super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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The upsides of not running

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.

life's a piece of shit when you look at it

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.

that's a god damn bitch of an unsatisfactory situation

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.

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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.

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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.

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Free advice: Don’t get injured seven weeks before an ultramarathon

Lying with your leg raised above your heart definitely shouldn’t be a part of your ultramarathon training.

Let’s get something out in the open now: I’m not great at dealing with huge amounts of pain. Or minimal amounts of pain. Or mild barely-noticeable discomfort. If you’ve run with me before you know I spend approximately 50 to 65% of the run complaining about different aspects of it. No one runs with me and wonders whether I’m enjoying it or not. They always know I’m not. And they know so because I provide them with extensive commentary on the many ways the run sucks.

But even I will admit that sometimes I do exaggerate and not all runs suck. My run on Sunday, however, sucked on a large number of levels. A plethora of levels, if you want to be a snob about it.

You see, I was really looking forward to coming here and making you all jealous about how I live within a half hour ferry ride of a 600 year old volcano where I can go to do my run/complaining about running combo whenever I want. That’s precisely what I set off to do early on Sunday morning.

But then, PLOT TWIST. Six kilometres into the whole thing, as we were making our way back down from the summit, I failed to notice one of the steps and fell pretty spectacularly, flat on my face on a boardwalk, thus ending a good, hmmm, let’s see, week and a half of running without any sort of pain.

The few moments after the fall went something like this: massive crying fit, screaming, some more crying, another decent amount of screaming, wondering how in the actual hell I’m going to get down from that volcano, more crying, wondering how long until I can run again, a bit of screaming, wondering if I’ll be able to make the start line at Tarawera, another little cry, wondering why the Beatles broke up, some more crying (only partially over the Beatles) and a bit more screaming.

And that was just the initial 40 seconds.

(I know that’s a lot of detail but I need to make sure my future biographer has enough to work with so bear with me here.)

Forsyth, who was running behind me and clearly has his priorities very well defined, paused my Garmin immediately (and managed to do so while I was screaming so badly it sounded like a Rebecca Black song). Steve, who runs downhill at about 460kph (give or take a few hundred kph) was so far ahead he couldn’t hear me yelling in despair (unlike everyone else on the North Island and potentially the good people in Australia as well). A couple of hikers caught up with us while I was busy fighting for my life right there on the ground (ok, sort of) and the man walked down to find Steve. He ran into a DOC worker with a truck who walked up to meet us and offered to take us back down to the wharf. I would have hugged him with relief but, at this stage, I was still lying on the boardwalk.

I'mok

To cut a super-long story slightly shorter but still fairly long, Forsyth piggy-backed me out of the track (he’ll tell you he “carried me down a volcano” and, while not entirely untrue, you should know the truck was about 200m from where I fell) and the lovely man from DOC took us down to wait for the ferry. Since it was only 10:30AM and only losers who smash themselves on the ground need to be taken off the island so early, it was just the three of us on the ferry. The good part: according to what the man announced over the microphone thingy, should anything go wrong, they had about 75 life jackets per person on board for us and the guy suggested we could “throw them all out in the water at once and build a raft”. Instead, we spent the journey back eating cake and drinking beer while Steve and Forsyth worried about the sort of impression I was going to cause in the emergency room, with a potential broken foot and smelling of booze. But I don’t think the emergency room is the place to worry about making good first impressions so I went ahead and drank it anyway.

The hospital part of this whole adventure had some good Kiwi moments, like the nurse deciding that I didn’t need to have my blood pressure checked after all, because the machine was out of battery. “Yeah, you look alright”. I’M NOT GODDAMN ALRIGHT. I’M IN A WHEELCHAIR.

But I actually kept my cool about that. What really pissed me off was when she asked me to describe what happened:

Vera – So I was running down from the summit of Rangitoto…
Nurse (writing down on a piece of paper) – Okay, so walking down…
Vera – No. Not walking. Running.
Steve – Well… It was more like jogging, really.
Vera – I WAS NOT JOGGING.

