Lalalalala lalalalaala lalalala lalalaa…

Is this how it feels when people who hate running go for a run? Like a death march, like being slowly tortured by a domestic-ated abusing cat that intends to kill you eventually but wants to enjoy the process? I hated every step of the first 10km. I passed people I knew and managed to squeeze out two smiles which took so much effort that I think I dropped the pace off by ten seconds per km.

Feelings

Feelings

At the 12th kilometre I turned around. The sun was going down over behind Makara and the road winding back around the coast was golden and sunny. I told myself there were lots of great things happening on this run! Look at that sun Amanda, ain’t it grand! Big old firey hellish ball up there that is never quite puts out enough heat to account for how cancerous it is.

Every step hurt, and I was still holding the pace, I just didn’t want to! I promised myself that if I finished the run and hit the goal pace I could get a new pair of racing flats which was super motivating because I don’t need them and things I don’t need are much more exciting than the necessities.

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Room for another substratum of sports shoes methinks.

I have a clear understanding now of what people are feeling when they say that they hate running. If you push through these runs though you will be the little Spanish Flea tinkling around the Bays humming tunes to yourself and smiling. Just keep at it. Buy more shoes.

This is the hateful run if you want to see it.