Zen and the Art of (Not) Running

If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know I’m currently out of action on the running front. It’s been over a month since I last ran, and around 8 weeks since the injury made its (omni)presence known. About seven sessions of physiotherapy, a few sports massages and endless, endless exercises to strengthen my glutes, calves and core, and I’m still no closer to being run ready, ‘another two weeks’. I heard that four weeks ago. Going slightly mad.

The problem, they say, with ITB injuries is that its difficult to pin point just one cause.  It turns out I’m pretty riddled with all sorts of odd habits, badly aligned hips, little flexibility in my ankles, etc etc, the list goes on and on. Just as one thing gets sorted, something else flares up. If I’m to run again safely, I need to impact-proof my joints, by building up the *right* muscles.

I am now torn between ignoring all good advice (they’re just quacks) and just tearing off regardless, OR quitting running altogether (I’m not cut out for this sporting malarky). Because anything in-between requires frustrating, tears inducing, mind numbing work.

I have never been the patient sort. If I am not able to do something perfectly immediately I lose interest fast. This happened with my ‘passion’ for guitar when I was 16, my flirtation with Kung Fu when I was 19, Kick Boxing at 22 and then Wing Chung at 25. There was even a 6 month period when I was obsessed with Krav Maga. Nothing stuck. I told myself, I was too uncoordinated, unfit, too short or too old. I also told myself I wasn’t the ‘sporty type’ to justify my lack of perseverance, which in reality, was just a lack of discipline and more than a bit of plain old fashioned laziness. But I had done a really good job of convincing myself otherwise.

So when I found I could actually finish a 5K run without keeling over, I was astonished. Here was something I could do. Just by putting in a bit of extra work every few days, I built myself up to running 10K, then a half marathon. And just to prove it wasn’t fluke, I ran another one. I had finally broken through that warped image I had of myself as ‘unsporty’. I could do this!

Other mad things happened; people started asking my advice, ‘you’re really into fitness what do you think?’ or ‘I’ve just started running, how long before I can run your kind of distances?’. I had never dreamed I’d ever be referred to as a ‘fitness freak’ or ‘running nerd’. I was over the moon, regardless of whether they were compliments or otherwise.

Then this happened. I literally limped through the Royal Parks. It wasn’t fun anymore. My body stopped doing what I wanted it to. It hurt. A lot. I’ve had to stop and recover properly. My confidence has taken a pretty serious knock, and it was pretty fledgling to begin with. I now find myself contending with all the old mantras. ‘What did you expect?’, this old voice says, ‘you’re not sporty. Who are you kidding? You’re not built for this. Stop pretending. Sit on the sofa and just give up. Maybe try aqua aerobics instead’. Full on pity-party going on in my head.

Luckily, I have a very positive physiotherapist, who is patient when I am throwing a strop, and a few great running friends who can’t wait to get out there again, no matter if I have to take it very slowly.  Come Christmas I am crossing my fingers I should be clocking up the mileage. In the meantime, there’s aqua (!)

A gem of wisdom captured on the Portobello Market

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