LIES

(I was probably jogging.)

I tried to describe things a bit better in the form they gave me to fill out but, once again, Steve wasn’t much help. When the form asked me to tick the box describing the type of activity and I had to choose between things like “work”, “leisure” or “sport”, I went to put my tick on “sport”, to what Steve said: “I’d say leisure. You weren’t being that sporty.” This is the same man who also told me my description of the accident on the hospital form was “no Hemingway” and told me to “break a leg” when they wheeled me into the room for an x-ray.

[NON-SPONSORED AD: Running friends available. Free to a good home.]

Anyway. I got myself a nice little ligament sprain on my right ankle and have had to learn to walk with crutches for the first time in my life. I’m not a fast learner and my “good foot” has banged on one of the crutches twice so far. I can’t even hold a cup of coffee and stand upright at the same time so that’s all of my good party tricks taken away in one go. Showering has also been interesting, since one of my feet can’t touch the ground (come on, don’t act like that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever told you here). So, before you ask, recovery is going swell.

The only bit of good news I have is that my first physio appointment today went pretty damn good. I got told I was doing “everything right”, which is something I don’t hear very often (or, you know, ever) and the nice physio lady told me I can maybe probably potentially go for a really short run in a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks from now will be a month from my ultramarathon so you do the maths to figure out the square root of how screwed I am.

It’s bad, you guys. I’m Keanu Reeves-sad. My last post here bragged about running over 70km in 48h and I’ve now spent the last 48h relying on people to help me do pretty much everything. I’m not the most elegant person on crutches and I’ve realised I wouldn’t exactly be a role model if I ever had the misfortune of having a permanent physical disability.

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To top it all off nicely, I finally met Julian last night while he was up in Auckland for work. Few things are worse than getting injured and catching up with a runner who’s just been given the ok to run for the first time that day after 7 weeks of injury. But whatever, it’s this sort of adversity that builds character, amirite? And also, I hopped my way into the brew bar (hopped, hops, Jesus, I’m like some kind of pun genius right now), drank three delicious beers and forgot about the pain for a bit.

But now the pain is back. And I’m still lousy on crutches. I continually bang my leg on them and continue to insist on trying to carry stuff in my hands while using the crutches which means everything I touch becomes damaged in some way, like some kind of ridiculous inverse Midas effect.

I know what you’re thinking. Poor SGG, let me send her some get well soon cookies and some speedy recovery chocolate.

Yes, you should definitely do that.


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Pain-free running and other weird stuff that happened today

I ran this morning. I know it sounds like no big deal especially if you’re on Strava, Nike+ or any of the other 238 apps I use to track my runs, because then you know that I’ve actually been running quite often since I became unemployed self-employed. But it’s kind of a big deal because, for the first time in about eight months, nothing hurt when I ran.

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I got up early even though it was Saturday (now that I’m unemployed self-employed, differentiating between weekdays and weekends is a social convention I no longer feel the need to abide by). I had a coffee, half of a piece of toast with nothing and half of a piece of toast with peanut butter on it (what actually happened was that I felt too lazy to put something on my toast and started eating it and then realised halfway through that having toast with nothing is just terribly sad, even by my standards, so I put my big girl pants on and sorted it out with peanut butter).

(Peanut butter is the duct tape of foods. There’s nothing it can’t fix, even if we’re talking about a disgrace like a half eaten piece of toast. But anyway, this is a parenthesis about a parenthesis and I don’t want this to get too complex so I should probably get back to the main topic now.)

Gratuitous cat photo because it's Caturday and this is the internet. Zara is perfecting her stretching poses. She's a fitness nut.

Gratuitous cat photo because it’s Caturday and this is the internet. Zara is perfecting her stretching poses. She’s a fitness nut.

I had half a banana in the car on my way to this run, which is a bad idea if it’s a stupidly hot day and you’re going to leave half of a banana in the car for the next three hours. Just a little life tip for you, because I’m all about adding value to these posts.

