My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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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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Luxmore round II

When the running is good, the blogging gets shelved because who cares about anything aside from your rippling leg muscles and amazing tan when you’re at your peak fitness in the middle of summer. BEHOLD MY DEFINED CALF MUSCLES!

When you get one strained adductor, two sprained ankles, put your back out then get a chest infection it means no running, no biking, no swimming with your arms (or legs), no doing weights, no anything. The silver lining is that you have more time to write your blog and your boobs grow back (ever so slightly). Not enough for a boobie photo, but enough to wear a bra at the very least.

It’s a month coming but here’s a bit about my last trail run race in the deep south, the Luxmore Grunt.

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Frasers Beach in Manapouri, on the way to the race

It only just occurred to me that I’ve never run the same race twice, the Luxmore Grunt is the first. I had no brother to challenge me this year. No illusions as to what to expect on the course, no doubt who would be able to beat me either as the race previews were up on Backcountry Runner. I wanted to win the race but the report identified several high-class beeches including course record holder Shireen Crumpton that would be steaming through the beech trees making short work of the hills. That’s what happens when races get popular, they draw in some pretty amazing athletes.

So… I reset my goals

  • Place in the top five
  • Run under 2.5 hours
  • Don’t fall over
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Figure 1. A couple of amazing athletes. Outfit definitely not on point here. Huge regrets about adding green in to the usual yellow mix.

The night before the race I was staying with my brother at Whare Creek. Where’s that you ask? Here is a helpful map. The internet can see Whare Creek but Whare creek can not see the internet. Lack of internet meant I couldn’t troll people in Youtube comments to let off some steam before the big day so I had to take this pent up belligerent illiterate stream of obscenities with me out on to the trails.

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It’s right there in the middle

Being the social b-skins that we are my brother John and I went to the Manapouri Pub beforehand and had a pint with the locals. After my first pint hit me I realised then that I don’t get nervous about races like I use to and could happily sit here and strategise over a few more. Race strategy for this year was to run faster on the flats, run up the entire hill and take it easy coming down, like, not face-planting would be a great start.

THE RACE
The first 5km was easy, but I was sitting in about 8th place until just before the hill and wondering how with such a good training build up I was sitting so far back in the field. I had to remind myself to run my own race, and not worry about people passing me or people still ahead.

I put the speedy starters down to inexperience and told myself with a smirk that they can enjoy their 20 minutes of glory before I take it from them on the hill. I made sure my breathing was light and my stride was long when I overtook them; make it look like I’m finding it easy when the only thing spurring me onwards is the thought of demoralising a fellow competitor. ‘Making friends is for the finish line’ says race Amanda.

THis cat does not speak to me at all. Cats can't talk

There is a reason cats can’t talk

My newly inflated ego carried me all the way up Mount Luxmore, only stopping high up as the trees began to thin because it got so cold I had to put my thermal back on.

This year the Men’s race leader Tane Cambridge came past me before I even broke the bush line. Either I’m going very slow or he is going extremely fast. It’s not really an either/or scenario as both were correct. Alpine air greeted my nipples with a tweak as I ran through the low tussocks and on the board walk towards Luxmore Hut. Shireen came back past me leading the race followed by the other speedy women, I was way too far behind to make up any places now and was in 6th.

I took it easy enough down the steep downhill because I wanted to be able to run the last flat 5km at a decent pace and not repeat the painful 6 minute kms of last time I raced it. Even with holding back a bit I passed one more female. Yusss. Top five Amanda you bee-a-uty! Now just stay upright until the finish. Further down I passed another woman who was walking and limping. What do I do now?

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Is she in the race? I wonder why she is walking?

Is she walking because she is tired? I smell weakness. Is this a trap?

Oh no she is injured!

Oh helllll yeah, another one down!

I better stop and see if she needs help

I better leap and click my heels when I go past to show just how strong my ankles are

That sucks, an injury so close to the finish she might have placed top three

This rocks, picking up a place so close to the finish line! Pew pew pew see you later!

I yelled out to ask if she was ok as I approached so that I had time to hear her yell an answer back without breaking my stride. Several other people would have passed her already, she was able to walk AND we were close to the finish line. Justified.

The final flat part of the run was easy this year and I managed to overtake a few men in the final kilometres. Again, motivated by imagining how they would feel to be so close to the finish and to have someone who had so poorly chosen their outfit overtake them making it look ugly, but easy.

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Going in for a hug.

I finished fourth female and 14th overall in 2.28.47. Full results here. The women’s race was won by Lizzie Wesley Smith in 2.18.24 with Shireen Crumpton in second and Sarah Douglas third.

