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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Down Snakes Up Ladders and Through Donut Holes

Amanda, if things go OK this week then we can get back on track. Kevin

My coach doesn’t say much, he doesn’t need to. Those few words blinking through my email last Sunday afternoon made me so happy. Eight weeks of careful rehab, physiotherapy, rest, and slowly building my mileage back up were worth it. Patience is the best cure for an injury, and I had nailed it.

What better way to celebrate that news than with a trail run up Makara Peak?

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How good is Makara!

I ran easy up the hill, and stopped at the peak to chat to the mountain bikers before choosing Zac’s Track for my descent. I took it slowly since the track was a bit overgrown, and was loving picking my way down through the loose rocks and rutted clay, splashing through the small streams left from last night’s rain.

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The view from Makara Peak, invisible about 60% of the time

Fifty minutes in to the run, and just five metres from the end of the trail my left ankle rolled on a small stone and went POP! ‘That’s new’ I thought, and came to a stop. ‘Drat!’ I said, and with a furrowed brow walked to the end of the trail, down the road, and back to my car at Karori park. Ah well, you win some you lose some.

That’s not actually what happened. As soon as I went over and felt a pop I could tell it was bad, bitch ankle had killed my vibe. I screamed ‘You FUCKER!’ in a throaty voice usually reserved for yelling at a wayward Huntaway that’s driving sheep the wrong way, and pulled up waiting for the pain to subside.

I limped down that hill sadly and slowly, reciting a rosary of unholy things and thinking about the track season that I would miss yet again. You absolute fucker.

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Slightly chubby left ankle

I already had a physio appointment about my pelvic injury so didn’t even need to call about my ankle, planned that one well. After being poked and prodded on that fat foot it was decided that the lack of pain and the floundering motion that my ankle exhibited pointed to me having completely lost the ATFL ligament.

Running is a lot like snakes and ladders, sometimes you have huge wins and make big gains and it’s great! You’re always reaching for your goal, but inevitably you’re going to land on a snake once and a while and have a setback. Running is unlike snakes and ladders in that you can’t easily cheat and wipe the board clear if you’re having a bad game.

My friend Steve, who has been running and coaching for years said to me this week;

‘Keep your eyes on the donut and not on the hole’

In other words think about all of the things that you have, and not the things you don’t. It can seem unfair that just when you get over one challenge, another one comes up.

If anyone can handle it though, it’s me. If anyone can take that in their stride, work through it, and still want to keep running, keep reaching for their goal, it’s me.

If anyone can stay quiet when the group chat is blowing up about a race next weekend and not *leave conversation*, it’s maybe me…

If anyone can not own a bike for 16 years then drop $1,100 on a bike that’s far too flash for what they need just because it’s shiny, that’s also me. Add in brand new kit, some shoes, all of those pumps and holders and lever-what-evers you need, my new years resolution to save more money has gone wherever the hell that ligament went. I have somehow absorbed them both into nothingness.

Nobody really needs ligaments in their ankle or lots of savings in their bank account.

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Side Bae

Meet me new bike! That I may or may not ride. I am posting a photo here so people know that I own it and when they see me not riding it they can buy it from me. Store that knowledge for later please.

Prior to this my cycling experience has mostly involved wineries. I have been for three bike rides with this bike so far. My bicycle tutor has been very patient but is using a lot of language that I am unfamiliar with and need to decipher.

‘Transfer your weight’ – Said as I hit a high curb at speed, I think I felt deep down what the issue was here.

‘Put it in an easier gear’ – The n00b has come to a complete stop trying to ride up a hill. But which button is the easy button? Does the big gear make it harder or easier? ‘USE LOGIC AMANDA!’

I’m not even going to talk about the M.C. Escher experience that was tyre changing, ‘Pull it back towards you then push it down.’ Which way is down?

Cycling is alright, like anything it’s a bit hard to begin with but I am sure once I get past the wind, the feeling of wearing a large padded taco on my taco, the lack of friends to ride with, and coming 1,797th on Strava segments I am sure it will become enjoyable.

