My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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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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Auckland Half Marathon, rugby etc.

OMG The Auckland Marathon! I just like did not know what to wear. I literally could not even pick which shorts made my butt look the best BECAUSE IT LOOKS GREAT IN ANYTHING. Butt really. I had trained hard for this event, and I had thoughtlessly dressed myself, in clothing, before each run so why was this any different. Because of the cameras of course!

I changed my outfit four times

I changed my outfit four times

On Sunday the 1st of November 2015, the whole of New Zealand was wide awake. At least that is how it seemed on my way to the start line of the Auckland Marathon. This race includes a half marathon, a 12km traverse and a 5km event and this year it also doubled as the New Zealand Marathon Championships. This was good news for me as it meant a lot of the faster runners had entered the championship event and I had a better chance of placing in the half. Thanks ladies!

It was Halloween the night before so zombie brides and sugar skulls were staggering about at 5am down near the waterfront. Irate, peroxide totally-sober-what-are-you-on-about women were screaming at bouncers that they ‘weren’t even pissed man you’re being a c***’ let me back in to the bar’. Sprinkle in a few piles of fresh and festive vomit, and a few thousand runners, dorky as always with skinny legs jutting out of shorts bouncing towards the ferry terminal and this completed the picture.

The ferry ride to the start line

The ferry ride to the start line

The atmosphere at the start line was unlike any other race I’ve been to. The majority of people were not warming up for the race using the traditional method of jogging, stride outs and dynamic stretches; they were sitting down fixated on the big screen playing the Rugby World Cup final, leaping in to the air at regular intervals with arms flailing, roaring excitedly at the screen. The Kiwis were taking on the Aussies, Ma’a Nonu had just scored and the runners erupted in to the air with cheers. The two shits I gave about rugby had been left in a portaloo shortly after I got to Devonport so I went off to warm up and left the fans to their game.

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Dan kick the ball kick the ball Dan ball Dan ball.

Warming up near the star line were all the elite athletes who look like thoroughbreds, meanwhile you struggle to adjust your shorts and your undies and try to look like you know what you’re doing here. What was going through my head: Should I have worn these shoes? I haven’t raced in ASICS, are they too heavy? Too pink? Oh my god I’m wearing pink and red. What if I chafe really badly? Should I be this far towards the front? The girl next to me is wearing makeup, ha, what a dick. I wonder if my lipstick will stay on for the whole race *smoldering pout*.

Camille Buscombe warming up

Camille Buscomb warming up before going on to whinny the race

Kia rite! Kia rite! Kia mau! Hī!

The gun went, the legs went, the fast people went out fast, the eager people went out fast, the person with the pink shoes and red lipstick stumbled forward, right had on left wrist to start the Garmin, 21.1km to go!

The first part of the course is undulating. I thought it would be easy as I run a lot of hills but it was neigh. As we came up to the first photographer I was running behind a guy wearing a camouflage Morph Suit, and right next to a bronzed Amazon goddess with abs and a long blonde ponytail. Like hell am I being in a photo with these two freaks! I hid behind another runner until the danger had passed, race photos are never flattering but are even less so when you are running with a model and a guy who is taking the piss but running faster than you.

My legs felt tight for the first 12km but I made myself stick to around a 4.11 pace. People kept passing me but that was fine, you have to run your own race and not worry about what everyone else is doing. I knew I would pass them later anyway (Their lipstick game was non-existent and their shoes weren’t fly AF).

Running up the Harbor Bridge

Running up the Harbour Bridge

When I saw the Harbour bridge I got a massive runboner, finally one big hill and not all these silly undulations! Somewhere a few kms back the All Blacks had won the World Cup, oh how exciting. I was focused now, Morph Suit guy was in my sights so it was time to catch him and redeem myself from the shame of being beaten by someone in costume. I had a gel that I likely didn’t need but things that taste like lollies make me happy and therefore I run better.

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Very Athlete. Much photogenic. Wow.

