My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Throwing a pity party, and cleaning up afterwards

I’ve thought a lot while running, about how much I love to do it, how rewarding it is, and how when you dedicate yourself to something so fully, how great the rewards are that you get in return. I’ve thought about how it’s helped me through depression, and changed me from that person who would hide in her room all day, to someone who runs outside in a crop top and posts pictures of her crotch on the internet. I’m so grateful for the ability to run, and I was so caught up in it that I never thought about what would happen when it was gone.

On Friday two weeks ago I went along to the physio. I’d had the X-rays, I’d sat through a vey lubey ultrasound in a variety of awkward positions, and every possibility of injury had been eliminated except for one thing, which was the only thing that it could be. It wasn’t the best news, but it wasn’t the worst

‘You have a stress fracture, most likely in your pubic rami. Mentally prepare yourself for not being able to run for the next six months.’

I picked this picture because the red makes it looks really sore.

I picked this picture because the red makes it looks really sore.

After delivering the news the Physiotherapist then did some release work on my right quad with needles. I feebly pretended my tears were because of the needling and electric pulses making my leg convulse, but it wasn’t. I was pretty devastated. The Physio handed me some racy yellow crutches with instructions not to put any weight on my right leg and off I hobbled.

People like to remind you that there are other things that suck more than not being able to run for six months, ‘It’s not like you have cancer’, ‘You can still wipe your own ass’, or ‘At least your birthday isn’t on Christmas Day and people only ever give you one present’. These are people that don’t run, who see running as evil, to be avoided, and who have never felt the joy of a bag of jelly beans melting through the pocket of their tights, or the wind blowing their spit in to their ear.

To the runners, you might as well have lost the entire leg. They offer their condolences, they know exactly how hard you worked to get your running to that level, and they know that feeling you chase that you’ll now miss out on until your body agrees that you can run again.

Technical stuff

To properly diagnose a stress fracture you need to get an MRI, as it won’t show on an X-ray until the bone starts to heal. Two weeks of yoga, spin class, Pump, and walking a few kilometres each day meant that my stress fracture was definitely NOT starting to heal. To get an MRI, you must see a physician (you can’t be referred to get one from a physio or GP). I went to see Ruth Highet, a well known Sports Physician in Wellington. I took an instant liking to her when one of the first questions she asked was ‘ What’s your PB for a 10km?’ None of this ‘Why do you run so much?’ nonsense, this was someone who I could relate to.

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See the white part on the upper left corner, that is the stress fracture

Ruth showed me my bones on the screen and said that if I had gone for one more run I would have completely fractured the bone, so I guess I am pretty lucky in that respect.

How does one get a stress fracture in the pelvis? There are many reasons, there may have been 120 reasons why I got one, here are a few contributing factors and I am sure all of these helped me to get my stress fracture.

  • Your running shoes aren’t right
  • Running style is not perfect
  • Your headband didn’t match your shorts
  • Too much pelvic thrusting. Wink. Cough. Elbow elbow.
  • Increasing your mileage too fast
  • You have a vagina (only females get these ones, lucky us!)
  • Poor or inadequate nutrition
  • Running 120kms a week

Ch ch ch ch changes

I have noticed changes in my body already, I FILL an A cup bra now! Badonk-a-donk. I have no visible abs any more, and my right leg is slowly shrinking and losing muscle definition with not being used. I’m beginning to look and feel squishy and lop-sided, like a pair of room temperature testicles.

I used to pride myself on munching down a giant bowl of porridge for breakfast, a foot long subway for lunch, then an entire pizza for dinner, and snacks, and pudding included. We went out for lunch on Saturday, and I had my first DNF in almost two years, I just couldn’t finish my fries. I felt so defeated, leaving that food there on the plate. Those perfect hand cut crispy potato fries with their spicy tomato sauce, lonely, and going cold, destined for the scrap bucket when they should be in mah belleh.

I have not dealt with my loss of mobility very well, and I feel really pathetic for it. Where did that strong person go? The one that could conquer mountains, the one that people told ‘You inspire me’, and why has she been replaced with this sad girl who cries and can’t finish her fries? It has been a challenge getting use to using crutches, and a few times I have thrown them away in frustration, only to have to crawl to get the dumb things back. I also get a little envious of people who can still workout, which is hard to avoid when you work inside a gym!

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I haven’t hit anyone with my crutches. Yet.

I think part of why I got so upset with being injured, is that I thought my happiness was directly tied to my running, and if I stopped, I would become depressed again. One day leaving the sports doctors I walked/ crutched out past a group of people playing basketball. They were all different shapes and sizes, some tall, some wide, some scrawny, and all giving each other absolute hell and having a damn good game, in their wheelchairs. Watching the little people in wheelchairs be sandwiched by the big ones and have the ball stolen from them, and seeing them keep playing with the same determination made me feel a whole lot better about my own situation, and I didn’t cry again after that.

