My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Don’t call it a comeback

Making a comeback from injury is hard. It takes patience, persistence, and it makes you question the value of what you’re doing, is it really worth putting in all this effort to be ‘fit’ again?

Estimates vary wildly, but according to the internet and a quick scan of who is having a Strava drought, between 30-50% of runners will get an injury in the next 12 months. That is a lot!

In any group of runners there are always a handful that are coming back from some sort of injury or extended break, and the postpartum runners are often lumped in to this despondent bunch as well.

Pushing shit uphill – First 5km post baby

Not an accident, not an injury, what is it then?

In New Zealand we’re pretty fortunate to have accidental injuries covered by ACC. The majority of my ACC claims follow a very similar script. Something to the effect of… ‘I was running then I… stepped off a curb/ tripped backwards over a bench/ tripped on my own feet/ stepped on a rock/ ran down a hill in the rain through slippery mud wearing worn out Nike pegs and tried taking a selfie on my GoPro Hero 5 as I rounded a corner going full tit gunning for a Strava Segment. AND then I sprained my ankle.’

Running has meant that I have become fairly well acquainted with my physiotherapist.

‘Hello again Amanda. Let me guess, you tripped over again. What did you land on this time?’

It was long and hard but it wasn’t a curb Elaine. Heh.

The most traumatic event to happen to my body was not an accident, and is something that over 50,000 women in New Zealand go through every year. Oh, it’s the most natural thing in the world! Our bodies were designed for it, it’s a miracle! My dog did it too! Exciting times! #blessed! That aside, it is still an incredible physical feat that takes a massive toll on your body.

Technically pregnancy is considered a medical condition, because it can make your health suffer and you can lose some of your ability to function as normal. It also has the potential to kill you.

Back when I thought I was sick of doing laundry

The baby is OUT! What happens now?

38 weeks deep and feeling like a balloon filled with elbows and wet socks, I was thinking ‘I can’t wait to give birth and for my body to be my own again.’ Spoiler alert!! You might be sole charge of the body again but it’s not going to be the same as the one you started with.

Post-birth I found it pretty unbelievable that there was no defined path to helping your body to recover from such a major event. I thought that there would be a physical exam to check for abdominal separation, maybe something inserted somewhere to check for pelvic floor strength. When I asked my GP about this mysterious ‘Postpartum check up’ she said, ‘What? Why?’. There is no free postpartum check up in New Zealand.

She’ll be right! Our bodies were designed for it! My dog gave birth to six puppies in the wood shed and she was fine! Actually she suffered from arthritis in her hips for years and now she is dead, but totally fine apart from that.

I feel lucky that I know my body well enough to be aware of something feeling a bit off. I also feel lucky that I can afford to go to a personal trainer and get an exercise program designed to help me to recover after having a baby. Not everyone has that luxury, so recovering from birth ends up being a little bit of luck and a lot of guess work.

The recovery for this injury could just be the good old RICE method? Rest, sleep when the baby sleeps (Pro tip, sleep when the baby cleans). Ice your exit wound, compress your insides back into the correct place and elevate everything that hurts. Because literally everything hurts, the only way to elevate it all is to do a handstand. Or float face down in a pool of your own tears.

Just resting my eyes

Rehab for the addict

I got very mixed advice on how long to wait after birth to return to running. Six weeks, eighteen months, and just six days. After chatting to some running mums I decided I would wait for six weeks and see how I felt. Five weeks and four days in I went for a walk/run and just labelled the activity a walk on Strava. Sneaky. Pretty much six weeks!

It’s a year after the event and I have enjoyed a relatively smooth return to exercise. By relatively smooth I mean I am totally killing it fuck yeah go me! And aside from sprained ankle #47 I had a far easier time than I imagined getting back to running fast.

While I have had it easier than some, I’ve also worked very hard. Pelvic floor, and strength and rehab exercises were prioritised and done 2-3 times a week. I spent over 30 hours doing these alongside walking, cycling, screaming while left alone with my thoughts, and getting what I will very loosely refer to as ‘proper rest’.

