My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Exercising with a baby – The Wind Trainer

It’s a challenge to get exercise when you have a young baby. It’s not just because you can’t leave them to fend for themselves while you trot around the block for a run.

Has your body healed enough to exercise? Do you have the energy after getting up five times last night to feed them? Should you be tackling the pile of laundry or vacuuming the floor (that is looking rather gritty) instead of focusing on your fitness? Is it cruel to take them for a walk in the pram in the wind and rain?

I knew that to exercise I’d have to find a way to do it that did not involve leaving the house, so I bought a wind trainer to use with my bike.

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This is a wind trainer!

After some trial and error I have found the perfect method for a successful session on the wind trainer which I will share with you today. Below you will find the recipe for success, you can thank me later by sending me wine and cheese.

INGREDIENTS

  • Wind trainer – ordered online and held up due to duties tax which has turned in to a guilt tax at the amount you spent on it
  • Bicycle – best to have one with a filthy chain to match the rest of your filthy house
  • Large television – high-res so you can see details through sweaty squinting eyes
  • Table or shelf – at roughly the height of your top tube, wide enough to fit a baby on
  • Baby wrangling tools – i.e dummy, bottle, toys, a length of rope, your mum
  • Sleeping baby – (Do not use an awake baby, your recipe will be ruined)
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Example of an almost perfect set up

METHOD

1. Set up the wind trainer in front of the TV, lining up the cassette with the black smear of rubber you burned in to the carpet last time you tried to exercise on your bike.

HOT TIP! Set baby to sleep mode after you have set up your wind trainer to allow yourself three extra minutes of exercise.

2. Baby placement in relation to the bike is key if this recipe is to be a success. A good baby placement is to have their mouth within reach of your hand. When (not if, when) they cry you can easily put a bottle, dummy, or chain-grease covered finger into their mouth to placate them.

The best position is with baby sleeping parallel with your bike,  just out of range so that your knee doesn’t connect with their tiny infant body on the up stroke and fling them behind you. In this position it is easy to pick them up and dangle a sweaty breast into their mouth if they start to make screamy noises at you.

3. Put on a documentary about cycling, it should include doping, so pick any Tour de France race coverage. Watching people inject drugs into their butt cheeks will alleviate any parental guilt that you feel at putting yourself first and exercising when you think you should be cleaning, cooking, or doing baby related admin. Good on you for not injecting EPO in to your stretch mark-covered, saggy black underpants wearing, wobbly, sweaty ass cheeks. You’re going to earn a fitter bum-bum the honest way.

HOT TIP! Watch Icarus, Rodchenkov’s mother personally injected him with performance enhancing drugs. You aren’t doing any such thing to your precious baby, so while your kid might not win Olympic gold YOU might still win mother of the year!

4. Start the white noise of your pedalling BEFORE you turn on the TV to avoid any loud bangs that may activate the child’s startle reflex. If you can be bothered doing intervals, make sure that when you finish that hard minute of pedalling that you don’t clunk the gears changing them back down. This loud metal bang accompanied with your tired grunting activates the startle reflex in the baby, followed by the ‘waaaaah’ siren that is difficult to turn off without dismounting your bike.

5. If you begin to lose motivation, glance over at the baby’s head. Now look back at your bike seat, now back at the head. Your vagina has pushed out a thing bigger than the bike seat you’re sitting on, you’re a total bad ass! Superwoman,  if you laboured for hours then you can pedal a bike for five more minutes.

HOT TIP! If any sweat drips on to the baby, leave it there. Your child will learn from an early age what hard work tastes like. They have had almost every other possible bodily fluid of yours smeared on them so why not add this one to the collection?

If you begin to lose the will to live, looking at that sweet baby’s head will make you feel much better. You’ve already reproduced so your legacy will live on through the child if you don’t live to see the end of this wind trainer session.

 

 

 

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First the worst, second best, and last the golden princess!

Many people on the internets will tell you that the first trimester is terrible, the worst. They say that you will feel, and I quote, ‘fresh and full of energy‘ in trimester number two and that the third will be pretty terrible again.

In my experience, it gets better and better towards the end, this is why.

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Running and walking Korokoro stream at 36 weeks

As soon as I hit the third trimester I slowed down my exercise a lot, I started to swim more and counted my walking commute to work and back as exercise. Walking never use to tire me out but the fatigue was really noticeable in the last few weeks of carrying around a basketball.

I had expected to slow down, and it made me appreciate and value every single time I got out for a walk, run, swim or bike ride. Everything felt like a win and a huge achievement. I knew that it wasn’t much longer that I would be carrying around the basketball so I took time to appreciate being pregnant.

I tried to get to the pool regularly and eventually managed to get to the point where I could swim a kilometre. The last time I went swimming was when I had a stress fracture in my pelvis, it was hard. This time was a little easier and I felt a bit more at home having friends to swim with and Dougal the swim coach there smiling on the sidelines.

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8 months pregnant

Training for the Third Trimester

  • Longest run: 7km – at the 30 week mark, at 5.09 pace what a speed demon
  • Longest ride: 30km
  • Average weekly hours of exercise: 2 hours plus walking to commute
  • Biggest run week: 23km
  • Last run: a run/walk up Makara Peak at 38 weeks 5 days
  • Last Ride: 15km easy around the bays at 38 weeks 3 days
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My last ride, probably shouldn’t do one-handed selfies 38 weeks preggo on a bike

The best parts

I won a race! Behold my glorious shiny trophy!

