My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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How to break up (gracefully) with running

We’ve all been there.

You think things are going really well in your relationship. You’re happy, you’re shouting at the top of your lungs about how in love you are. You’ve built up a tight knit circle of friends around your relationship, and you can imagine yourself growing old and still being just as much in love as you are now.

Then it’s sprung on you. Things aren’t quite as perfect as you thought.

If I could pick one way to be dumped by running, I guess it would be a majestic, meaty, long run with spectacular views, hills, and slightly overcast to add a bit of moodiness. It would most definitely just the two of you alone, just you and running.

I felt it in my heart that Sunday that things might be over. Things felt strained, something didn’t feel quite right and we parted ways earlier than planned. The next day at the physio things were bad, but salvageable. A groin strain, it would just be a few days. A few days apart and then everything will be back to normal.

My life is ooooverrrr

My life is ooooverrrr

I am finding this breakup really hard, much harder than any break ups with human boyfriends. Running and I were quite steady for almost two years, it was intense! I would get out of bed for running at 4am, I’d stand in icy water reciting the alphabet, I’d go out at 6pm in the rain while everyone else is at Friday drinks, I’d do anything for running.

I know that others will have to go through this at some stage, so I’m offering my advice on how you can survive a break up.


1.Go on the rebound

Rebound with more pew pew than the 10c bouncy balls that you use to get at Paper Plus. Put your fingers and toes in every pie you can find and try any sport that your injury will allow you to do.

Do three sports in a day, do two at once, dabble in things you had never dared to do before because you didn’t understand them. Work out those body parts that you never knew existed, and embrace the things you ‘hated’ because you sucked at them.

I have discovered swimming, and although I can’t use my legs yet, three sessions a week over the past month has meant I have improved a lot and I’m really starting to enjoy it. The first few sessions were painful because I had terrible technique, no goggles, a bikini that liked to untie itself mid-length and I thought I could breathe underwater, but I am getting there! Pool etiquette is quite different to gym etiquette, I’ll elaborate more on that another time.

I find it hard not to be active, so swimming has been fantastic. If you are wondering why I try to keep going despite being injured, have a look at the person who half of my genes come from;

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MUST. KEEP. CHOPPING.

2.Make a playlist

It’s been nine weeks and four days
Since you took my running away *cue single tear*

You will need a lot of Jeff Buckley and James Blunt to begin with, that will get the self pity going and make you feel as down and as desolate as possible. If that doesn’t make you cry in to your Weetbix, follow up with a few of these gems.

  1. Cry me a River– Justin Timberlake
  2. Everybody Hurts– REM
  3. Nothing Compares 2 U– Sinead O’Connor
  4. Hurt– Johnny Cash
  5. Swear it again– Westlife
  6. All by myself– Celine Dion
  7. Iris– The Goo Goo Dolls
  8. Never had a dream come true – S Club 7
  9. Someone like you-Adele
  10. Landslide– Dixie Chicks

 

3.Vent wisely

If you need to rant, do it to a close friend and keep it short; treat any rants like a speed session. They are necessary once a week to keep you sharp, bang it out and it’s done. Nobody wants to hear about how horrible your life is on Facebook or otherwise, because when you really think about it, it isn’t.

Don’t publicly announce your hatred for your ex-sport, because you’ll regret it later. Saying these things publicly means they can’t be taken back, and people who bear witness will remind you long after the feelings have gone, what you said. If you say bad things about running you will get bad running juju and never run another PB.

I am good at internalising the bad thoughts and only letting out the good ones. I might be smiling on the outside, but inside I’ve been running through a list of my FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFavourite expletives for the past nine weeks.

4. Set some new goals

I cried every day for a month when I was first injured. I was really embarrassed about being so upset at ‘nothing’, and the goal I had was to get through the day without any tears. That was a stupid goal! So I set myself some better goals and stuck a large calendar to my wall, this is how they are progressing so far…

  • Cycling – in four weeks  No way Jose, sitting on the fracture is not happening quite yet
  • Aqua jogging – four weeks  It looks like a crap time anyway, freestyle even sounds cooler than ‘Aqua jogging’
  • Losing the crutches – 2  weeks  It’s been 7 weeks and we aren’t looking too good…
  • Being completely healed! 11  weeks (Holding on to hope…)
  • 22″ arms – almost there! Really, I am so close.
  • 3minute long side planks, oh hell yeah. – I’m up to 1 minute 20!
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Ten inches to go!