I would often think about how much effort I would put in to rehab an ankle sprain to be able to run efficiently and without any pain or niggles. Having a human make an exit through my pelvis was a bit more serious than a little ankle sprain, so it was treated as such and I was very regimented about doing the right things to recover properly.

Hours were spent on the wind trainer while the baby slept. Solo laps run around the neighbourhood in the dark when parent #2 got home. Last minute rehab exercises at 10pm, or sometimes at 3am because I couldn’t sleep after night feed #4. Looking back I can’t believe how committed I was to getting my body back in to working order.

7 months postpartum ( . ) ( o )

Did it actually feel worse than an ankle sprain tho, like a really bad one?

Straight after having a baby it hurt to stand on one leg and put pants on. It hurt to walk, it also hurt to sit thanks to an episiotomy. EVERYTHING hurt and taking painkillers religiously every six hours would keep me from being a sobbing mess. My exercise consisted of walking around the house and lifting a 3.36kg weight all day. AND ALL NIGHT and oh my god it kept getting heavier.

I was waking up at night thinking that I had hip pain, was this another injury? Was it early onset arthritis?! It was just my undies cutting in to my skin because my ass got bigger. This expansion also explained another symptom that Google misdiagnosed. I was feeling like my bits were still swollen post episiotomy because it felt all weird when I sat down, like there was extra padding. No medical complications, no swelling, just the extra padding that comes with a fatter bum.

When the pain faded I started walking wearing the baby in a wrap, and for the first few walks everything felt quite wonky. I was still sore and if I walked for too long or on difficult terrain I would feel a bit crap. I was also exhausted and hormonal and slightly effing crazy but getting fresh air was very necessary.

Would I rather recover from a sprain or childbirth? I pick sprain for the ACC benefits, and a taped ankle says ‘serious athlete’ more than a maternity pad ever could.

Preggo ankle gets a lot of attention

Youuuu just wait until [insert random age of child or #of months pregnant] then you’ll see how HARD it is!

Everyone has such a different experience, some find pregnancy really tough, others find it easy. You have this fear of complaining about anything, or admitting to how you feel because you are going to get judged for every single thing you say. It’s easier not to say anything.

I hated being pregnant. At least you can get pregnant!

It’s hard adjusting to work while parenting and trying to run. I stopped exercising when I had kids, prioritise!

I’m so tired, I wish the baby would sleep past 5am. My three kids don’t sleep and I am up at 4 every day! *proceeds to piss so high that my eyes roll back in my head trying to follow the stream*

Years ago I got a stress fracture in my pelvis. I was in tears because I had to use crutches for two months, I couldn’t run, and I was worried that I would get depressed again without being able to exercise. Someone thought to console me by saying ‘Well it’s not like you have cancer.’ Ingrid, you’re a dick.

No matter what your situation, there will always be someone worse off than you. Does that mean that you shouldn’t get to have feelings because you’re not THE most tired, you don’t have the worst stretch marks, or didn’t have the most trouble breastfeeding?

Your feelings are always valid, because they’re yours. Your story is your own, so own it. Talk about your experiences because they’re yours. It might not mean much to most people but to someone it might mean everything, even if the only person it means something to is you.

Coming back to fitness from any sort of injury or medical condition is hard. Giving birth is a big deal and it’s amazing how little professional guidance there is for the average joe like me. I’m not a pro athlete, but exercise is a big priority for me. I’m not going to be scared off it because someone with a different lifestyle has a different opinion (shock horror) and thinks you shouldn’t run for 18 months after birth.

If it wasn’t for the honesty of many of the mums I have sent panicked messages to asking for advice and reassurance I think I would have given up. So thank you Emily and Emily, Sophie, Steph, Christina, Amanda, Hannah, Tamara, Megan, Anna, Ange, Jess, Claire Phaedra, Lisa, Sierra, Arpita, Jenna, Laura, Becky, Vera, Amy, all the Kates, Cassie, Shelley, Sarah and Michelle for being such amazing role models. You’re pretty cool!