If it doesn’t you might score a cheap bike.

 


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Getting to know your groin- Pelvic injury #2

I’ve managed to get another pelvic injury just in time for summer!  I’d like everyone to get to know my groin even more intimately because it might help you out if you have the misfortune of getting these symptoms too.

It’s because of my injuries that I know any words with more than four letters, and I’d like to teach you about the latest one I have added to my repertoire, osteitis pubis! These two words have made me even more intoxicated by the exuberance of my own verbosity than I was when I learned how to spell phlegm in 3rd form.

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Me and my pelvis in happier times at the Auckland Marathon with my friend Emma

It took a few weeks of odd symptoms before I was in any real pain with this injury. When your stomach hurts during a run you have to determine if it is discomfort from an impending poo, period pain, or (aghast!) a serious injury! My first symptom was that I had sore abdominal muscles to the point that it hurt me to laugh, a grave issue for one so hilarious.

My adductors were getting really tight after running, and no amount of stretching would loosen them off, my legs just wanted to snap closed. I blame my excessive chaffing during the Auckland Half Marathon on these tight adductors.82651-Goldmember-tight-meme-toight-l-CAuh.png

On a long run one Sunday my groin area started to really hurt. I stopped to stretch and started to palpate the area with my finger tips, assuring my friends that I was not taking a break to masturbate. I shuffled back home in pain and cut the run short, something was definitely not right.

I went to see my physiotherapist Fiona and once I told her my symptoms she confirmed what I may or may not have been googling before my appointment-

OSTEITIS PUBIS- an overuse injury characterised by tissue damage and inflammation to the pelvis at the site where the two pubic bones join, resulting in sharp pain right down the centre of your fajita. It is caused by repeated trauma, such as running 140km a week, however, it is not uncommon for a specific incident to trigger the symptoms.

Possible causes of Osteitis Pubis- (taken from reputable medical source)

  • Skipping your scheduled Brazillian wax for two months and having a larger than usual amount of pubies on your pubis
  • Repeated trauma to the Pelvis including running 396km in a month, roundhouse kicking people to the face, and vigorous mating
  • Wearing one old shoe that has done 900km on your left foot and a brand new shoe on your right foot, for a few months before you realise it’s a bad idea to buy identical shoes
  • Running in reverse and falling backwards over the top of a park bench, landing hard on your PELVIS resulting in trauma.
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Resulting bruises from park bench bashing

I have a suspicion that it was the park bench incident that caused this injury, and the above bruises that hung around for so long that I bought new socks to match with them.

To make sure I got lots of tips for a speedy recovery I went to see the podiatrist who said that I need to strengthen my glutes, specifically my right one.

‘So exactly how weak are they, how much will I need to strengthen them?’

‘For the left one, ideally around 400%’

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Four H U N D R E D? Not like four? Ya sure about that?

I’ve been managing my injury by doing the following:

Cutting out all speed work

Taking a rest day if I have any pain whatsoever

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Buying new running gear. GOLD running gear.

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Running on soft surfaces

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Running for fun instead of racing

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Binge drinking the night before a race so that the urge to regurgitate my drive-thru McChicken is greater than my urge to run fast

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Aquatic jogging

I really dislike aqua jogging. The only thing good about it is watching people flailing about in the slow lane. Don’t get me wrong, I would look just as bad trying to move through water. But I’m not, I’m watching other people suck at it, and I will enjoy frantically paddling and barely moving, supported by my bright blue foam belt, bobbing around upright and superior amongst the elderly. You also need to have sorted out your two months of skipped brazillians if you are going to be wearing swimming togs.

Because I have been running for a few years now, I know my body and I know when something is not right. I know the difference between pain and discomfort, and in this case that has saved me from potential months off running because I went to the physio as soon as I was in pain. I am managing this injury well, and plan to be running a little bit over the summer then back in to high intensity and higher mileage before my friend Hinano gets too fit and steals back all my Strava CR’s (So April at the very latest!).