5.Hold a funeral

Invite all your running friends. Write a eulogy. Make terrible bland sandwiches on dry white bread and serve them with lukewarm milky tea from an ugly urn. Put all your running shoes in a pile and burn them, use stinky old gym gear to fuel the flames. Make sure you get the running friends to remove their shoes at the door, ‘as a mark of respect’. Secretly burn all of their shoes too. Spread the ashes from the shoes around your favourite running routes, at the gym, and at the track. Make sure you loudly refer to the ashes as your old boyfriend when you are doing this. It’s ok to let yourself grieve, you have lost mobility, independence, time with friends, and you have nothing to brag about on Facebook any more.

6.Meditate, don’t medicate

It’s very easy when you no longer have to get up at 5am to fit in a run, to sleep in until lunch time. It’s very easy to have another wine, when you think ‘Oh, I really don’t have a reason to be vertical before 10am’, and then as if by magic, you start reverting to your student days. It starts with one beer and quickly escalates to ladling cheap vodka and apple sours from a bucket. Lying in bed is helpful if you need to rest, but doing it hungover isn’t much fun. Do something more relaxing, like watching re-runs of Full House, reading a book or have staring competitions with your cat. Retail Therapy is also nice.

Amanda is modelling a new swimming cap and togs, what did cripples do before online shopping?

Amanda is modelling a new swimming cap and togs, what did cripples do before online shopping?

7. Reclaim your pre-running habits

As above, hello vino! Remember those people you use to stay in touch with before you started putting running first? Family I think I use to call them, and there was another one called Boyfriend. Get re-acquainted with them. Read a book.

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8. Stop telling the story

If I had a pre-2006 NZ 50 cent piece for every time someone asked me what happened, I’d sit on Oriental Parade with the sack of coins and throw them at the heads of the people running past.

‘What happened to your foot?’

‘I have a stress fracture in my pelvis

‘How did you do that?’

‘Running’

‘What? Did you run in to a pole or off a cliff?’

“Did little Benny Terry do that to ya?’- (followed by an exaggerated wink and a dopey laugh haw haw haw)

I then launch in to the reasons one can get a stress fracture, recovery time, getting stuck in door frames with my crutches and how nice the weather is outside, oh you just got back from running in it? WELL THAT’S FANTASTIC! GOOD FOR YOU! TELL ME MORE!

9.Learn a new skill

I have been doing, of all things, tutorials on how to paint my nails on Youtube. It never occurred to me that people have nice hands and nails because they spend time looking after them. I think running themed nails will have to be next…

10. Be patient

The feelings of hopelessness will fade, and one day you’ll wake up and realise that you haven’t even thought about running for a week. That week might not be the week that you were supposed to be at National Road relays, or any of the weeks you are working inside a gym, but that week will come. It might only come when you’re 89 and suffereing from memory loss, but it will come.

Have you ever had an injury? What helped you get through it? How many people did you murder? 


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What missing toenail?

I mentioned in a previous post that I was sure I would see the death of my big toenail a few months after Tarawera. I’m always right, and I was right, as always, about this.

My toenail did die a very slow, dirt and unidentifiable particle collecting, undignified death. There is no getting around how ugly my toes look right now. The nail is making a slow comeback; it’s going through an uneven, lumpy Franken-toe awkward puberty stage right now. My feet weren’t ever model material, but with the added element of missing toenail making a return, something had to be done.

I’ll show you ten ways that you can disguise a missing toenail and have pretty, socially acceptable, non-vomit-inducing feet. If you haven’t been lucky enough to have this happen, keep a few tricks up your compression sleeve  for when it inevitably does.

What missing toenail?

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Click to zoom in for more yuck

Covering the offending digit needn’t be a chore. You don’t have to put in too much effort really, depending on the circumstance, the occasion, and who you think might see your toe it can be a very simple fix. Let’s begin with a few very basic ideas.

 1. Wear socks with bananas on them

Socks are unisex, and come in an array of colours, patterns and textures

Socks are unisex, and come in an array of colours, patterns and textures

Socks are the obvious solution, but what if you’re going to the beach or the swimming pool and your latex swimming socks don’t match your outfit? I have a solution for you!