The final 5km is flat and fast, I could see three females in the race ahead of my, ponytails swinging, beckoning to be scalped. I caught them in the last 1500m and ran at the pace I wished I could run the entire race at, trying to focus on my form and not smearing my lipstick.

As I came up to the finish line I could see my personal best time tick over the time display ahead of me, I crossed the line in 1.28.06. If the world hadn’t stopped turning for 1 minute and 6 seconds of overtime in the RWC I would have run a PB for sure. Hopefully that ball game doesn’t clash with my run game again in the future.

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I placed 9th in a field of 2,810 which makes me sound like a hero because that is heaps of people, like almost five times the number of friends I have on Facebook. Full results for the race are here.

FEELINGS ARE YAY

I feel really happy with how I ran this race, my splits were pretty even, I ran 11 seconds slower than my personal best time and finished feeling (and looking) great. I haven’t raced a half marathon since June 2014 as I got a pelvic stress fracture shortly after that race. It feels good to be back at what was my peak level of fitness and I’m grateful for all the help I had from people to get back on track. Time to run faster now!

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Super kawaiiiiii

I’d like to say a huge thank you to my thighs for not chafing, my lovely friend Emma for looking after me all weekend, Ayesha for being in a lot of post-marathon pain which made me feel better about my own situation, and ASICS for letting me try out these pink shoes! But please make them red in future.


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50 Shades of Chafe

During my long run one Sunday we (me and my all Girl Power running posse) talked about how sometimes we get tooted at, yelled and whistled at by men when we are out on training runs. I personally don’t get this often, because when I run my face looks like this;

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You do not whistle at this face, motherfucker.

I often wonder what men’s intentions are when they interrupt a woman’s run to express what I did assume was their appreciation for what awesome runners we are. What exactly are they trying to achieve with that wolf whistle? What would their ideal outcome be from the sleazy phrases yelled from their vehicles as they speed past? I’ll tell you what they would LOVE to happen as a result of that cat call, because I’ve had hundreds of kilometres to dream up this fantasy.

Get your chamois cream and some tissues, this is going to be titillating.


 FIFTY SHADES OF CHAFE

Scene 1: The Esplanade

She had been running for almost two hours. The sky was blooming from a dusky purple into shades of orange and pink as the sun painted the road with a shimmering gold, making the icy rain of the early morning seem a world away. Two hours of feet pounding the roads, thinking about the pain in her turgid thighs, about why she was training and why finishing this run was so important in achieving her goals. Two hours on the grind sweating, hungry and fatigued, just 40 minutes to go.

Right now she wanted nothing more than some cold water, a hot shower, three large stuffed crust pizzas and a guy in a patchy grey Toyota van to yell ‘Hey ya wee skank, nice ass! Come and run over here!’

IMG_1939 She really enjoyed being thought of as a sex object by complete strangers. She thought it strange when people did not whistle at her, or comment on how much they would like to smack dat as she ran past. Her wish was granted. He rounded the corner and saw her running ahead of him. Ponytail swinging in a way that didn’t specifically say ‘Fuck off, I’m running and I don’t care about anything you have to say.’ He saw the chance for romance and yelled at the beautiful stranger.

His wolf whistle cut through the air like the the hem of a pair of Canterbury rugby shorts through an inner thigh that someone forgot to coat in chamois cream. ‘Hey ya wee skank!’ She turned her head, her sweaty ponytail whipping in to her eyes and blinding her for a moment,Hark, I see a voice! Now will I to the curb and I can see my knight in shining Japanese Import.’ IMG_1940 What a dream come true! All those hours of training outside with the goal that someone would drive past and deem her worthy of a whistle were worth it. ‘Where does this gentleman live?‘ she asked him. She carefully listened to him recite his street over the rumble of his deteriorating exhaust and changed course to finish the run at the home of her new love interest.