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It’s the tits!

Is it morning already?

You stare bleary eyed at the ceiling, stretching and yawning, and you’re immediately aware of hunger pangs in your puku. You rub your eyes with balled fists and lick your gums. Pulling your warm booties over your feet, you stumble in to the kitchen, just in time to see your muesli and yoghurt walking out the door! Running shoes on, spoon tucked under one arm, clearly trying to make a break for it while you were sleeping.

What would you do? Scream. You would scream and poke your tongue out repeatedly until the delicious breakfast items are returned to you.

That’s what the baby does when I want to leave the house for an early run. And fair enough, I get hungry, and I love breakfast too. I just don’t enjoy having to be the breakfast.

I was aware of all ‘The things NOBODY tells you about pregnancy and child birth!’ after clicking the bait and reading at least ten online articles with that exact title. But I still got a shock with the titties. As a life-long member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee (who never graduated from wearing an A-cup bra) the titties have been my biggest challenge.

If you run a lot you might be in the same teeny tiny boat. Boobs are not something you need to worry about when they are small. They never bounce, they don’t get chafe, and you can keep wearing the same grimy, stretched, unsupportive crop-top you’ve had for the past six years because all it’s really doing is censoring your nipples.

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Example of nipple censoring crop-top that is doing zero work.

Of all the misguided yet well-meaning advice given to me while pregnant this had the poorest timing, ‘Make the most of them when they’re small’.

You see, people were giving me this advice a few weeks after I had given birth. Perhaps they were referring to the baby, but I couldn’t see any baby past these giant milky globes and salami nipples.

By the time you get this advice it is too late and your tits are at their peak size. Bloated like a week-old dead ewe, and so tender that even looking at them hurts. They are leaky, vascular, rock-hard melons.

Oh, it’s far too late. You think back to those times, nine months ago, when your tiny rack fit neatly into a size small crop top. A single thin layer of stretchy fabric, and you could run without needing reinforced stitching in your bra or your vagina.

Gone are the days where you could break into a care-free jog to cross the street, the days of hugging people without your boobs noticeably pressing in to their chest, and the days of taking selfies from any angle other than above your face. You have cleavage to consider now so your ‘best angle’ has completely changed.

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What a lovely photo #oopsdidntmeanto

I wish I had made the most of them while they were small. I think back to the times when I moaned about my small chest, and my boobs looking like two extra abdominal muscles rather than actual mammaries.

I use to pull a crop top over my head and be on my merry way out the door for a run in the sun. Then my chest grew and I had to introduce a new check before heading out the door.

  • House key – check
  • Laces double-knotted – check!
  • Socks match my crop top and shoes are of a complimentary colour – check
  • Nipples are in alignment – che-

Wait, what?

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Nipple confusion is a real issue

They take a while to get use to, but like most pregnancy and child related things they will change quickly and before I know it they will be gone, faded deflated to a distant memory. So I’ll be making the most of them while they’re big.

‘The tits’
The same as The Shit, only better because tits are great and shit isn’t.
‘That Shit Was The Tits!’


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Sharing is Caring?

I don’t like to share.

I don’t want to share. Sharing isn’t caring, caring is putting yourself first. Call it selfish, but I believe you need to look after yourself first and foremost before you can be of any use to anyone else.