I then started running the same way I’ve started every single one of my runs in the last eight months or so: I had some random overly upbeat song blasting in my ears (could have been Lady Gaga, yes, but this blog is not a place for judgement) and I put one foot in front of the other waiting for some part of my body to start screaming (usually my IT Band or my shin, because I’m a proper runner with proper runner injuries).

Gaga wasn’t even halfway through preaching about my right to live however I please when I started noticing something weird going on: the fact that nothing was going on.

For the first time since about March, not one single part of my body was hurting or complaining about anything. I had enough water and plenty of energy (after eating a gel for the first time ever before a run, which appeared to have taken away my usual desire to give up a couple of hundred metres into the run). But no, oh no, not this time. This time I was all like “yeah, Gaga, you tell ‘em!” and things only really started hurting a bit when I got halfway up the first hill. But when I say hurting, I mean on the inside, in my heart (aww), because I remembered I hate running uphill. Still no physical pain. Like, none.

Are you as weirded out by this as I am? I kind of hope so but, if not, here’s a video compilation of dogs acting like humans. Animals acting like humans is like the 17th weirdest thing there is.

(I didn’t actually watch the video so it might be completely crap, but I did Google it for you when I could have been doing other stuff like eating ice cream or learning cross-stitch so I do hope you appreciate my efforts. And now I went off-topic again, awesome. Potential employers, don’t you all start calling me at once.)

I ended up running about 22km (FIST PUMP!) without even a hint of pain throughout the whole thing.

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All I could complain about was the amount of hills (most of them were actually just gentle inclines but one man’s gentle incline is another man’s Everest and any man’s gentle incline is definitely a mountain by my running standards). And also, the sun frying my skin. I’m not one to exaggerate but that was like the hottest day ever since whenever the last hottest day was. At least.

I took an inception-type selfie to show the weird running singlet tan lines I'm currently sporting. Then I went ahead and posted it here. NEW LOW.

I took an inception-type selfie to show the weird running singlet tan lines I’m currently sporting because of all this running in the sun deal. Then I went ahead and posted it here. NEW LOW.

But, not sure I mentioned, no pain. Eight months of running with pain every single time (it usually disappears during the run but it’s normally always there at some point) makes you forget what it’s like to run pain-free. For the sake of reference, eight months is around about the gestation period of a polar bear or a hippopotamus (another little nugget of wisdom for you). My point is that 8 months is a really long time to do anything, including running in pain. I sometimes wonder how the hell I didn’t just give it all up and channel my energy into a different hobby like Jenga or something. I guess the reason I didn’t give up during these 8 months is a little bit related to how shit I am at Jenga but also probably really good evidence of how much I love running.

Little problem, though: since I don’t feel like I had to tough it out and get over any pain this morning, the whole run ended up being pretty uneventful – less than ideal when you want to write about it for your running blog. I mean, what else am I supposed to tell you about it? I stopped at a dairy and had a Coke halfway through (Coke Zero, because I’m obviously all about healthy choices). But that’s it, really. No major adversity to overcome or anything. Just a nice long run to start off the weekend. I guess I got so used to bitching about pain I’m a little lost about what to tell you about my next few runs. Am I going to even have anything to tell you? Who knows.

Actually, I got a pretty decent sized blister so I’m sure you’ll hear from me again soon.


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Motivational quotes don’t get me motivated and summer brings out all the idiots

Buzzfeed got a bunch of fitspo qotes and fixed them. All the others are here

Buzzfeed got a bunch of fitspo qotes and fixed them. All the others are here.

I’ve ran a grand total of 5 painful kilometers in the last week and a half so, naturally, it’s time to get my rant on.

I’ve been doing what I can to be a good runner and look after my injured leg. And what I can do is not run. Except not running is turning me into a miserable bitch so it’s basically been a choice between a leg that moves painlessly and a brain that isn’t subconsciously working out ways to hurt other people.

Fun times, you guys.

This is all being made even harder because of the timing of this whole injury thing. I’m not just talking about the events I’m supposed to be training for (I’ve got a relay in a month’s time and, at this stage, I’d need a relay team of 24 people just to run to the bakery across the road from home). There’s more.