Scene 2: The doorstep

She bounded up the front path, which unfortunately for her consisted of 250 stairs (the story is set in Wellington) and collapsed quivering and dripping in to his waiting arms on the doorstep. Their eyes met, both sets of them very bloodshot but for entirely different reasons. She had needed to poo for about an hour so ran past him inside to destroy his bathroom while he rolled a durrie on the porch. She emerged from the bathroom, having pulled her underwear out of the crevasse it had firmly wedged itself in at the 12th kilometre on her run, she was ready for anything. A bead of sweat tickled down her neck with anticipation, and stopped in when it reached the rest of the crusted up salty sweat that had formed alluring white lines on her collar bone.

She traced a sticky Gu covered finger across his undefined jaw line and chins and over his lips, letting him taste the Chocolate Outrage. She hoped that this would give him the stamina to endure what was about to happen. He moaned softly and screwed up his face at the taste of the Gu, but wasn’t deterred, and lead his sore and salty friend in to the house, and in to his bedroom.

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Love potion


Scene 3: Toyota Man’s Bedroom

The smell that seeped out of the room when he opened his bedroom door was rancid, but thankfully after running 25 kms the only thing she could smell was her armpits. He pulled her towards him and kissed her passionately, underneath the Performance Car Magazine centre folds that adorned the walls. She bit his lip, not playfully, but really hard because she was fucking hungry and there was nothing to eat in the entire house (she looked after she had desecrated the bathroom).

‘Why does he have such an unnerving effect on me? She wondered. His over-whelmingly plain looks maybe? The way his eyes seem to look at me as a piece of ass rather than an athlete? The way he can roll a ciggie while driving and steer with his knees?’

He sat back on his sheetless bed to watch her undress. She unlaced her shoes and peeled off her socks, slowly so that the toenail that was about to fall off didn’t get caught and tear off. She ran her fingers along the edge of her shorts, and with one swift motion slipped them off, twisted them in her hands and wrung the sweat out of them on to his carpet. Throwing the shorts at his face so that he couldn’t see, she then started to remove her sweaty crop top.

The Chastity Crop by ADIDAS

The Chastity Crop by ADIDAS

Fifteen minutes and several increasingly limp cigarettes later, he watched her with fascination as she struggled to get the crop top over her shoulders and boobs and off over her head. He stepped in to help, and on the count of three he pulled and flung backwards on to the bed, crop top in hand and a fresh wave of armpit smell in his nostrils.

She stood before him, letting him take in every inch of her athletic body, from her messy hair that hadn’t yet had it’s weekly brushing, to her the tips of her mostly intact pretty red toenails. “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” She painfully hobbled towards him, in a sexy way (pain is sexy in this story) and together they collapsed on to the bed in a smelly embrace.


Scene 4: Stuffed and with extra sausage

The tightness in her hamstrings meant that the options for love-making positions would be limited. He purred at her trying to imitate the engine of his Toyota; the vehicle for their love. Her stomach growled back at him and her eyes glinted with the murderous shine of a fitness freak who has been deprived of food for too long.

There was a sudden knock at the door. She grabbed one of the five well worn Pantera t-shirts from the floor to preserve her modesty (and mask the sweaty smell) and tip-toed towards the door. The front door swung open and there with the sun beaming in on him just like the moment Simba is thrust in to the sunrise by Rafiki in front of the Lions at Pride Rock, stood the Pizza delivery boy. The three stuffed-crust pizzas had arrived! Simba-Rafiki-the-lion-king-25952753-800-400 She was in ecstasy. The warmth of the pizza enveloped her, the smell made her hungry for more. She nibbled the edge of a succulent oily slice, then devoured it all with ferocity, barely stopping to breathe, and losing sense of time and space. For those fifteen minutes it was like time stood still, and the only things that existed in the universe were those three pizzas and her.  After she had finished she lay on the carpet, panting, with strings of chizz dangling from her lips and chin.

This could not have ended any better, she swore on her Nike Zoom Pegasus shoes that from this day forth she would ALWAYS reciprocate the affections of Men that yelled to her from their vans, because they probably had raging run boners too.


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There is no such race as a non-race

Word of advice, don’t enter a race with the idea that you are ‘not going to race it’.

You’re either bitching out and making an excuse to go slow, or you are a delusional post-injury runner who thinks that they learned something from seven months off and will take things easy now.