Hip -Hip Hooray for Pelvis recovery!


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You’ll never be any good

The fun part of racing is the race. But what happens when you find yourself alone in the field? It stops being a race against the competition and becomes a battle with yourself.

It’s just a few minutes in to the event and you’ve slipped to a place in the field on your own, unable to keep up with anyone ahead as they speed away, racing hard with each other and leaving you in solitude.

Plodding away alone at the back, with nobody to chase and race, you start wondering what the point is, you wonder why you’re here, and that negative little voice starts to get louder and louder. This is pointless, what are you going to prove? You’re going to get lapped if you don’t hurry up!

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#ForeverAlone Photo by James Kuegler

I’ve had races that were physically tough, and mentally tough when I couldn’t hold the pace. But this one was a race that I almost talked myself out of finishing.

You don’t deserve to be here, you’re only here by default, because nobody else wanted to come. You’re embarrassing yourself, you’re not even close to being in the same league as these women, and you’ll never, ever be as good as them. This isn’t even a race for you! Tell me again, why are you here?

Why the fuck can’t you keep up? Because they have been running for longer than you. Because they train harder than you. Because they want it more than you. Because they have more talent. Because they are smart.

My loneliness was killing me

The loneliness of the solo race was killing me

Hey, you’re thinking like a loser, winners don’t have this attitude! Do you really think anyone else running or watching gives a shit about how fast you run? Do you think by not believing in yourself that you will get very far? Would that bad attitude have got you to the start line? For fucks sake, just get going. Don’t be a bitch, don’t think about pulling out. Leave your ego in the mud over there and keep running.

Keep moving your legs, keep pumping your arms, and think about why you’re here.

You’re here because you love running, because you love what it gives back to you. You’re here because you love the feeling of getting fitter and faster. You’re here because even though you knew you would be a lot slower than the ‘good’ runners, you still wanted to give it a go, to challenge yourself. You love the training, you love those free flowing hills, the ease at which you fly down the other side after grinding all the way up. You love that feeling, and that feeling didn’t come without a lot of hard work.

You’ve earned your right to be here, you’ve proved that you have potential. You should feel proud, you’re up against people that are a lot faster and stronger than you, and one day you might be running at their pace. Even if you aren’t going to pass anyone on course unless they pass out or break their leg, you’ve passed a lot of obstacles on your way to getting here. Tell yourself, you’re here because you love it.

I. Love. It. So. Much.

I. Love. It. So. Much.

Mindset in your training, and in your racing is important. It’s the difference between you having a good time or a bad time. It’s the difference between you failing and going home, or failing then getting back up again to do it tomorrow.

It helps to try and look at things from someone else’s perspective. I’ve never finished a race and thought, ‘Ha! Look at all those idiots running slower than I am, why did they bother to show up?’ Nobody thinks like that, but somehow you’re worried that they do!

When you’re having an rough patch in the middle of a race, a bit of positive self talk and a few encouraging words from friends can really turn things around. I’m always grateful for people who come to watch races, if you’re a spectator you’ve probably turned someone’s day around just by saying a few words.

Lap one Bye friends! Catch you later in the race!

Lap 1.5 Not fucking likely, buh bye.

Lap two Three laps to go. Not quite half way, just get to the end of the lap and you can pull out.

Lap three About 500m in the cheer squad of Wellington runners is on the strait and they are cheering for you. Come on Amanda, give us a grin! Are you laughing or crying? Go go go!

Crying. Definitely crying.

Crying. Definitely crying.

Lap four Paul is on the bend with his camera, click click click Great work Amanda!

Lap five The final lap. James is near the muddy straight, warming up for his own race, ‘Good job Amanda, push it ’till the end’

Your team mates are at the finish line ‘Nice one! I think we got a team medal!’