Dad was at the finish line to greet me with a huge smile peeking out below his Ridgeline polarfleece uniform and hands caked in mud and dried blood from that mornings’ hunting exploits. Mum was a lot cleaner and had a little purple bag full of drinks and snacks which was exactly what I needed.

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The posture of a jelly bean. Proud parents look on.

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The green does look ok here and enhances my tan. Next time I’ll try a combination of green and black. green might even be my new colour now.

I went and had a beer in the lake and iced my legs and discovered that lake beers are right up there with shower beers. Mum had forgotten where she had parked the car. She actually said ‘It’s near some trees Amanda.’ Please refer to earlier image of Whare Creek to get an idea of how many trees there are in the area.

Looking at my splits from the race I definitely need to work on running up hill, I’m really not great at it. The scenery in Fiordland is beautiful and it’s well worth the trip in to Western Southland if you want to run a race with stunning scenery hidden behind clouds that you’ll have to google image search later on to know what you are supposed to be bragging about.

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In the bush near Lake Monowai


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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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Running in Vietnam – Hoi An & HCMC

Hôi An is a lot smaller than Hanoi with a population of 120,000 it’s about the size of Dunedin. Hanoi had 7 million people and about 5 million god dam scooters so arriving in the relative peace of Hôi An gave me the opportunity to re-prioritise; to stop eating three ice creams a day and start doing some training.

The day after we arrived it was raining and not so hot so I went for my ‘long run’ out to the beach, Ben was in tow riding a faded green bicycle named Martin (Said in a Spanish accent) who protested the entire way.

Benjamiin and Martiin

Benjamiin and Martiin

It was a lot easier to run here without battling crowds, scooters, rickshaws, the pungent leaky bum-like smell of durian mixed with authentic human poo and wee and a heavy helping of trash and exhaust fumes like you have to in Hanoi. In Hôi An you can run along the canals or near the beach, the main roads are well use to cyclists ambling along so a runner is not a problem! It’s very flat here which can get boring, but when its 28-35 degrees I doubt that I would have enjoyed hills very much.

Yay I done running

Yay I done running

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This waterway wasn’t obviously polluted, zero corpses!

I loved running alongside the fields here, this is why!

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Two little dogs followed us along most of this path, aside from the trash it’s pretty idyllic

I attempted a speed session at the hotel on the treadmill. She’ll be right, no air con no worries. What a fool. I managed 5x 1km repeats at a 4.29min/km pace and I was struggling to hit that! Pooh pooh. Struggling so much my iPhone got carried away playing Daft Punk trying to haul my ass faster and faster and hit the deck and flew out into the gym equipment across the room. Struggling so much that there was not a dry place on my whole body, I have never been so sweaty in my life (This was true at that point, it got worse later).

That's me in the conical hat cleaning the river while watching a girl in orange shorts run by

Look closely see if you can spot me! CLUE- I’m wearing a conical hat

I managed one 20km run here, I stopped around every 5km with my scooter support vehicle for water and had a gel at about 16km which gave me a huge boost otherwise I would have jumped on the back of the scooter for a ride home. I was sweating so much that my shorts were constantly dripping on to the back of my calves, have you ever felt that? No? Oh it’s lovely you should try it.

That face you make when you thought you would die but you pulled through and you're still alive for Season 6 #JonSnow

That face you make when everybody you thought you would die but you pulled through and you’re still alive for Season 6 #JonSnow #TheNightsWatchCanGoDie

We went to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) after leaving Hoi An. I’ll call it HCMC because that is more insta-friendly and acronyms make you look like you know things. I got up at 5am to join the Run Club VN running group on a 15km run. I got utterly lost on the way there but thankfully as it’s daylight at 5.15 there are heaps of people to help with directions! I ran with a local Architect named Hung and an expat Swede named Chris. With their help we got lost again and I got to learn from locals about HCMC and what it’s like to run here.

I was excited

We just met each other, lead me in to the depths of Saigon and across a motorway in peak traffic after escaping from a stray dog, it will be fun!

Running in Vietnam has made me realise that while holidays in hot places are nice, running in hot places is a bad time. I would much rather run where humans don’t like to go, where it’s too cold, too windy and too steep. Where you won’t hear the sound of another person much less the commuting of tens of thousands. I really appreciate how clean the air is in New Zealand, and that to get soaked on a run you need to jump in to a body of water and can’t rely on litres of your own perspiration for that ‘just showered’ look. I am really looking forward to cold weather running; mistaking my nipples for wine gums, being sprayed by huge grey surf, having numb fingers and a numb arse and only smelling something even mildly fecal when being crop dusted on a pack run.


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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!