THE NON-RACE

Turn up to the Scottish Waterfront 5km race with the idea that you will be a supporter. You’re the Captain of the women’s team now so you need to be present, and clapping, and smiley. Pay $8 for the entry, to you know, give the club some extra cash because you are such a good person.

You’re going to be sensible today, you didn’t do the 16km that was on your training plan because you are still getting over the horrendous cold that put you out of action for two weeks. (The cold that lasted for two weeks because you kept trying to run before you were better, and running in the rain, and just being an idiot in general).

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A demonstration of my new and improved running form after two sick weeks

Oh look, you’re already in your running gear! Co-inkydink? I think not. Let’s just jog it you say to yourself, you can feel your eye twitch because you know you’re lying. Coach Kevin says that if you must run, it is best to run with the 25 minute plus group so that you aren’t tempted to race.

With each minute that passes before the start time you adjust your goal pace to be a second faster, arriving at a still quite sensible pace of 4.45 per km. Sensible for the runner recovering from a chest cough, green snot and stress fracture? Yeah sure!

You don’t warm up because you don’t need to before this non-race, because you are going to jog it.

This is the sort of logic you are using

This is the sort of logic you are using

Set the scene: You are standing amongst a gangle of 17 year old boys at the start line. Lanky awkward boys who look built for running because they haven’t discovered beer yet. All wear size 12+ shoes that none have ever learned to tie properly. One minute to go until the start time. One of the lankies starts to count down from fif-ty-nine, fif-ty-eight, fif-ty-seven, thankfully his voice breaks in to a high pitched squeal and he stops the countdown.

Up until someone says Go, you have made good decisions.  That magic word go. The ‘Go on throw caution to the wind!’ kind of Go. Go NUTS.

Upon hearing GO! we all speed off through the first kilometre, weaving through meandering crowds on the Wellington waterfront. The plan of doing the sensible 4.45 pace isn’t 4.45, it’s 4.20. That is still ok you think, I can hold this pace, it’s still cruising…

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Views on course of the Scottish Waterfront 5km race

The lankies start to fade after five minutes. You stick to an even pace and cruise past them, making sure to run as close as possible up behind them to let them know that you make angry breathing noises when you run fast. This is where it becomes hard to stick to an even pace, not physically, mentally. In front of you are 12 more lankies, clomping size twelves along the pavement and fading fast. All have targets on their backs, ‘Hey there, if you speed up to 4.05 you can pass me! If you do an even 4minute you’ll pass me too! Faster faster faster!

Your ego takes control of your legs and you now have tunnel vision where you can only see targets ahead and nothing. Else. Matters. You hear Hinano’s voice in your head ‘Run with your balls!’ Balls to the wall, you give it 110%.

The familiar feeling creeps in, the lactic acid in your quads, the spit gathers at the corners of your mouth, you drive hard for the finish line and with a final burst of speed make it past the orange cones. You sit on the ground heaving and panting for a split second before realising that you jogged that race. So you stand up, breathe normally, and walk calmly over to talk to Coach Kevin about your future jogging plans.

My final time for the 5km was 21.17, a good 100 seconds off my PB but because I ran down all those stinky teenagers and I feel like it was a good run. An ego boosting run. I have been back in to running for two months now after seven months off so anything is a win!


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The original running buddy

Ten years ago (gulp) I was embarking on my final year of high school. I set clear goals for my exams during the year, and a few for ‘Where I see myself in ten years time’. The only one of the long term goals I remembered was ‘I want to have a dog’.

I do have a dog, her name is Ellie and she was my very first running companion.

Me and my main girl

Me and my main girl

When your human siblings turn you down, the family dog will never decline the opportunity for an adventure. Off down the dusty gravel lane we would go, past the wool shed with it’s exciting smorgasbord of poo smells, climbing over wooden gates, (or squeezing through wire fences) scattering sheep, re-capturing escaped lambs, rolling in fragrant dead ones, and running all the way out to the concrete bridge. Conveniently located at the bottom of a large hill, this bridge signified the halfway point and an opportunity for one of us to jump in the creek to then sprinkle the other with a cool refreshing mist.

