My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Niggles

You feel a little niggle, just a little one. Should you ignore it? How long can you tell yourself it’s nothing before it will become too obvious to ignore?

The niggle doesn’t stop you from running, but it’s still there. Just a little niggle, just a little every day. You can’t quite call it pain, just an awareness that something is a bit off.

7am Sunday wake up calls, training done then coffee drunk and home by 11am to make a half-assed attempt at lunch. Throw all the running gear in the wash and start getting on to the life admin that comes way down the priorities list after running and eating and coffee.

A bit off. A wee niggle. Just a little niggle.

Then one day it’s not just a niggle any more. It’s 12pm, five hours since the alarm went off, forgotten and ignored. Just a little niggle got just a little bit bigger while you weren’t taking any notice. When you weren’t taking care, taking time to figure out just what that little niggle was.

Usually you’d be poaching eggs and making more coffee post-run, but today you couldn’t run at all. On a scale of one to ten, one being great and ten being not, you’ve somehow found yourself a seven.

A seven isn’t very good.

When did you so seamlessly slide right down two through six?

Curtains closed, cold coffee, cold toes, the routine has been disrupted and step one – go for a run – has been forgone with the rest of the day collapsing in around it.

Those exciting and ambitious plans you had for yourself, for the day, for the year, are getting further from your reach. That little niggle that you let get bigger might put a stop to all of it.

How bad is it out of ten? If it’s a seven should you still try to run?

Yes.

If it takes you 90 minutes to stand up properly, to get out of bed, pull on your shoes, and a hat to hide your face, should you run?

Yes.

If just two minutes in you stop running because you feel so bad that you cry, and you say out loud there is something wrong with me, this isn’t good, should you keep going?

Yes.

That little niggle, tugging at your shoulders, at the corners of your smile, turning it down, pulling it all down.

Despite that whisper telling you to stay in bed, sleep it off, rest some more, you know that if you try a little harder, push a little more, eventually you will start to feel good. Each minute you keep moving forward will shake out that dull ache, if you can last a little longer, breathe a little deeper, it will start to melt away.

Twenty minutes respite, air filling your lungs, shoulders unfurling from their hunch, even if it’s only temporary it gives you hope that the big niggle will go back to being a wee one.

Getting to know how you feel, what is normal, and what isn’t, will keep the niggle little. A feeling of awareness and not one of pain.

Slight but persistent, is what it is, and slight but persistent actions is how to keep it small.

 

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The original running buddy

Ten years ago (gulp) I was embarking on my final year of high school. I set clear goals for my exams during the year, and a few for ‘Where I see myself in ten years time’. The only one of the long term goals I remembered was ‘I want to have a dog’.

I do have a dog, her name is Ellie and she was my very first running companion.

Me and my main girl

Me and my main girl

When your human siblings turn you down, the family dog will never decline the opportunity for an adventure. Off down the dusty gravel lane we would go, past the wool shed with it’s exciting smorgasbord of poo smells, climbing over wooden gates, (or squeezing through wire fences) scattering sheep, re-capturing escaped lambs, rolling in fragrant dead ones, and running all the way out to the concrete bridge. Conveniently located at the bottom of a large hill, this bridge signified the halfway point and an opportunity for one of us to jump in the creek to then sprinkle the other with a cool refreshing mist.

When the urge to explore took over (or we thought we saw a possum) we would run past the bridge off the road and up a hill, along the tiny single tracks worn away by sheep plodding in single file, through matagouri and red tussocks and stop to take it in. Sitting there, tongues out and panting we’d take in the everything and the nothingness that is the Northern Southland landscape. I remember thinking ‘It’s just me here, wow’ as I looked across ploughed fields, and steep tussocked hill faces that stretch to the pinnacle of rocks; beyond the skyline would be another farm with more hills to explore. At that moment it was just Ellie and me; no traffic, no people, the only interruption an unenthusiastic solo ‘Baaaaah’ from an old ewe.