2. Paint your toenails

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Sexy red nail polish. You can’t even tell that one toenail is a jagged half grown mess

Nail polish is fairly cheap, comes in lots of colours, and will stay on your toe until the nail eventually grows out if you are too lazy/busy/carefreeYOLO to remove it, it’s hardy stuff. It sticks to anything light coloured or expensive but will not stick very well to skin, and if you try to paint a ‘fake’ nail on to your skin patch it will only rub off after a couple of days.

 3. Add glitter to mask any imperfections

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Ruby Slippers!

4. Add a little more glitter

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Very glitter! So Sparkle. Wow.

If the toenail flaw is still a bit obvious, you can always go a step further. Apparently you can just put makeup on your feet, this would also do away with your sock tan. Can you do smokey eyes on feet?

5. Pretend a child painted your toenails for you

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My imaginary child painted my toenails last night, soooo cute!

When disguises won’t work, the next step to take is to create a diversion. Draw attention away from your gammy toenail by getting people to focus on something else, like how strange you are.

Some of these ideas are only workable in very specific scenarios and cannot be used in everyday life.

6. Toest

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Out for a bare foot breakfast? Try some Toe Jam.

 7. Toeblerone

Someone's been through duty free!

Someone’s been through duty free!

8. Potatoes

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Roast, baked, mashed, so versatile

9. Toepographical map

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Bet you barely noticed my missing toenail here.

 10. Eskitoe Pie

For those 'Can't beat Wellington on a good day' days

For those ‘Can’t beat Wellington on a good day’ days

I hope that you find at least a few of these useful, and if you have your own ideas on how to disguise those runner’s feet and missing toenails, please comment and let me know.


 

Note: Because I am injured, less time on feet (8+ hours a week) means more time on my hands, hence I have been in many different social situations requiring toe disguises.

I took away a few lessons from this time photographing my feet

  • If you have a fractured pelvis, take off your beige pants before painting your foot green or it will be difficult to wash said foot in the shower
  • Acrylic paint washes of skin, or toenail, not patches of toenaily skin.
  • Chocolate, glitter, and jam also stick to toenaily skin and are very hard to wash off
  • Don’t tell people that you ate the toest, they will think you are yuck. (Why waste perfectly good peanut butter?)
  • Ice cream on your toes for five minutes will make them numb and give you chilblains


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NZ Half Marathon Championships

The night before a race is like the night before catching a flight to go on that holiday that you’ve been saving for months for. You’re afraid that you’ll sleep in and miss it, so your body wakes up every hour. You get stressed out that you’ll be too tired from not sleeping and not enjoy it as much, or that your glands are sore, your achilles is getting niggly, or that you’re going to be like that poor guy who shat himself during the marathon. Yes, that will be you. All of the above and MORE will happen to you, so panic now!

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Start line of the 2014 NZ Half Marathon Champs

The night before the race- Amanda the avid Rugby fan, like all other patriotic New Zealander’s watched the All Black’s test match. Coconut water in one hand, vege sausage rolls in the other, I sat facing the screen, resting my limbs and feigning interest in the wads of muscle hitting each other at speed while I imagined tomorrow’s run. My pre-race plan is to eat as if it’s your last meal, cram as much in as possible. Don’t eat Haribo Gummi bears or large quantities of raw fruit, just eat your normal dinner but a in a portion size equal to your bodyweight at 18months old (Consult your Plunket book for an accurate measure).

Morning of the race– Wake up an hour before your alarm goes off after your third dream about missing the start line or arriving there naked. Eat breakfast, for me this is porridge with chia seeds and all this other fancy organic stuff that I think I need but have no idea what benefits it actually gives me.

While the porridge is porridgeinating I make a plunger full of coffee. This part of my race prep is critical. Half way in to your coffee (Which you alternate with mouthfuls of porridge and bits of a sudoku) the time will come. It’s always just as your porridge is the perfect temperature, just as you’re cracking the hard part of the sudoku, the coffee starts to move. From this point you have exactly 45 seconds in which to down spoon, get to the bathroom, and pull down your pyjama pants.

Getting all your business done well before the start gun goes off is essential so that you have peace of mind while running in your yellow pants. If you aren’t a coffee person then perhaps go the other way and have an immodium if you’re worried.

I was really confident going in to this race. I hadn’t raced a half marathon since running this exact event a year ago, and that still stands as the worst race I’ve ever run. I learned many valuable lessons in last year’s half marathon. I went out too fast, I was coming off an injury and had done one 7km run in the month leading up to the event, I wore the wrong clothes in the wrong order, and perhaps the biggest and most painful lesson was that I didn’t cut my toenails before the race. Bloody hell, it hurt.