You see, this weekend is Auckland Marathon weekend. Naturally, people are excited. Excited people talk about things that make them excited. Excited people talking about things that make them excited expect their excitement to be met with excitement too. Getting excited about marathons is hard when you have limbs threatening to crack.

(That said: go you good things! I’ll be cheering for you from wherever I am, probably sitting down feeling sorry for myself.)

Lesson: If you’re going to get a running injury, don’t get a running injury while everyone around you is excited about their marathon.

Also, the weather is getting warmer, which would be great if I wasn’t hating on everything right now. Like all “lifestyle” articles popping up about getting in shape for summer. Nicer weather has brought a bunch of seasonal runners out to the streets, those “trying to get in shape for Summer” types. Regular running Vera would find that pretty cool, yay for people focusing on themselves! Injured-no-running-hates-everything Vera sees them as she drives past on her way home to put ice on her leg and wants to yell at them to get their stinky running shoes off her reserve.

And yes, I judge you if you’re running around the park because Summer is coming and you want to look good on the beach. I judge people who talk about getting ready for “bikini season” because that’s the type of superficial crap that doesn’t help anyone make any permanent change that’ll actually make them feel better about themselves.

The other day, the lady who comes to sell sandwiches at lunchtime asked why I wasn’t buying a cookie with my sandwich. Before I had time to explain to her that I’d been sent some chocolate that I’d been working on all morning, she told me “probably for the best, Summer is coming!” and since I don’t understand why my cookie intake is in any way more related to the change of seasons than to the phases of the moon or changes in tides, I went ahead and bought the stupid cookie anyway.

(Maybe that was her plan all along? Well played, lunch lady, well played.)

The “getting fit for Summer” thing annoys me more than I care to explain. As a side-effect of trying to fit into a bikini that is not their size, some people will get a bit fitter. But fitness is a consequence they’re not even thinking about. They want the thigh gap and the flat stomach that doesn’t hang over their bikini bottoms. Once Summer is over, they won’t see a reason for their gym membership anymore. So their excuse to be out there running around my reserve while I have to go home and cry about how I can’t run is actually pretty stupid. Also, your leg doesn’t hurt and mine does so, naturally, I want you dead.

(I warned you I was bitchy.)

Lesson: If you’re going to get a running injury, get a running injury during Winter, when most people don’t really give two shits about working out either.

To top things off nicely, I’m less than two weeks away from making a pretty massive life change that, on the plus side, will involve the possibility of never having to speak to people again but, on the other hand, will involve the possibility of never having to speak to people again. It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying and, if history has taught me anything, is that I don’t deal very well with drastic changes, even ones I want to make (you’d be nodding along right about now if you’d seen me in the first couple of months of living in New Zealand). I’d usually cope with stress by running it all off but, instead, I’m coping with stress the only other way I know how to: by writing about how much not running is making me hate everything.

Lesson: If you’re going to get a running injury, don’t do it when you’re about to start freelancing from home and you’re so stressed about that life change it actually makes you want to vomit.

I’m finally off to get my xray today. In the meantime, I’ll be staying away from fitness websites for a while because motivational quotes are starting to drive me insane. No, internet, I most definitely should not be running right now. And I’d really appreciate if you stopped trying to make me feel like crap about that.


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A list of things you definitely shouldn’t do while dealing with a running injury

Let’s make this quick: the reason I haven’t posted anything in – oh I don’t know, you go and check how long it’s been if you’re interested – is because I’ve been sporting a bunch of really hot running-related injuries. I’m too tired of moaning about them to moan about them here so you’re in luck (my friends IRL, however, are probably calling their cell phone providers to switch numbers as we speak).

Considering even the boy who never reads my blog has noticed it’s been ages since I posted, I thought it was time to come here and say some stuff. First I thought I’d post a photo of my lunch. Then I ate my lunch and forgot to take a photo, proving I’ll never be a proper fitness blogger. Then I thought I’d still try to go for the whole good fitness blogger thing and list all the distances, splits and paces of my latest workouts. Then I realised I couldn’t really give less of a shit about other people’s splits and paces so why would you care about mine?