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Yes, I did buy this dress to match the crutches.

What I can do now (2 weeks in to recovery)

  • Swim in the pool with a pool buoy only using my arms
  • Very isolated glute exercises
  • Side planks- my most hated exercise
  • Crunches on a bosu ball
  • Arms, every day. Arms.

What I am working towards

  • Cycling – in four weeks
  • Aqua jogging – four weeks
  • Losing the crutches – 2  weeks
  • Being completely healed! 11  weeks
  • 22″ arms
  • 3minute long side planks, oh hell yeah.

Happy recovery to me, happy recovery to me!

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Hurry up and rest!

Don’t have time to stretch?

Think yoga is a bore?

Cooling down is for losers, and rest days just mean your heart rate stays slightly below bulging forehead vein level?

Look after your body, or it will dump you. All those hours you left it out in the cold, those stretches you missed in favour of lying on the floor eating bananas, will catch up with you and you’ll find yourself in a lot of pain.

Last Monday I went out for my usual 10km run, and my groin hurt the whole time. I’m not great with anatomy, so I surmised that my pelvis/ hips/ womb were all under some sort of immense stress and I should stop running immediately and get straight on the Google to find out what was wrong.

I was convinced that this was going to be the last ever photograph taken of me running- Thanks Sharon Wray for the picture

I am convinced that this is going to be the last ever photograph taken of me running- Thanks Sharon Wray for the picture

As I researched ‘Pelvis pain’ a whole heap of related links popped up in my side bar with what were surely reputable and peer reviewed scientific articles such as ‘Ten signs you definitely have cancer’. My google diagnosis revealed a possible tendonitis, a groin strain, fractured pelvis, prolapsed uterus, arthritis, pregnancy, ostetitis pubis, and a hernia.

I thought I should also seek the opinion of a qualified off-line human, and went along to the physiotherapist. Kieran the physio played origami with my legs and concluded that I had strained my groin.

‘How did you do it?’ asked Kieran

‘I was running down Mount Victoria, and I felt a wee niggle in my pelvis area’

‘What did you do then?’

‘I ran for another two hours. (Sees Kieran’s facial expression and tries to change the story) I did cut my run short by at least 5km.’

‘Ok, that perhaps wasn’t the best idea to keep running. Why do you run so much?’

‘WHY DO YOU PHYSIO SO MUCH! What kind of question is that?’

I left with a sore everything, and a prescription of three days of rest with absolutely no running. Convinced that this meant the end of my running career, and that Kieran had in fact mis-diagnosed a broken femur and gangrene, I went home to sulk.

That's me! Or is it....

That’s me! Or is it….

What to do when you feel an injury coming on

  1. Run through it and finish your workout, neglect to stretch at all (as always) then record your run on Garmin, Strava etc
  2. While sitting at your desk post run analysing your Garmin data, google whatever ailment you have
  3. Pick the worst possible diagnosis with the longest recovery time, you have that.
  4. Use your thesaurus and a Game of Thrones novel to find  grotesque ways to describe the pain so that others can know what you are going through
  5. Since you will never be able to run again, pick a new sport, one that someone once said you could be good at. I picked Pole dancing.  – It’s best if a drunk person said you were good at it.
  6. Google pain treatments, with your broken femur and possible amputation you will need them
  7. Sit at home alone (too painful to go outside to socialise) and swing between crying with self pity, and frowning with anger looking at Facebook updates of other people running
  8. Watch pole dancing videos while googling how to make ‘Cannabutter’ to ease your pain with magic brownies.

 

I’ve been very relaxed this past week, no running at all! I’ve opted for the spin bike for some cardio, and I’ve joined a really cool little yoga studio (Hot Yoga Wellington) so that I can give my muscles a well overdue stretch. Their teachers are fantastic, and I enjoy being the sweatiest and least flexible person in the room.

Same same? I did have the heat pump on 30 degrees so it was almost tropical

Same same? I did have the heat pump on 30 degrees so it was almost tropical

I’ve also been to get a deep tissue massage, these hurt a lot. In my opinion I am pretty fearless, deep tissue shmeep tissue. I pick up spiders from my room and take them outside, I wear shorts on a cold day, I don’t measure the sugar when I bake cookies, I’m a badass. The most afraid I have felt in a long time is when being massaged with deep heat in the groin area. The burning balm was about half a centimetre from my sensitive parts, it was like being separated from a river of boiling lava by a hedge, that had been recently trimmed. ‘Be careful when you go to the bathroom and wipe’ said the masseuse. Lucky she did, because I usually wipe the paper up the length of my entire thigh then right around halfway up my back, not that day though!