I’ve found myself in the situation where I have no choice but to share, and I’m sharing my body with a little human. I can’t say I’m a big fan of it, but there are worse things I could be having to share…

  • My toothbrush
  • Bus seats
  • Conversations during my commute home from work
  • Conversations (NOTE: one-sided) about childbirth or varicose veins on the vulva, especially do not enjoy sharing these with strangers during my commute home from work
  • Brendon
  • The wheel of Brie I left in the office fridge in 2016 that someone ate HALF of and I will not forget that for the rest of my life
  • All and any food ever
  • The footpath when I’m 95% done with my tempo and you’re walking three abreast
  • The track when I’m doing reps shirtless in my compression shorts with my fly as squad DON’T TALK TO ME SOPHIE CAN’T YOU SEE I’M WORKING HERE

 

The small human pokes me hard underneath the ribs, head-butts my bladder, and just generally makes me feel like shit. To go from exercising two hours some days, to having to nap after a 20 minute run takes a bit of adjustment. I knew I’d have to slow down, but this much??

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Lots of this

The second trimester is apparently the ‘easy’ part of human growing. For me it included the summer holidays, relaxed time off work for extra napping, hot hot sun, and being able to run and explore in different places around New Zealand. At the time it did not seem easy. Now that I have the third trimester to compare it to, IT WAS DAMN EASY.

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Wainuiomata Coast

I managed to run a race, the Waterfront 5km. I have not run fast in a very long time, and this felt fast to me! I was pretty pleased with a 22.20 5km time at 22 weeks pregnant.

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Training for the Second Trimester 

  • Longest run: 11km (longest run in six months!)
  • Longest ride: 48.3km, a Makara Loop at 27 weeks, the hill, the hill…
  • Average hours of exercise: 5 1/2 per week
  • Biggest run week: 38.6km

I was pretty consistent throughout the second trimester and averaged around 30km a week. As I was still coming off an injury I didn’t push it too hard, I still took walk breaks on my runs and increased the duration of each run very slightly. I rode my bike a lot and got a lot slower on the uphills, and a wee bit faster on the downhills with the weight gain giving me that little curvy edge.

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Riding around Makara 24 weeks

The Best Parts

I finally finished my walk-run rehab program! What a great feeling to get that over and done with, it made me appreciate being able to run so much more. Getting through that meant that I was able to go for a run and not be constantly looking at my watch to make sure I was sticking to the walk run times, I could just jog for 30-40 minutes and be free.

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I ran with other people! They were totes cute! Yay!

I went on some great rides! Hawkes Bay was beautiful, and being the non-drinker in the house over New Years meant that I could fill in the few hours of sunrise before everyone woke up with quiet solo rides around the orchards.

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How do you like them nectarines?

The Worst Parts

At the 17 week mark I started to get round ligament pain in my pelvis. This feels like someone has kicked a drop goal using your fanny as the ball. It hurt to the point that I could not walk from the couch to the toilet, I crawled. I had to be carried in to the house from the car numerous times as I was unable to walk a few steps. This cleared up after a week and a half and I was able to run just fine.

I am not a fan of running in the heat, and unless it dips below 12 degrees I will likely be running in a T-shirt or a crop top. Summer was hot, think trapped inside a rhino hot. It slowed me down a lot and it would take me at least half an hour to stop sweating buckets which got awkward when I went for lunch runs from work.

Because I couldn’t really plan when I could run, couldn’t guarantee that I would run at all, or if I would just walk, or if I would have to stop and pee three times I mostly ran alone. When you are use to spending hours each week running and chatting with friends, this really sucks.

I don’t have a lot to complain about, I’ve managed to stay pretty active and aside from the devastating loss of my innie belly button I am going to be just fine.

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21 weeks

 

 


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Round and Round and Round The Bays

I haven’t told many people about my first time. Have you?

It’s always going to be a bit embarrassing, but it is a rite of passage that we all must pass through. Your first time will always hold a special place in your memory. A painful, awkward, sometimes shameful place, but it is a starting point from which you learn and grow. For some it puts them off ever wanting to do it again. But some of us get hooked.

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My first time! Round The Bays Half Marathon in 2013

The first proper race I ran was Round The Bays in Wellington and I’ve been back every single year since that first magic run. For the past four years it has been in support of other runners, and this year, even though I wasn’t fit, and I was certain to be slow and perhaps less fabulous looking than other years, I wanted to run it again!

