Hohenhort 15km

I recognised the anxiety straight away

The nervousness. The slight hurry in everybody’s step. The frantic darting looks for the loo. The anticipation. I was surprised to find them so strong, so overwhelming and I had not missed them in two years.

hohenhort-mapSunday morning I stood at the start of the Hohenhort 15km road race. In fact this was probably the last race I did many moons ago. How would it feel this time around?

The loop through the leafy suburb is a funny one, lots of hills and twists and turns. I started way back in the field. I was not here to race just to do a long run and see how things went.

At the end we had come full circle, back to where we came from under two hours ago and back to where I was years previously. What changed?

Certainly the streets were the same. Many fellow runners seemed the same (though I enjoyed running with three folks I don’t often have a chance to run with) it was I who had changed, I had come full circle.

shellI realised that this was more true than a linear progression we like to believe in. I was back where I had been before, well almost. But yet I felt different.

I had grown. I wondered about how many New Years resolutions had been swept under the bed already. How many dreams had been given up? Unreachable.

How it all seemed so impossible. Impossibly hard.

If these cycles were true then maybe our approach to achieving goals should be different from our linear approach. If the finish line is back at the start then what is the point.

Well that is the point exactly.

Maybe we can look rather at the next micro cycle and see “What I can I do today?”

“What can I achieve today, that maybe I could not do yesterday?” or

“Can I do something slightly better today than I did it yesterday?”

Because I know I will be back at the start tomorrow and the next day and the next. I can start again.

But start I must.

I am reading Chris Froome’s book right now. The hours and days he spends by himself turning the wheels. Again and again. Each one building. Unraveling the carpet until it gets easier. Until it builds momentum.

But starting the momentum going is not easy.

Our brain wants short term gain for long time sacrifice. We need the equation to go the other way around. This is true in all areas in our lives. Diet, exercise, career, self discipline.

Sunday I ducked under the tape in the finish chute before we got to the coke. I felt no need to replenish what I had not lost.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

Theodore Roosevelt 

I actually don’t need that much when I know I am coming back to the start. Day after day, week after week, 23 day cycle after 23 day cycle.

(A couple of nights before I did not sleep very well. It was full moon. Lunatic.)

The transition to the New Year has had its bumps. Too much compromise, too much eating other people’s snacks.

“It is not what we eat between Christmas and New Year that makes us, it is what we eat between New Year and Christmas that makes the difference.” said my wife. 

And so I set myself a challenge of 33 days to eat clean. 100% clean. No deviation. I falter, I start again. Simple. I am keeping a log. It is not the only thing I am keeping a log of.

A record, a record of honesty. Of where I am. When I know where I am I can build. Slowly.

Slowly build momentum.

Join me.




GPSI stop at the cross roads. My GPS tells me right but I am not sure. I think it is left.

I have a choice. In fact I have many choices. Right, left or in fact do I stay among the traffic and hooting and chaos? They are all my choice. Even if I don’t choose.

If we choose to be healthy, eat the right stuff, train correctly we make that choice. And there are consequences like good performances and PB’s, there are other consequences we downplay like not drinking before a big race, taper nerves, exhaustion etc. We know them too well.

Then there are those that we do not talk about. We may not choose them directly (we can debate that) but our choices certainly have these consequences.

We can’t just choose the good and take credit for that and when something does not work out the way it is intended then throw our toys.

I asked the question why we choose injury. An honest question not meant to be anything but.

Maybe it is better to ask why we made the choices that resulted in this outcome. Harsh? Possibly but it is a question worth asking. Why do we choose injury, over training, sickness?

Is it because we are writing cheques that our body can not cash? Are we possibly even writing cheques our being can not cash?

What if this were true?

What if we’re ignoring the message?

Are you going on a path that is not right for you? Even if you are following your mates or advice of those who say they know.

And if it is not right then what is?

Underneath each statement there is ultimately a question.

Go and ask better questions!