Iv’e had an X-ray, which revealed nothing. I ran 2kms and felt like my pelvis was going to snap like a Kit Kat down the middle. A week later I can run for two minutes on the treadmill at a 6.30 pace without too much pain. Two. Minutes. It’s a bit annoying not being 100% sure on what is wrong and missing all the time spent outside in the sun, wind and rain running in the fresh air. In a week I will probably be running again, but just in case I’m not, I’ve started to research in to the cost of installing a pole in my living room.

How to recover from an injury

  • Have a positive outlook, treat your body like it needs serious healing, but think as if you’ll be back to 100% in a week
  • Don’t do the things that hurt, even if they are fun, don’t do them!
  • Extend the truth about the extent of the hurt and demand that you need to be driven everywhere as you cannot possibly walk
  • Be kind to your body, feed it yoga, ice cream, and inspirational quotes from Pinterest, and learn to love time with the foam roller
  • Point to the injury to direct where the sympathy must go, especially if it is very close to your genitals.
  • Realise you can still walk, and still have fully functioning legs, and just focus on what you can do!
It's cool to foam roll

It’s cool to foam roll

Watch this space for my triumphant return to running/ debut as a pole dancer.


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The long and short of it

I have a few words of wisdom for those in the market for running gear for their legs. There is a reason that most people wear black 3/4 tights to exercise. There is a reason why rugby shorts are for rugby, and running shorts are for running. There is a reason for everything!

shortslongs

SHORTS CHAFE!

Yes they do! This will almost always happen at the mid way point on a really long run, you’re a few km’s in and you feel that first little burning sensation on your inner thigh. Too late now mate, those babies will looked like plucked chickens dragged over hot tarseal by the time you get home. Once it starts there is little you can do to stop it, just keep running towards wherever you can get away with wearing no pants for a couple of hours.

Tucking your shorts in to your undies so that you look like you’re running wearing speedos is a method I have used to relieve chafe. It didn’t improve the situation at all, but I felt a sense of freedom running in almost-undies so I left the shorts firmly wedged in there.

Wearing your brother’s old Canterbury rugby shorts to run in is great when you’re starting out. Spot the Southlander careering around Wellington Harbour. The leg holes should be big enough for both legs at once, and the stiff cotton will act like a saw blade. You’ll have a line on your legs so gruesome that the sun will not light anything beyond it.

AVOID BUYING GREY TIGHTS

I love BodyPump. I love it so much that I stand right at the front of the class, every class, and when I hear the music outside the gym I start trying to do rotator raises with butternut pumpkins at New World Supermarket.

Don’t ever buy grey gym tights. The reasons may be immediately obvious to you, but just in case they aren’t, this is why.

When I lay down to do the core workout in the  BodyPump class I thought ‘That’s odd, I don’t remember peeing myself during the class.’ Wait a minute, sweat patches! One nice, visible from space, contrast set to high, crudely shaped like a heart, sweat patch, right in my groin. Complimented by a little sweaty arrow pointing to the spot between my butt cheeks that had acted as a funnel to channel any sweat to the pool gathering a little further down.

beforeandafter

Before and after a run

 Sweat patches are nothing to be ashamed of, they should be aspired to! Peeing yourself is slightly less acceptable, and the two are easily confused.

And the back view

And the back view

Those $15 tights don’t seem like such a bargain now, do they?

 Pick the right equipment for the job

Loose shorts are comfortable, and allow your legs and balls to move freely. Yes I said balls. There has been many a stray nut seen in the gym and the culprit is always that magic combination of loose shorts and no undies. No undies Monday stops when you set foot in the gym. Ladies, same goes for you. Please pick a sensible combination of underwear and over-wear for your bottom half, save the genital flashes for Snapchat.

My advice on choosing leg wear-

  • Pick something with few seam details or different panels of fabric on them. This means fewer parts to chafe and irritate your skin while you work out
  • Dark colours, patterns or horrendously/ gloriously/ heavenly bright tones hide sweat patches.
  • Check that they fit over your thighs properly and don’t sag around your fanny, you’ll end up hoisting them up like panty hose
  • POCKETS! Pockets are great for car keys, energy gels, your ipod and bus/coffee money, all of which you will put through the washing machine in a tired state after your run or gym session
  • Go for quality, if you can afford nice gym gear then do invest. It lasts longer, and there is less danger of it splitting or ripping while you’re in a group fitness class of 100 people mastering a roundhouse kick

 

Side note; I keep running around in these tights intending to get a picture for this blog, so there have been many sweat patches that have gone undocumented, but certainly not unseen. These ones were after a very windy 20km around the Bays in Wellington.