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Post-race in 2013, bleeding toes, could barely walk!

This year my friend Chan offered to pace me. He wasn’t too fussed about getting the best possible time, and for me this run was about getting the little things right and pacing myself. What I think Chan actually wanted was a posse to run with to bear witness to his popularity. Me and another man who was dressed a little like Papa Smurf were Chan’s bridesmaids as he paraded around the bays, us tucked behind him as he gracefully put one foot in front of the other, waving, and smiling for the cameras, ‘Hi Chan!’ ‘Nice running Chandima’, Gooooo Chan!’.

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We planned to run the first half at 4.15mins/km and stick with the the 90min group. We went out a bit faster than than that and just focused on keeping a steady rhythm. There was a bit of wind as we headed out and we tactfully tucked in behind people so that they took the brunt of it. As we came to Cog Park an escaped lunatic dressed in a skeleton onesie leapt up and down and yelled ‘Go Broughty!’, Laura Shields you are amazing!

I had some Powerade at the 8km aid station then we continued to the half way point, it was pretty easy and we chatted about… RUNNING, would you believe. The crazy men that can run under 70 minutes were already flying back past us here and looking really determined. We continued to look as photogenic as ever in our bridal procession.

 

Me, Chan and Papa Smurf just past 8km's. Photo by Yuliya Bozhko

Me, Chan and Papa Smurf just past 8km’s. Photo by Yuliya Bozhko

The second half of the course after the tun around is always the best part! You know you’re over half way, and you get to see everyone on your way back and yell and wave at them because they are so happy to see that you have 7km’s to go and they have 14 🙂 I felt a bit tired here so had some raspberry Cliff Gel which stuck all over my fingers.

One more Powerade to wash this down, and a cup of water which I shoved my hand in to to get rid of raspberry residue and we were in to the final 5kms. For the first time in my life, the last 5km felt like a breeze. We saw another female up ahead and worked on passing her. We were easily holding 4min/kms with the tail wind and started to pass a few people. It’s such a great feeling to be doing negative splits, going faster in your second half being only a few km’s from the finish line.

I passed a guy running the marathon that I had seen doing the Tarawera, he always magically appears in that point of the race when you’re trying to find anything you have left to get you over the line as quickly as possible. ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Really good!’ Running up the final ramp I weaved through the 10km walkers and could see the giant digital clock in sight. 1.27.15 it said. I was stoked, better get across that line within the next 45 seconds so I can claim 1.27! I’m good at the sprint finish, I have a secret weapon for such intense moments, a giant vein on the right side of my temple. It comes out at key moments in my life, and only when cameras are involved.

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My final finish time was 1.27.55, with a mat time of 1.27.48. That’s a 7minute PB on last year’s run!

What I loved about this race was seeing people I’ve met through my club, through the gym and those familiar faces you see on your regular runs, all out there giving it a go. I’m a lot more in tune with my body now than I was a year ago. I know how hard I can push myself, I know when I’m too tired, too thirsty, and if it’s my legs or my lungs that are fatigued.

Full results are here! Getting under 90 minutes with this race also means I get an Athletics New Zealand ranking, which is pretty cool. I look forward to chasing a faster time later this year and perhaps getting closer to 26.

WINNER! The prize was an expired Powerade, I was elated!

WINNER! The prize was an expired Powerade, I was elated!

What I did right!

  • I competitively ate the night before the race so that I had enough energy for the race
  • I cut my toenails
  • Even though it was cold, I wore a singlet, you always warm up after 10minutes
  • I worked with someone, this is great for staying on track and sticking to your plan. Having that person say ‘Come on you can do this, it’s not as hard as Tarawera’ is a real help!

How I can improve for next time

  • I ran the Rimutaka rail trail a week before this, all 34kms of it. It was fun, but my legs were still feeling it a week later. I should stick to the program. But there was a waterfall! Stick to the program.
  • Match my yellows better, it’s all or nothing here, sunshine yellow and Scottish Gold was a bit risky, next time we’ll go for black shorts and perhaps a crop top to keep my chest from hitting my chin.
  • Try harder! I need to lose my fear of blowing up and not having the energy to cross the line, I think If I can manage 3.50min/kms at the end I could have given a little more effort earlier on

P.S This race doubled as the NZ Half Marathon Championships. I came 13th female overall, and 8th in the Championship. The Scottish Senior women also took out the team competition.