Nokomai Station 4WD Safari

(Photo taken from Nokomai Station- By Shellie Evans)

This is the moment when I think I started to love running. Although I didn’t run regularly again for another 6 years, that feeling is the same now as it was then.

Ellie is getting old now, and can’t run because of her arthritis. She got really sick six months ago and couldn’t go to the toilet, it was around the same time I had a stress fracture in my pelvis (from running). At the time the thought of losing the ability to run and losing my doggy friend was a bit overwhelming. When Mum txt me to say that the dog had finally taken a shit it was the best thing I had heard in months, she was going to be ok.

I have a few new running companions now. None of them chase possums (although they all have strong looking teeth, and could take one down if they wanted to), and I yell at them when they try to roll in rotting dead animals. All of them are just as enthusiastic as Ellie is to be outside running with friends. Having friends to run with is great, it keeps you motivated and it makes the time pass a lot quicker if you have someone to talk to on a long Sunday run.

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Look at all my friends!

This is how I found my running buddies

  • Stalk people on Twitter that talk about running. Meet them in a remote carpark in the dark at 7am and run for 90 minutes, instant friends!
  • Offer to walk someone’s dog. Every day. And for three hours on a Sunday. Make sure you feed the dog so it doesn’t get too skinny.
  • Join your local harriers club. If your favourite colour is yellow or the Lion is your spirit animal you can’t go past Scottish Harriers in Wellington.
  • Hitting people with a stick you found in the pine trees doesn’t motivate them to run. Try a softer approach. Like rotting fruit or small stones.
  • Talk to people at running events, like the girl who passed you going up that big  hill, offer to teach her some sort of skill while learning all her hill running secrets so you can beat her next time.

Who do you like to run with? Do they have nice teeth?


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Pa-le-NO

It’s been 28 hours since it happened. Since my partner decided to go Paleo.

It happened too fast for me to realise what was going on. One minute he was sitting down to our traditional Sunday roast – Hell Pizza and Powerade- the next he was slapping sandwiches out of my hands and yellingPete Evans is a GOD!’.

There’s only room for one restrictive diet in this household, and it’s mine. I’ve been vegan for over six years, I think we’ve firmly established that I hold the title as most awkward person at the restaurant, owner of the animal friendly eco friendly sustainable compostable ergonomic bamboo toothbrush, and shunner of bacon butties.

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Friends won with this salad, at least three.

I was ok with this whole diet change until it started to affect me. We were out for a walk, and he had taken my bag of vegan jelly beans out of the car. I thought he was going to eat them; which I was ok with because sharing is caring, and you need jellybeans when you’re running for a little bit of energy. But it was much, much worse than that. He THREW my jelly beans in to a rubbish bin. A PUBLIC rubbish bin (seven second rule does not count in there). WHAT THE HELL!? I would have gone in to retrieve them had there not been a suspiciously urine-coloured pillow in there too, I just had to walkrun away and remove myself from that horrible scenario.

‘Why did you throw away my jellybeans?!’

‘Why were you just eating cancer Amanda, CANCER. That’s the old us, the new us would never eat that.’

He says he’s doing it because he cares. I think he just wants to punish me. Retribution for five years of living as an omnivore with a vegan. He survived the 6am pre-run raw smoothie stage, he pulled through the raw-food-only month in the middle of a Wellington winter. He held his tongue through many a failed fettuccine and vegan-ised Italian dish, and he has stayed.

I’m hitting reverse now with ‘sharing is caring’, after five years of dairy-free dining I am not about to let someone else in on my CoYo (Coconut yoghurt) and my dairy-free ice cream stash. I saw him eyeing it in the freezer, with his cave man drool. I pelted him with sugar cubes until he retreated and left it alone. Now I’ll have to eat all my treats in one sitting or I may not get any, thanks Paleo.

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Oh wow, so many things we could eat together! Like parsnips!