Your adoring family are waiting in the stands ‘We saw you do this massive snot rocket as you came past the grandstand. You’re disgusting. Great run.’

I wish I had something profound to write at this point but I don’t, so I will cheat by finishing with something somebody else wrote. After my race I got this email, I didn’t realise anyone knew how felt, thank you Paul Sharp.

Like you, I ran in the NZ XC champs yesterday. I watched the first 15 minutes of the Senior Women’s 10K and saw you complete two laps before we headed to the airport. Never easy, I thought, running solo in a race. But one man’s poison is another woman’s meat, and your My Romance with Running blog speaks of a human being and a runner with guts, resilience and spirit, and suggests that you simply just got on with it. You’re a star.


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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.


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You’re Crowning! I can see a head!

A week ago I was about to graduate from my ‘back to running’ program. I had been sticking to it for 95% of the time, for 90% of the program before I was placed at the start of the Blue Lake Trail in Tarawera, with a fly trail honey in a LuluLemon crop top and matching speed shorts.

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Bambi running through the forest

Sunshine, pungas, a crystal Blue Lake, runboners coming from all sides after watching a few hundred crazy people run an Ultra Marathon. The mood was set, the odds were stacked against me, and I cheated the program.

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A view of Green Lake from the Track around Blue Lake. You’d go there.

Running across the beech forest floor in my favourite yellow shorts, shoulders burning in the heat, sweat trickling over my lips and Hinano yelling ‘This is the banana I remember!’ as we circled the lake with fresh legs, floating feet and Colgate grins.

About ten minutes in to the glorious dream-sequence of a run I tripped on a rock/my runboner and landed almost exactly on the right side of my Pelvis. LOL. (Is Cry Out Loud a thing?) Very COL to land on the fractured side, good show.

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The tiny drips of blood don’t do justice to the pain, I swear.

On Sunday the 8th of February at 9.54am, covered in blood, crying, and blinking in the bright light, Amanda the runner was re-born. She arrived two weeks early but is healthy and gaining weight. A special thanks to Hinano Andrews Runwife for overseeing the rebirth and ensuring a smooth delivery.

Aside from a few scratches I didn’t have any pain after a steady hour on the trails, you could not wipe the smile off my face that day.

I had taken the recovery very, very slowly, and I think to finish the most boring running program in existence would have been a little pointless as things have well and truly healed. Hear that? The sound of justification, let it echo around the room and bounce off the piles of running shoes on the floor and the race numbers hanging from the wall.

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Squeeeeeeeee!

I am being really cautious in starting to train again, it would be easy to try pushing myself to go faster and longer but that will come back eventually. I have a new program to follow, and aside from actually STICKING TO IT AMANDA the key points are;

  • Increase mileage by only 10% per week
  • Don’t do any hard runs up or down hill. (As long as you don’t get a CR then it isn’t a hard run)
  • Listen to Kevin, Inge, and all the other people who know all the things
  • Keep up with the cross training (cycling, swimming, aqua jogging)
  • Buy new running gear because if I look fresh I will run fresh
  • Bitch out while I can. I do one KM repeat while my training group do five and I expect just as much if not more praise.
  • Spend my next pay on a new Garmin. Because cadence. And because if I get lost driving around Rotorua I probably need extra help with navigation.

Seven months ago my km repeats were around 3.33, now they are about 3.49. It’s not bad really, it’s the fact that you do them on a track where fifteen seconds looks like half a lap and by the time you finish your rep everyone else has had time to put on party hats and get stuck in to a chocolate cake.

 

I am a lot more aware of imperfections in my form, and have been spending a lot of time on flexing my guns in front of the mirror before I run them off in training hip flexors, they are so incredibly tight right now. Physio knows best, and I have been working hard on getting things functioning properly so that I don’t get injured that badly again.

I am back to where I was a little under 2 years ago in terms of total mileage per month, but a lot slower, and not running as far. I have done it before, so I have the experience and I know I can do it again.

