Hello, people who still read this thing (mum)! Serious proposal: let’s end 2014 now and jump straight to 2015 WHICH SERIOUSLY CAN’T POSSIBLY BE ANY SHITTIER THAN THIS.
(BRB, knocking on all the wood).
Everyone in favour say yay, everyone against it is dead to me.
Here’s something that doesn’t suck, though: the amount of emails and messages I’ve received from both people I know and also people I’ve never met telling me how much they miss reading my ramblings on here. YOU GUYS, you’re the cutest. But don’t blame me (blame the people who upload all the full episodes of Come Dine With Me to YouTube, allowing me to binge-watch it like it’s an olympic sport).
To the surprise of absolutely no one at all, running four events in one month with a sprained ankle (including an ultramarathon in a cyclone) ended up running me to the ground (potentially the worst unintentional pun I’ve ever made but I’m not even going to bother with the backspace key).
Since we last spoke, as far as running is concerned, I’ve been doing approximately three tenths of fuck all, which makes a running blog something really hard to maintain.
I’ve done a handful of cool little runs (including a loop around Uluru which I’ll tell you all about another time) but nothing else really worth writing home about. In an ironic turn of events, the same doctor that kept telling me to take a break from running now tells me I need to start running more (BE MORE CONFUSING, I DARE YOU).
Among other plans (none of them being “learn some god damn moderation”), I’ve got a 60km ultra to run in December, followed by an attempt at the full Hillary Trail and then the 100km at the Tarawera Ultra in February. The glue that binds these three things together is the fact that I’m 100% sure that I am 100% unable to do any of them at this stage.
A mix of injuries, sickness and just overall not-being-bothered has led to the terrifying situation of a closet full of clean running clothes (and not a single sticky empty packet of Gu in sight). It all snowballed into not even wanting to talk about running because talking about running reminded me that I should be running but wasn’t (psychiatric students wanting to use me as a guinea pig for their experiences should totally email me).
So, since I don’t have much running to talk about, and while I re-learn to put injiji socks on properly again (only half-joking), let’s talk about my new area of expertise: not running.
I’m more useless than the g in lasagna when I’m not running but I’ll admit it has its benefits. I turned 30 less than a month ago and I’m old and wise now so, instead of looking at the negative in everything, I’m going to try this really neat exercise called looking on the bright side.
So what’s so great about not running? I’ll tell you.
You’re reminded of why you love to run
You know the whole “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” thing? It’s true. Not being able to run – for whatever reason – has reminded me of why I love running. Because I’ve been running way (way, way, way) less than before, I have a new sense of appreciation for every time I lace up my shoes and head out for a run. I don’t take any run for granted and, after such a long time not being able to do it, I have learned to appreciate every time I’m able to get out there, even if it’s just a boring 5k along the road.
There’s a lot of strength to be gained from stopping to recover
This long break from running came from, among other things, a long tradition of not listening to my body and running while injured. In the end, my body forced me to stop. So now I’ve learned that breaks are okay – they’re needed and they don’t mean you’re a loser (other things, however, do mean you’re a loser so I’d check for signs of stuff like enjoying movies with Nicole Kidman, wearing leggings as pants or being unable to distinguish between you’re and your). Sure, I’ve lost some fitness. But I’ve also gained strength. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve ventured out for runs expecting my body to be a lot less fit than it turned out to be. While I sat there eating tins of creamy rice (LIKE A LADY) thinking my muscles were slowly disintegrating, some of them were apparently getting stronger. I have since ran up hills (what you people call small inclines) that I always swore never to run up. This doing nothing thing works, people. Try it.
It’s ok to be gentle with yourself
Overall, I did lose a bit of my fitness in the last three months. But I’ve also learned to be kinder to myself. My body does what it can and I no longer push it to the very limit just to see if I can. I can’t be surprised when it breaks and doesn’t recover immediately. Instead of being an ungrateful little bitch, I’m thankful for everything my body can do, even if, at the moment, it isn’t as much as it was able to do before.
You start paying more attention to your body
One of the injuries that forced me to take a break was a back injury back in April. Every time I tried to run after that, I’d end up limping my way back home holding onto my own back to try to stop the pain (so sexy). I kept trying to straighten my back while running to stop it from hurting but nothing seemed to work (or at least not for more than a couple of minutes at a time). The first time I managed to run without my back hurting felt like a huge victory. Since then, I’ve learned to pay more attention to my posture and how each part of my body moves while I run. I may not have gained any speed but I feel smarter about my running.
You learn to calm the hell down
I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I love running. It’s kind of a thing. Not being able to run is, therefore, the opposite of my thing. My spare time, for a long time, was for running. Doing other things, like not-running, was never an option. Taking a break from running led to a bit of an identity crisis. What kind of runner am I if I’m not out there running? And what person is this if not a runner who runs? And why am I asking myself such stupid questions? Then I learned to relax. Taking a break is okay. Running is very much a part of my identity and a couple of months without my running shoes didn’t take that away.
If you’re smart, you’ll cross train instead of sitting on your ass eating biscuits and drinking beer for three months
I guess I’m a different kind of smart.
What I’m really saying is that, if you’re having to take a long break from running like I had to, the most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. Don’t be a hero, have another nap.