2013My first half marathon, 1.38.09 and dead legs for a week. Alexandra Williams won the women’s race in 78.15, who were all these crazy fast runners? Reading this list again today, those names are some of my best friends and training partners. Was it worth the hours of training that summer and the pain for a week afterwards? A thousand times over.

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2013 – My friend Emmatron made me this cool sign!

2014 – I came to the event as a supporter and pushed Naomi Sparrow in the buggy around the Bays while Mum and Dad raced. I didn’t tip her out onto the road and didn’t trip anyone over so will call it a victory!

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2014 – We chucked a few stones on course and cheered for Emily and James

2015 – I ran alongside my friend Hinano to pace the 50 minute group for the 10km, I would post a picture of us looking fly AF and matching strides but they cost $30 for one photo. Ah, race photos.

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2015 – Post race with Sarah, Emily and Naomi

2016 – I had real job this year, pacing the 10km. I run-commuted in to the city, paced, then finished off a long run totalling 28km. I look quite happy about it too.

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2016 – Pacing the 10km aided by Yuliya

2017 – Was spent pacing the Half Marathon 1.40 group. I was coming off an injury and pah-robably should not have run this fast. At the 17km point things got a bit rough but I made it across the line in 1.40.11 which is only half a second slow per kilometre, pacing is hard! I was also an ambassador for the event this year and met a lot of very cool people in the process.

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2017 – Most enjoyable half marathon I’ve ever run!

2018 – Round The Bays run in Wellington looked to be a race where I ran mid-pack and faded into the crowds. Wait, what does fade mean? If I can’t earn my way on to the podium as a means of directing attention to myself there are plenty of other ways I can do it.

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2018 had the best lighting

IMPORTANT RACE PLANNING

The thing that concerned me most about this race was what I was going to wear. My Scottish club singlet was now riding up over my belly button (an outie, I have an outie). Most of my shorts are tight to the point of being uncomfortable and give me little love handles and 100% of my sports bras are too small but since boobies are still a novelty I am yet to replace them.

I went for the only club top that remotely fitted me and paired it with red Ruby Woo lippy, Mr B’s flash new Giro cycling socks and a red tutu. The result was fabulous.

RACE DAY

I planned to run this race with the 50minute pace group of JT, Rampant Lion who is always keen for a scandalous chat, and Peter Murmu, another of my Scottish team mates. The thing is, when the starting gun went off we were well back from the timing mat. I had a good 12-15 seconds to make up if I was going to hit exactly 50 minutes for my gun time. Gun time is the real time, it’s the official race time and this was an official race for me god damn it.

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Ditch the boys

I set off at a manageable pace and within the first 2 kilometres passed a lot of the people who got far too excited and went out at 4min pace when they are a 50 minute runner. Not me, years of experience and a large tummy takes a bit of that eager premmie pace out of the legs.

I didn’t run balls to wall, just fast enough to be making some sort of effort but not puffing too much or putting too much strain on my body since it was carrying another smaller body inside of it. I passed a few people in the race who would eye me and the belly, attempt to overtake again, then concede defeat and disappear after a few hundred metres. I heard someone yell at me ‘You go Big Mama!’, that’s a new one.

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I got to the wind needle just in time to see all the fast people in their final finishing kilometre for the 10km and half marathon races. It’s always such a buzz to see these faces and cheer for them as they’re busting their nuts/ ovaries while I am floating along like the classiest red balloon you’ve ever seen.

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I’ve made several friends since RTB 2013, this is only like 2% of them.

I finished the race in 47.41 and was 36th female across the line, 10th in my age group. If we further segment the results data I was FIRST AMANDA! Basically I won but there isn’t a prize for it. Kinda hoped I would join Nicole and Ayesha on the podium to make it a Scottish trifecta but I was about 7 minutes behind schedule for that.

I’m looking forward to running this event again next year, hopefully a bit faster! The best thing will be having my little cheer squad at the finish line, or perhaps on course with me if I can find a tiny red tutu and some matching socks for her racing debut.