The Impossible Road

Any running store worth its pepper will tell you that the Asics Kayano and the Saucony Kinvara have nothing in common. In fact they are pretty much at polar opposites of the footwear spectrum.
Saucony Kinvara
The Kayano (now in model 17) is the top of the range stability shoe with lots of cushioning. I started my road running in a pair of these. (That was after a short stint in trail shoes on the road) I was told by the guys at my local running store and physio no 1 at the time that I pronate on my left foot and hence this was the shoe for me. Fast forward to today where I am buying a pair of ultra light, ultra flexible, neutral Kinvaras on line. But let me tell the whole story. (If you want to skip the boring details scroll down the last paragraph)
The Kayanos did me well. I was given exercises to strengthen my core by physio no 1 as I had started to develop ITB in my right knee. I could not really do the exercises well at all. In fact I could not do them at all. I kept telling my physio that I felt my leg was not aligned. The treatment did not really change. I gave up and sought help elsewhere.
At some point I went to visit the an alternative practitioner who had an affinity for telephone books . She did her tricks and it helped – to a point.
I continued to run dealing with various levels of discomfort.
I was recommended to see a healer who had brought the wounded back from the wheelchair. Some swear by him. I have never been in as much pain as after one of his treatments. I was not allowed to run for 3 days after being treated, no sleeping on your stomach….
Posture and symmetry is what I learnt from him.
All this helped – to a point.
I remember stopping mid run and wanting to take my road shoes off and throw them in the bin and just give up! The pain was just too much. The point is not that I don’t like pain. The point is that dealing with it every step of the way and not seeing improvement lets me question things!
I heard about myofascial release and made an appointment with physio no 2. I listened to him talk about these mythical fascia. I bought a foam roller. The best R300 I have ever spent! We had competitions at home to see who could grimace the most in pain. Those of you who have tried will know.
We tested bunkies and bum stretches and he worked his stuff.
Within a couple of months I went from pain to running the 100km Skyrun. A year later I felt better than before but still at about 70% of what I believed was my potential. I still felt out of alignment at times.

Modified Asics Kayano 16
(shows loads of cushioning and the holes I drilled into it)

At about the same time I visited my friend the orthotist who uses the rsscan. This fantastic machine tells him exactly what is wrong with your gait. Turns out my left foot pronates (just as the running shop guys said). My right though first supanates, then immediately comes back into pronation in the toe area. I modified my Kayanos by drilling holes into the medial post. I used wedges and now orthotics. In my mind these were getting more and more.
I have bought a pair of five fingers which I blogged about here. I wore them for a day before visiting The Orthotist. He was amazed. My left foot was as before but my right pronated and supanated worse than ever! How could this be? My only explanation is that my feet are not strong enough to deal with no support. After a day in the Vibrams they had tired.
Enter physio no 2. He treated my symptoms but not the cause.
Last week I finally got an appointment with the queen of alternative treatment. Yes she is eccentric and yes she is different.
I have been told to buy a pair of neutral, flexible shoes and never use my orthotics again. Orthotics you see block your body pretty much like a motion control shoe.”Why control the natural motion of your foot?” asked the Queen.
She worked on all the wrong places (my left ITB, left calf etc when my right hurt).
It sounds like she has a plan and I am intrigued enough to stick with it for the next three months and see. If I can get this right then A+. If not then I can always go back to my orthotics and tested methods. I certainly don’t want to because I believe that I am entitled to run pain free.
So what is the point of this drawn out tale?
* Don’t settle for second best when you feel that the “experts” aren’t fixing the issue.
* you can learn something from everybody. (I learnt about posture, foam rollers, that trying to do an exercise without correct alignment is no use)
* I am not an ueber human runner. I just will not give up in trying to improve. Like all athletes I have niggles which need treatment.
This story is not finished. I doubt that it will ever be! What I am sure of though is that I will continue to improve. Otherwise what is the point?