So here we are. Nowhere useful, which is a good place to start.

Last time we spoke, I’d gone to hell and back at the Big O. Once the physical pain from that was gone (the emotional trauma will hang around for a while), I sank right into the world of running injuries where I’ve been unhappily living ever since. Shin splints on my left leg, ITB pain on my right leg (and occasionally on the left one too, for good measure) mean that I can’t go for a road run longer than 200m before I start reconsidering this whole running deal.

The problem, you see, is that I’ve been running (shit I never thought I’d say). Even though I should just sit at home quietly, both legs elevated and covered in ice, with my chocolate bars handy and Gilmore Girl episodes playing on TV, I have managed to drag myself out for a run every 2 or 3 days. It’s been doing wonders for my mental health (and other people’s personal safety) but very, very little for my injured legs.

I guess it wouldn’t be a massive overstatement to say I’m not exactly smart when it comes to recovery.

(Whatever. I’m a different kind of smart. Just ask my mum.)

(Please don’t ask my mum. I’m not entirely sure where she sits on that issue.)

Anyway. the point is that I feel like I’ve been stuck in a perpetual loop of running injuries for a while now, which is not a great place to be. Ever the practical one, though, I’ve identified the stuff I’ve been doing wrong and listed it all here so you can ensure you don’t end up like me.

1. Running

If you’re injured, don’t run. I’m not talking about tired legs, feel free to run on those, you big badass. But proper pain? Stay home. Put some cushions at the end of the bed, park your ass on it, legs up, 2L ice cream tub in hand. You’re good. Stay there for a while. Running when you’re injured would be very, very stupid, as I’ve discovered.

2. Skiing

Don’t go skiing, that’s stupid. I went skiing a few weeks ago when my left ITB was complaining. You know me, always testing shit out in the name of science. The conclusion, based on the empirical evidence collected during this experiment, is: NO.

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3. Bungy jumping

No bungy jumping. Definitely no bungy jumping. I did that last Sunday. At first I thought “SGG, you smart mofo. This is a brilliant idea that will stretch all your muscles and put everything back in its place”. I had this whole theory about how bungy jumps should be the new quick-fix alternative to massages. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good massage as much as the next middle-class white chick with a not-great-but-decidedly-above-average amount of disposable income, but I thought I’d found an alternative that would cost about the same and take way less time to get done. Well, wouldn’t that just be another giant sack of no.

4. Wearing high heels

No high heels. I know, that makes me want to cry too. Except I’ve worn high heels twice this week for two full days and the extra pain I got from those made me want to cry even more. For now, they’ll just have to sit in the closet, looking pretty. So pretty.

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5. Forgetting to ice, elevate, compress, etc, etc, etc.

Ice the shit out of your legs. I get home every evening convinced that I’m going to spend at least a good half hour bonding with a bag of frozen vegetables. Then I sit down and decide that I can’t be bothered getting up again and walking to the freezer for them (a friend today called me “the laziest long distance runner” he’d ever met and I’m afraid he might have a point).

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6. Not listening to the body

I’ve been going through a bit of denial when it comes to all this pain. Most of the time I pretend it’s not even there. Sometimes I convince myself it’s gone. Listen to your body. But listen for longer than a few minutes. I’ve been all “yay, my legs haven’t hurt at all for the last two hours! I must be cured! Let’s go running!”. Yeah… no.

7. Signing up for last-minute running events because I’m weak and can’t help myself

I’ve got a half marathon to run this Sunday, a half marathon to run the Sunday after, a relay at the end of next month and a bunch of other plans for other runs. I’m officially, undeniably, utterly, hopelessly addicted to the rush you get from confirming your registration to an event and adding it to your calendar. I think it’s safe to assume that none of my two upcoming half marathons will help my injuries and it’s probably not crazy to think they might actually make them worse.