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Post race fuel at the Spruce Goose


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If you don’t have anything nice to say

‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’

I know that what mum meant when she said this was to refrain from calling my brothers stupid dicks or poo heads (in public, say what you like on the farm), but the phrase has stuck with me like dried cow shit to a bike frame.

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No it’s fine. I’m fine. Really it’s fine. I meant this to happen.

Being a generally happy human, a ‘yes’ person, and doing nice things for people because that is what gives you joy, that’s all a bit hard when you aren’t feeling yourself.

It’s been a challenge the past ten months being injured on and off, on and off, and never quite getting back to training properly. I thought it was best not to write anything because, well, I didn’t have anything nice to say.

It has taken me months to realise that I do have nice things to say, I just need to change the way I think and focus on the positive. Some really nice things have happened to me in the past few weeks, here’s the first one.

Nice Thing #1 I joined a gym

I was struggling along with what I thought was a tight muscle in my hip, it was painful and I had been unable to run properly for two months. I got in touch with my old personal trainer Greig Rightford at Healthfit Collective gym and got him to look at my running form. Something was definitely a bit off. He told me to stop running immediately. I hated this idea. ‘It will be hard to stop but just don’t do it, it will be better for you in the long run.’

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Things to do when you aren’t running

When stopping running didn’t stop the hip pain I went back to my GP, and got referred to see a sports Doctor. When I finally got my referral and got the call from them, the next available appointment was two months away. T W O  M O N T H S !

I was at home crying about the hot pain in my hip, and thinking about how much I hate fit and able-bodied people when Greig emailed to see how I was.

Just thought I’d check in with you – how are you progressing? 

I was quick to say that I’m sick of trying to run, I give up. I’m done. Greig disagreed with that sentiment and got me to come back to the gym ‘I want to help you in any way I can.’ I’m pretty amazed at how nice people are to me, and this made my month.

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Rehabbing hard

In my second week of trying to get motivated to do early morning gym rehab I bumped in to Ruth Highet, the Doctor who helped me with my first stress fracture. When I told her about the wait to see the other Sports Doctor she said that was ridiculous.

Two hours later, sitting at my work desk I got a call from her office, and had an appointment for the next day at 9am. X-rays done, follow up appointment, MRI, all within two weeks. Everything sorted five weeks before I would have seen the first sports Doctor, incredible.

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Some things to stretch and poke your bits with

I feel incredibly lucky to know such generous people, and so grateful to have had help to get my injury diagnosed, my body healing, and my mind thinking more optimistically.

I’ve only said one nice thing, there are so many more and so many people who have gone above and beyond to help me out, I feel very humbled.

Right now I’m waiting to get the results back from my MRI, it is likely a stress fracture in the area around my hip socket, sacrum, or the top of my femur. If you guess correctly you win a prize!


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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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Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Riding 100km

The best way to learn a new skill is to go deep, submerge that sack subaqueous, and get stuck in. Don’t wade in and test the water with your toe, do a manu.

Before you set off on a long ride, there are a few things you should attempt to learn first, riding the bike is only one of those things! These are helpful questions that you can ask yourself if you are thinking abut embarking on a pedal powered expedition.

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1. Am I good enough to ride with other people?

The likelihood is slim if you’re reading a running blog looking for riding advice. A good way to test your skills and to pick up new ones is to ride with other newbie cyclists so that you can learn the ropes (cables?) together.

Riding with people who think that a cassette is a mix tape, and who don’t have terrifying intimidating vascular meaty quads and lumpy moose knuckles all stuffed like a hastily packed sleeping bag into a too-small shiny lycra casing – is a great way to get started.

You can both focus on your cycling skills rather than the pace, and you will probably both have un-cool cycling gear so will avoid embarrassing your mates who have a perfectly matching kit and their sock length measured down to the millimetre.