I don’t think we could ever eat out at restaurants again with one of us Vegan and the other Paleo, the chefs would hate us. That being said, I would take great joy in taking the newbie Paleo to a vegan restaurant full of soy products and seeing him scan the menu before saying with a woeful downcast look, ‘I’ll just have the salad thanks’. Ha.

I think I could show a little more patience with the Paleo ‘thing’. I don’t think I realised how hard it can be when someone changes their diet, and how much you have to learn to accommodate them and their bloody irrational new eating habits. I am trying to put things in perspective by putting myself in his shoes, what if he was as unsupportive as I am with this diet change?

I ignored your dietary requirements and made a delightful fresh basil pasta for tea, oh well, if you’re hungry you’ll eat it!

I ignored your dietary requirements and made a delightful fresh basil piglet for tea, oh well, if you’re hungry you’ll eat it!

My strategy from here is to buy all of his favourite dairy laden foods for an entire week and try to drive out the Paleo demons with Holy Cow water. I’ve been pouring chocolate milkshakes and discarded single-use kitchen appliances on the front doorstep to mark our territory ‘No Palaeolithic things in here thanks’.

I would talk about being vegan and running a lot and my diet but I’m too sugar deprived to think right now, I just want my jellybeans back 😦

RIP

RIP xoxo


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The Bigger Picture

The Tarawera Ultra is just over a week away, and it seems ridiculous that right now I am mentally preparing more for not running this race than I am for running it, the thought of missing out is terrifying to me!

If you have seen me this week you may have been subject to a tantrum. Not being able to exercise makes me an irrational a-hole. I realise now that the world isn’t ending, nobody is going to die, and there are plenty of other races that I can enter this year if I can’t do this one. I’ve apologised to Ben for being a brat, to Hinano for saying I hoped that a Lion bit off her legs because she can run and I can’t, and I am making plans for how I can be a great support person on the sideline.

If you’re a good kid the week before Christmas, Santa will forget that you pushed the trampoline through the biggest window in the house trying to block out the sun and gave your brother his first black eye. Running should be the same right? I have been doing everything right for the past week and I feel like this means the past six months of never getting a massage, not stretching properly and completely overdoing it should be discounted.

I have been walking around with K- Tape racing stripes on my legs, missing long runs, eating heaps of cookies, and I even went to get acupuncture yesterday. I don’t really like needles but if it means I can do what I love then it is worth it.  When I mentioned to the acupuncturist that I am planning to run 60km across trails in ten days time, she gave me a Britney look.

You think it's a good idea to run 60km on that ankle?

You think it’s a good idea to run 60km on that ankle?

After reading Eat and Run, I have no reason to believe that I can’t run hundreds of kilometres with ribbons tied around my feet in place of shoes, with my only sustenance coming from chia seeds stuffed in to my eyelids. My mind believes that I can run for days and exist on dried apricots and peanut butter dinners. My body says otherwise. I get so exhausted from training that sometimes  I fall asleep on the floor after my run, or just cry like a baby because I’m overtired.

The ‘Harden up’ mentality is alive and well among trail runners, the acupuncturist would stick needles in her eyes if she read some of the conversations I have read.

‘I ran 210km on a torn calf’

‘You think that’s bad, I broke my arm during the Kepler when I tripped over a Takahe. Still finished.’

‘When I was running the Bedrock a boulder fell on me and I had to sever my arm with the jagged edge of a Gu Chomps packet. I kept running and got a course record.’

I may have embellished a little, but you get the point. All of this makes me think a little niggly achilles might as well be a paper cut. But you need to think about the bigger picture, is one race, on one day, out of the 365 days I could be running worth doing permanent damage to your body?

Is being among the best athletes in the world at the sport you love, running the same course as them, seeing all your running friends, making new ones, and drinking in the spectacular views across 60kms of bush really worth not being able to run/walk properly for a few weeks? I’m not sure yet!

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The Tarawera Course