When the urge to explore took over (or we thought we saw a possum) we would run past the bridge off the road and up a hill, along the tiny single tracks worn away by sheep plodding in single file, through matagouri and red tussocks and stop to take it in. Sitting there, tongues out and panting we’d take in the everything and the nothingness that is the Northern Southland landscape. I remember thinking ‘It’s just me here, wow’ as I looked across ploughed fields, and steep tussocked hill faces that stretch to the pinnacle of rocks; beyond the skyline would be another farm with more hills to explore. At that moment it was just Ellie and me; no traffic, no people, the only interruption an unenthusiastic solo ‘Baaaaah’ from an old ewe.

Nokomai Station 4WD Safari

(Photo taken from Nokomai Station- By Shellie Evans)

This is the moment when I think I started to love running. Although I didn’t run regularly again for another 6 years, that feeling is the same now as it was then.

Ellie is getting old now, and can’t run because of her arthritis. She got really sick six months ago and couldn’t go to the toilet, it was around the same time I had a stress fracture in my pelvis (from running). At the time the thought of losing the ability to run and losing my doggy friend was a bit overwhelming. When Mum txt me to say that the dog had finally taken a shit it was the best thing I had heard in months, she was going to be ok.

I have a few new running companions now. None of them chase possums (although they all have strong looking teeth, and could take one down if they wanted to), and I yell at them when they try to roll in rotting dead animals. All of them are just as enthusiastic as Ellie is to be outside running with friends. Having friends to run with is great, it keeps you motivated and it makes the time pass a lot quicker if you have someone to talk to on a long Sunday run.

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Look at all my friends!

This is how I found my running buddies

  • Stalk people on Twitter that talk about running. Meet them in a remote carpark in the dark at 7am and run for 90 minutes, instant friends!
  • Offer to walk someone’s dog. Every day. And for three hours on a Sunday. Make sure you feed the dog so it doesn’t get too skinny.
  • Join your local harriers club. If your favourite colour is yellow or the Lion is your spirit animal you can’t go past Scottish Harriers in Wellington.
  • Hitting people with a stick you found in the pine trees doesn’t motivate them to run. Try a softer approach. Like rotting fruit or small stones.
  • Talk to people at running events, like the girl who passed you going up that big  hill, offer to teach her some sort of skill while learning all her hill running secrets so you can beat her next time.

Who do you like to run with? Do they have nice teeth?


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You’re Crowning! I can see a head!

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

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Bambi running through the forest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Squeeeeeeeee!

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

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

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

http://instagram.com/p/zDgytkDqRF/

 

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

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

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


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Breaking a Six Month Drought

How do you get your mojo back after a dry spell?

When it’s dry, it’s dry for ages. Often the only thing you need to get a good stiff run under your belt is a slightly less desirable initial run, just to break the drought and dust things off.

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How do you define a drought?

A drought is an extended period when a runner experiences a deficiency in his or her run supply. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 3 days depending on existing levels of hypochondria and addiction.  It can have a substantial impact on the fitness and mental state of the affected runner. The definition may depend on you, and what you class as a ‘normal’ number of times to be sneaking off for a quick run. Some of us do it twice or more a day, others once a week, and the odd few save it for special occasions like Christmas and New Years (those fitness resolutions are great!). I think we can all agree, that if you haven’t wet your end of your nose with sweat from a run in six months, you are experiencing a drought.

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What a run drought looks like on Strava

During a dry spell you can feel quite left out of the action, because you are. You wake up feeling squeaky-clean on a Sunday morning, and you’ve got no juicy stories for your workmates on Monday about the sweet route you conquered in the weekend. If it’s been a while since you’ve been out for an all-morning sweat fest you might be feeling like it’s never going to happen again.

This hot weather we’ve been having in Wellington gets everyone in the mood for it. Bronzed bare legs and a warm 120km/h breeze blowing through your hair like a Pantene commercial, the conditions are perfect for some carefree summer loving. I’m here to help you to get back in to the game, to end your drought, and regain your prowess on the streets, the track and the trails.