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My cycling gang

Riding with other people who have an interest in cycling, but do not feature in any Strava leaderboards is great for enthusiastic beginners. You can do dip-shitty things together at a slightly faster pace than you can with the super new newbies. You can break all the ‘cool’ cycling codes, and get called wankers by bearded people driving four-wheel drives because you were masturbating on your bike at the traffic lights, again.

There is a limit to riding with newbies. If someone turns up to ride the 60km leg of a charity cycle on a bike they have never ridden saying ‘Lolz I am hungover as and I haven’t trained for this’, fuck them. Do not ride with them.

2. Do I really need all the gear?

Does the Pope shit in the woods? Yes you need all the gear. Looking even vaguely like you belong on a bike will make you seem, to the uneducated eye like a ‘real’ cyclist. Someone might even ask you if you are a professional (they could have been asking the person next to me, I’m sure it was me though).

As a general rule the amount of gear you need is always one less item than you currently own. At the very least you should invest in a spare set of shorts if you intend on riding more than once every few days, because when you’re riding inland you can’t get away with blaming that swampy smell on the seaweed.

3. How do I deal with stressful situations?

Going on a long ride when you are not a cyclist is really terrifying. Especially when you know it’s going to go on for hours, and you will hit the wall and get tired and cranky. Going on a long ride with your workmates will test your ability to keep your big girl pants firmly on when you stress out and want to have a tantrum. Any hardships and stressful situations that you face during this ordeal will be downplayed and internalized on the day, then let out two weeks later in a blog post that you hope none of these people will ever read.

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Happy about this ride with the workmates, it was only 45mins!

I signed up for a 100km charity ride through work, it seemed like a very noble thing to do and I was happy to discover others from my office were also doing the ride. We arrived at the start of the ride in Levin, got on the bicycles and set out into the mist and drizzle that would not lift for the entire day on our journey to Upper Hutt.

One colleague had packed a large bottle of sunscreen in his saddle bag, perhaps just in case he needed some extra moisture to masturbate at the traffic lights, as those wanker cyclists tend to do. Another ‘hadn’t trained for a year’ he said, but something was keeping him well ahead of the pack. Was it pride? Having ridden a bike before? A more senior position in the office? Padded pants? We will never know.

The 5 hour, 120km ride was damp, dank, and dreary in parts but we pulled through as a team and managed to do our first 100km on the bike. I managed to remain positive when I really wanted to cry and swear and sit on the side of the road. I didn’t say a single four letter word, spit, or launch any snot rockets in front of my workmates, you can’t do that in front of the people you work with.

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1-0-0 Kilometres!

4. Can I fix my own bike?

If you are going on a long ride you should at least learn how to change your own tyre. Some problems though you can’t plan for, like your chain going completely dry because you didn’t bring any oil. Oh wait you can plan for that, bring your own dam oil! Spit might be hailed as a magic lube but it doesn’t work in this situation. Have a cyclist friend on speed dial so that you can call them from outside the Palmerston Pub and ask how to fix your gears or if the butter from your sandwiches will work as chain lube.

Photo unrelated to point that paragraph is making

5. How often will I need to stop for smoko?

Taking breaks on a long ride is awesome. You can pop in to the bakery and get a danish. Clip across the linoleum in the petrol station and get a pie. Get a coffee. Take a thoughtful poo mostly naked with your bib shorts around your ankles. Break time is great!

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Sweet sweet pastry

When break time is not great is when break time is over and you have to get back on the bike. Too many minutes spent selecting a pastry delight in Brumby’s Bakery has let the blood flow back into your ‘down below’ and the numbness has dissipated. After 100kms in the saddle, trying to get comfortable on the seat again is futile. It feels like you’re sitting on top of that over stuffed ham roll you saw in the bakery cabinet, or perhaps that burning hot crusted up and calloused sausage roll with bits of meat hanging out the side that was flaking fragile bits of pastry onto the floor.

Limit your time spent in the bakery and make sure you get back on the bike before your circulation comes back, for fanny’s sake.

Happy Riding