After my third steady run I have managed to somehow spit into the inside of my sleeve so I can tell it’s going to be a lot of fun getting back in to training. The spit, the snot, the chafe, the blisters, the toenail fatalities. Running I have missed you!


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A Running blog by a non-runner

I’ve just passed the six month mark post-pelvis-phuck up!

I thought that when I went to Fiji in November that I would be running around the islands underneath palm trees at 5am before the sun got too hot. I thought that I would be building back up to doing a half marathon by February.

Like hell.

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Having a mope with my duty free puku by the pool in Denerau Fiji

Lately I have been asking myself why I am even bothering with the rehab to run again. What for? I can walk, I can swim, I can binge watch three seasons in a weekend of Sons of Anarchy, I can do so many other things, so why focus on trying to do that one thing that my body doesn’t want to let me do? I’ve been swimming so much that my back won’t zippity zip in to my dresses. I simply can’t reach across it’s vast expanse of rippling muscles to sunblock the entire thing, resulting in patchy burnt bits.

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#BigRippedBackProblems

The Podiatrist filmed me running in December so that he could see how everything was working post-injury. It feels a bit weird running, my knees get sore, and my vast muscular back has a big kink in it, but I just thought that was something to do with being unfit. Or perhaps since I’m all super buff now it’s just too much weights, not enough speed work?

I watched the video the podiatrist made, and to be putting it mildly I look like Quasimodo. He made me tuck my singlet in to my shorts for the film, just in case I had some swag left, he cleared it all right away. Everything is tilting at odd angles, and my style is completely different to when I could run. I can’t run! The Physiotherapist’s words from the day of diagnosis echo in my ears like the ghosts of Pelvis Past, ‘When you can run again, it will be like you have never run befoooorrreeeee. Neverrrrrrrrr’

I hate when other people are right, and you can specifically remember the words they used when you were scoffing at them for not being right. Good brain, remember that so you can rub it in.

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I know how both the Stallion and the Donkey feel

I think it takes an afternoon of whining and tears, followed by a stern lecture to get back on track sometimes and realise how far you have come in recovery. A friend reminded me of this; Successful people always deal with failure, that failure is a part of what is making them successful. The ability to deal with it, learn from it, and move on is why you succeed. You can play it safe, don’t take any risks, and you’ll never have to fear losing something.

But why would you want to do that? If you’re pushing your body to it’s physical and mental limits, you’re going to have to toe the line, and you’re going to cross it a few times before you figure out exactly where it is. And then, of course, the line will move.

My walkrun program has been progressing at donkey’s pace. Every third day I put on my running kit, lace up my shoes, strap on my Garmin and walk to the top of my street to a grass field. I walkrun laps of it according to the dreaded program. I feel ashamed to be walking and jogging in a continuous loop, I should be out around the Bays dodging balance bikes, overtaking people doing intervals, jumping over dog poo smears and yelling ‘SCUSE MEEE! as I stealthily run up behind elderly women on their lunch time power walks.

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The grassy field/prison where I complete my walkruns

Because I’m not going to be running a 90 minute half marathon any time soon, I’ve decided that six months off is enough to completely reset my relationship with running, and start fresh.

I’m going to hide my Tarawera T-shirt, my participation First female in my age grade with the initials ACB medals, my hydration pack (don’t need water for a 5km run kids!) and my heart rate monitor. I’m going to plead ignorance when someone asks me the difference between trail shoes, racing flats, road shoes and red bands. I’m going to run 9.87km with my Garmin and not understand why one should just run another 130 metres. I’ll stare blankly at people when they ask me what my PB is, ‘Oh it’s Fix and Fogg, I have half a jar of Pic’s Peanut Butter in my condiment cavalry too!’.

I can’t wait to ask the seasoned runners  ‘How far is a marathon?’ and my favourite, ‘How fast do you run?’

Hi, my name is Amanda. I’m new here! Any advice you have on how to run would be much appreciated.