Let’s put another notch on your GPS watch and break the dry spell, let’s get you a RUN.

  1. Take stock of your appearance

What typically happens to your body during a six month drought?

You gain or lose weight, you wear things that aren’t made of spandex and regain a sense of style, your hair is clean, and you have all your toenails! You have had lots of spare time while you haven’t been chasing trails to work on things like flossing your teeth and getting hair cuts, there will have been some big changes. You need to reverse all of that.

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Consider changing your hair, making it more aero. If you have acquired a fringe since being out of action this just has to go, they are not good for running. Have you shaved off your beard trying to look clean and fancy? Grow that pube-face back, especially if you’re running off road, you need somewhere to keep mementos of your big running dates.

The boobs/moobs? I’m sorry but they need to go. Also not aero. Once you get back on the horse you will have plenty of time to run off your titties, but if you want to start the process now then get your bum on to a spin bike. I recommed the RPM classes at Les Mills to get your lungs cardio ready before launching back in to that first run.

2.Get ‘Interested’ again

If you find yourself home alone (again) eating pizza and watching the Susan Boyle X Factor audition (again) to make yourself believe that the Ugly Duckling story can come true, just stop right now and put away the pizza (keep the tissues out though).

If you have lost that burning desire that once had you at it twice a day, try to reignite that passion. The best quality ‘inspirational’ material is on the websites you can subscribe to, like Flotrack. Sign up to the site, grab a sock, some bodyglide, a strong shoelace, and any other running paraphernalia that might get you inspired (I like to wear my race medals when I watch running videos), and settle back for an evening with just you and the screen.

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Runboner material from Flotrack featuring Mary Cain

The more you watch, the more you will get inspired and want to get a slice of the action for yourself.

  1. Have realistic expectations

You’re not going to get that perfect run on the first go, so just stop with the idealism and focus on what is attainable for you right now to get this first run out of the way. Have an open minded approach when it comes to choosing your run.

What you are saying:

‘I need to get new shoes, it has to be a sunny day, I need perfect form, my favourite flavour energy gel, and the scenery has to be so good that I try to fumble a photo with my iPhone and run and eat my gel at the same time.’

What you’ll say if you really want a route. to run:

‘Stuff it, I’ll run in my chucks and skinny jeans on the damp grass after eating a turkish kebab at 2am’

Don’t wait for that perfect run to come along, you have to slay a few dragon runs to get back to prancing like a prince or princess.

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It won’t be pretty. Nice one on the ponytail hole Lululemon.

  1. Take every opportunity

Drought buster- A person you normally wouldn’t run with but whom you decide to bang. out a run with anyway because you haven’t been on one for too long i.e. The person who breaks the dry spell.

“I heard you had a run with Emily. That girl is suspect. What were you thinking?” 
“Yeah, she’s not quality. She runs 12 minute kms. I’m not proud, but what can I say? She was my drought buster.”

All your friends have continued training and you’ve been left in the dust. They are all married to their training programs, and can’t just do casual runs any more. You need to meet new people, ones who are going to have an attainable pace that you can see yourself conquering without too much effort.

Be wary of the running virgin. It may be tempting to pick up someone who hasn’t run before to help you break your drought. You might fluke it and have an amazing run with one of these people, but it’s never good having to comfort them the next day when they are in pain and walking with a swagger because of you. On the plus side, your technique can’t look bad to them, because they don’t know any better!

Other potential drought-busters

Online meetups. These are often in a group though, so if you’ve been flying solo for a few months, going straight in to a group situation can be intimidating. Some people don’t like group runs, but if you’re serious about breaking the dry spell then doing it in a group means you have not just one but up to ten new potential future running buddies! From these ten you may find the one that you can go steady with on long run Sundays. I recommend our local group Wellington Running Meetup, they are fantastic.

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Wellington Running Meetup. It gets weird.

THE ONE

When the golden opportunity finally presents itself, try to remain calm. Take it slowly or it will be over within a couple of minutes. Start off at an easy pace to get in to the rhythm, if it feels uncomfortable then slow it right down. Listen to some Lionel Ritchie if it will help to set the pace.