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The victors returned with the silver trophy held high above their heads, and drank non-alcoholic caffeine free beverages with a low risk of listeria from it’s depths into the wee hours of the morning

It was won by the only means I could possibly win, on handicap. Apparently I owe the handicapper a beer but that has nothing to do with me beating my handicap time…

In the 5km race with my club Scottish Harriers I lined up to start right at the front of the pack with everyone else, then realised that I wasn’t quite in 18:30 shape and retreated to the back of the herd.  I walked and ran the first few kilometres then picked up the pace in the final km, it felt so great to run fast again! I ran 27:45 at 34 weeks pregnant.

We went on so many adventures, and each new place we went I would think about how cool it would be when we could come back with the tiny human and show it all to her for the first time.

 

The worst parts

Riding down Ngaio Gorge 33 weeks pregnant and thinking that I had broken the seat on my bike. Reaching down to see what was wrong, I realised that it was just the feeling of my gut resting on the bike seat. I avoided using my low bars after this!

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Stretching BB’s kit to the limit #noaero

Nothing was really too bad in trimester #3, although I did get to the point where I said very loudly, over a roast dinner that I was so damn sick of being pregnant. I could barely reach the plate over my protruding stomach, I felt tired and sore and just fed up with being big.

The baby must have been listening to me whine, and two hours later labour started.

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I’m really looking forward to returning to running and riding once I get more familiar with my new job, my new body and all the fabulous new running gear I plan on buying because my chest doesn’t fit into the old stuff.

NEW BABY NEW BOOBS NEW CLOTHES THIRD TRIMESTER IS THE BEST!

 


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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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Getting to know your groin- Pelvic injury #2

I’ve managed to get another pelvic injury just in time for summer!  I’d like everyone to get to know my groin even more intimately because it might help you out if you have the misfortune of getting these symptoms too.

It’s because of my injuries that I know any words with more than four letters, and I’d like to teach you about the latest one I have added to my repertoire, osteitis pubis! These two words have made me even more intoxicated by the exuberance of my own verbosity than I was when I learned how to spell phlegm in 3rd form.

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Me and my pelvis in happier times at the Auckland Marathon with my friend Emma

It took a few weeks of odd symptoms before I was in any real pain with this injury. When your stomach hurts during a run you have to determine if it is discomfort from an impending poo, period pain, or (aghast!) a serious injury! My first symptom was that I had sore abdominal muscles to the point that it hurt me to laugh, a grave issue for one so hilarious.

My adductors were getting really tight after running, and no amount of stretching would loosen them off, my legs just wanted to snap closed. I blame my excessive chaffing during the Auckland Half Marathon on these tight adductors.82651-Goldmember-tight-meme-toight-l-CAuh.png

On a long run one Sunday my groin area started to really hurt. I stopped to stretch and started to palpate the area with my finger tips, assuring my friends that I was not taking a break to masturbate. I shuffled back home in pain and cut the run short, something was definitely not right.

I went to see my physiotherapist Fiona and once I told her my symptoms she confirmed what I may or may not have been googling before my appointment-

OSTEITIS PUBIS- an overuse injury characterised by tissue damage and inflammation to the pelvis at the site where the two pubic bones join, resulting in sharp pain right down the centre of your fajita. It is caused by repeated trauma, such as running 140km a week, however, it is not uncommon for a specific incident to trigger the symptoms.

Possible causes of Osteitis Pubis- (taken from reputable medical source)

  • Skipping your scheduled Brazillian wax for two months and having a larger than usual amount of pubies on your pubis
  • Repeated trauma to the Pelvis including running 396km in a month, roundhouse kicking people to the face, and vigorous mating
  • Wearing one old shoe that has done 900km on your left foot and a brand new shoe on your right foot, for a few months before you realise it’s a bad idea to buy identical shoes
  • Running in reverse and falling backwards over the top of a park bench, landing hard on your PELVIS resulting in trauma.
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Resulting bruises from park bench bashing

I have a suspicion that it was the park bench incident that caused this injury, and the above bruises that hung around for so long that I bought new socks to match with them.

To make sure I got lots of tips for a speedy recovery I went to see the podiatrist who said that I need to strengthen my glutes, specifically my right one.

‘So exactly how weak are they, how much will I need to strengthen them?’

‘For the left one, ideally around 400%’

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Four H U N D R E D? Not like four? Ya sure about that?

I’ve been managing my injury by doing the following:

Cutting out all speed work

Taking a rest day if I have any pain whatsoever

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Buying new running gear. GOLD running gear.

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Running on soft surfaces

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Running for fun instead of racing

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Binge drinking the night before a race so that the urge to regurgitate my drive-thru McChicken is greater than my urge to run fast

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Aquatic jogging

I really dislike aqua jogging. The only thing good about it is watching people flailing about in the slow lane. Don’t get me wrong, I would look just as bad trying to move through water. But I’m not, I’m watching other people suck at it, and I will enjoy frantically paddling and barely moving, supported by my bright blue foam belt, bobbing around upright and superior amongst the elderly. You also need to have sorted out your two months of skipped brazillians if you are going to be wearing swimming togs.

Because I have been running for a few years now, I know my body and I know when something is not right. I know the difference between pain and discomfort, and in this case that has saved me from potential months off running because I went to the physio as soon as I was in pain. I am managing this injury well, and plan to be running a little bit over the summer then back in to high intensity and higher mileage before my friend Hinano gets too fit and steals back all my Strava CR’s (So April at the very latest!).

Hip -Hip Hooray for Pelvis recovery!