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8. Treating my stomach like a dumpster

The problem with being injured is that I’m wasting precious training time for Tarawera. Since I can’t run, I should probably be doing other stuff that will impact my performance on the day, like sleeping properly or eating healthier. Except, lolz. Maybe after this cupcake.

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9. Refusing to see a doctor

Go to the doctor. Don’t be an idiot and go to the doctor. Don’t be this particular idiot who is refusing to go see the doctor because the doctor will probably say she can’t run for a while and then she’s going to have to punch the doctor in the face and no one wants to see that happening (especially because, in case you forgot, he’s actually a pretty cool guy).

10. Obsessing over these injuries

I spend an average of 92.6% of my waking hours checking to see if my legs still hurt. Hang on a second. Yep, still hurting. Doing this, surprisingly, will not make them heal any faster.

And now that I’ve given you a bunch of hypocritical advice that I’m probably going to continue to ignore, I’m going to sort the stuff for the half marathon I’m running on Sunday. Just me, my shin splints and my retarded IT band.

P.s.: I keep meaning to mention and then getting distract by checking whether my legs still hurt or not (9:18pm update: they still hurt) but, in case you haven’t seen it yet, go check out my article in the Guardian and, if you’re in New Zealand, go grab the latest Wilderness magazine and check out my profile of the amazing Ruby Muir in the latest issue of NZ Trail Runner. DO IT!


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Running in the age of instant gratification

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I am going for a run for the first time in a week and a half soon after this post hits the internet. Bear with me while I bitch about my injury one last time.

I blame society.

Yes, you, society. You and your same-day delivery options, your one-click downloads and your food-in-a-minute recipes. I’m grumpy and it’s your fault.

Being a runner in the age of instant gratification is really freaking hard. I’m not the most patient person in the world anyway so dealing with something that involves slow continuous progress is hard enough, even if it’s something I enjoy. I put off watching movies with plots I find interesting if they’re over 2 hours long because my brain is no longer trained to wait 3 hours to find out what happens. Yes, it’s that bad.

Being injured and forced to wait for things to go back to normal has been a shitfest. I know, I know – the quickest route isn’t always the best and there are no shortcuts to happiness and all other assorted hippie crap you can think of. I’m over it.

This injury has been testing my patience. My patience is failing. F-, patience. Go home and think of what you’ve done.

I’m a proud member of the Instageneration for whom “now” is the only acceptable answer to any “when can I” question. All this sitting around waiting for aches to go away is not something today’s twentysomethings are equipped to deal with.

I’d felt it already during marathon training – the anxiety that comes with wanting to reach a certain level of fitness but actually having to work for it, no “buy now” or “express shipping” options available. It makes me wonder whether this would all have been easier for past generations, used to having to wait months for letters to arrive and having to hit rewind on their cassette players to listen to the same song again. I can deal with slow progress if it means I’m doing what I enjoy so the slow progress of training is not really a bother. But this? Sitting around doing the responsible thing waiting for the pain to go away? This is a slow ride to shitsville and I want to get off this bus and catch the express one.

I might regret this but today I’m finally going to lace up the running shoes again. Cross your fingers I won’t be typing the next post with a bag of frozen peas on my knee. But for now, patience schmacience.


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That time I accidentally ran a half marathon

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If you’re a faithful SGG reader, you are probably super smart and extremely good looking, and you know I hurt my IT band two weeks ago during my first full marathon (look at that, I couldn’t even go one whole sentence without mentioning the marathon) and haven’t run since then. I went to the doctor last week and he gave me stretching exercises to do, recommended medication and plenty of rest. He also told me that I could run “but only shorter distances”.

I had bought my entry to the Coatesville Classic half marathon a few days earlier, back when I thought the knee pain was just an entra sore spot from the marathon (mention #2!) and not much else. Turns out it is something else and half marathons are definitely not prescribed as a cure or even relief for IT band issues.

But I can explain, I swear.