Expect the unexpected, it may feel like you have never done it before if it’s been a while but practice makes perfect right? The shock of that initial run is over, now it’s time for you to get in to training!

Describe using as many multi-syllabled adjectives as possible, what your first time (or first time in a long time) was like. Share with the group, go on.


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Recovering from a stress fracture Act II

Have you ever been really drunk when it wasn’t quite appropriate, and convincingly tried to act sober?

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COULD AN INJURED PERSON DO THIS?

You manage to convince yourself of your sobriety immediately, (Pah, thish ish totally buhlievibble) but others who are not suffering the effects of overindulging, can see right through the facade.

I had been employing a similar tactic to this when visiting my perfectly able bodied Sports Physician Ruth; trying to look un-injured. She must have been well use to the scent of strapping tape and ibuprofen, last night’s pool chlorine still seeping from my pores while I attempt to walk in a straight line with my floppy drunk leg then stand on one foot, roll over, and beg.

I went to see Ruth for my check up last week, sixteen weeks after I first got my stress fracture. We sat in her office, with pictures of New Zealand Olympic Athletes covering almost every wall, staring out at me with their He Man quads and their exclusive Olympic Ring tattoos. Ruth performed the sobriety test for what must have been the fifth time now, I wasn’t sure I would nail it, but here goes.

Stand on one foot and sit down, left, then right 

Jump up and down on your left foot, then your right

Lie on your back while I poke your Pelvis and rotate your leg/hip area.

She handed me my report card, it’s a pass! Then came the prize,  ‘You can start your walk to run program, but I want you to see the podiatrist first to check your running style’. I bounced out to reception and booked in to see the podiatrist, the closest appointment they had was the 15th of December. Nobody can contain a run boner for that long. Nobody.

I phoned Mr Podiatry myself and got an appointment for the upcoming Sunday. I would need to run to be able to have him see my running style. A PARADOX! Don’t run until he sees you run. Run a little bit beforehand so he can see how you run and you’re not totally gammy from four months off. What to do?

This is what the back to running program FUN looks like!!

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The instructions are to do each level of exercise four times, with a day in between each runwalk. Under those instructions this program will take me ten weeks, which seems like an incredibly long time. Anyone who has trained me or trained with me will tell you straight away that I am terrible at sticking to a program, but with this one I am going to break (or heal) the mold.

Ben came with me for runwalk #1. We drove out to Owhiro Bay, one of my favourite places to run and did a few stretches before starting off on the 9 minute walk. As the timer got closer to 9 I was counting down the seconds until I could start that glorious golden minute of running, 8.57, 8.58, 8.59, RUN!

Owhiro Bay

Owhiro Bay

Wind not quite in my hair, legs feeling like they have aged while they have been in storage, over thinking every step, trying to enjoy that little burst of activity before the sixty seconds ended and I was back to a walk. I was really excited about starting a new stage of rehab, and I still am but with each step you have a new ascent, you start from the bottom and you climb all over again until you can see the next peak.

I still have a long way to go to get back to where I was in July, but look how far I’ve come already!

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My recovery calendar

I have been marking this calendar off with my Sharpie each morning pre-porridge/paper/poo, and watching as the days and weeks fall behind, the bad days disappear and the milestones keep coming.

  • Crutches are gone after 8 weeks
  • I can swim using my legs, and I can Aqua jog, cycle, you name it!
  • I CAN RUN! I run across the road to beat the lights, I chase people, I run in to the ocean
  • I don’t cry any more, not about being injured anyway. Just over tear jerking X-Factor performances on Youtube

The fact that I can walk 2 km to the pool, swim with my new legs then walk all the way back is a pretty big deal. No more Taxi rides, no hobbling to catch the bus and no more crutches skidding on the slick tiles in the pool. Every day I’ll get a little stronger, and eventually I’ll be back and chasing those PB’s, and having adventures on trails again with my running buddies who I have been missing (and have surely been missing me) so much!


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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?