On Thursday, after nearly two weeks of constant pain, I could finally walk pain-free. I remained fully convinced I was going to do the responsible thing and not run the half marathon on Sunday, letting the registration fee go to waste (since it was too late for a refund). On Friday, still no pain. Along comes Saturday and, whaddayaknow, another pain-free day. So I thought “you know, I don’t have to lose absolutely every cent. I can go there, pick up my registration pack (which included a free t-shirt and a bottle) and cheer for the other runners for a bit”. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning, right? I don’t know, that’s not what happened.

Later on Saturday, I saw that the bit of the course that went through the inside of Kim Dotcom’s mansion grounds was only 3km into the whole run. That course change announcement that meant we’d run through his property was part of the reason I had signed up in the first place so I thought “maybe I’ll run those first 3 or 4km and then walk back to the start line and be done with it”. That shouldn’t be too bad. Plus, I’d picked up a St Patrick’s Day themed headband from the $2 shop the day before so that was my excuse to get a run in on that day. I matched it with a bright green shirt, green compression socks and even green nails (it may only have been 3 or 4km and I may not have a single drop of Irish blood in me but none of those are reasons not to get festive).

So at 7:30AM on Sunday, I lined up near the start line with all the half marathon runners, ready for my little jog up to Dotcom’s not-so-humble abode. My knee started hurting again before I’d even run 500 meters but there was no way I was going to step to the side less than a kilometer into it, so I kept going. Really, really, really slow. No, slower than that.

The rain was pouring and kept pouring the entire morning so the views weren’t as impressive as they would have been on a clear day but they were still enough to distract me. Kim Dotcom’s gardens are lovely – fake giraffes and all – and next thing I knew, we were leaving the mansion grounds and continuing along the course. I had assumed we would exit his property through the same gate we’d entered but that wasn’t the case and I was a little confused about how to get back to the start line from there so I decided to keep on going a little longer, hoping to see an ambulance or some sort of support car that I could get a ride with. Either none passed me or I was too distracted to notice them so I just kept running slow/ walking my way along the course. It’s described as Auckland’s “most scenic half marathon” for a reason. Scenic is just code for hilly but, for once, I was happy about the climbs (my knee didn’t hurt so much during those) and miserable in the downhills (which I had to walk because the impact on the knee was too much).

To cut a long story short, I ended up slowly running/walking the whole thing. My knee was sending me death threats at about kilometer 15 but I thought that, by then, whatever damage I could do had already been done. After getting through two-thirds of the thing, I wanted the medal.

The Coatesville Classic is, in my opinion, the best organised road running event in the Auckland region. It’s incredibly good value – my registration was only NZ$45 and it included the shirt, bottle and finisher’s medal (medals are rare in half marathons in New Zealand). We got free massages at the end, the race briefing at the start was funny and the course marshalls were some of the nicest I had ever come across, shouting my name and complimenting my St Paddy’s headband (while probably wondering what the hell I was thinking wearing that thing in the rain).

It took me almost a million years to cross the finish line (not really but, if you consider I’m very close to 2h when I don’t run injured, it’s a pretty big difference) but I was pretty pleased to have done the whole thing, considering I didn’t even start it thinking I’d do that much and I walked about half of the distance (maybe even more than half). I was actually genuinely surprised to not have been absolute last.

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Of course my IT band is hurting again (although not nearly as much as it did last week). I’m back to icing it all the time, taking Voltaren and wearing my super sexy knee brace so I’m not expecting to run at all in the next few days. But you know what? It was worth it. The injury will take slightly longer to heal, of course, but I’m happy with the trade off, even if it means I now deserve zero sympathy from people because I clearly bring this onto myself. True. Although, technically speaking, the doctor told me to run “shorter distances” and you can’t argue that this is a 50% decrease in the distance of my last run, two weeks ago (marathon reference #3).

But I get it, I’ll calm down. I realised today that, in the last 4 weeks, I ran 3 half marathons and a full marathon (marathon reference #4), and that includes a solid week without running because of a cold (in between half marathon #2 and the full marathon – marathon reference #5) and two full weeks without running because of the IT band injury, between the full marathon (marathon reference #6) and yesterday’s half marathon.

No wonder I need a nap.