It has been more than three months. My brief interlude with you yesterday resulted in pain and I am sorry to say I wont be able to meet you again for some time. When I say ‘some time’, I refer to a couple of months at least. You have been my best buddy and I miss you very much. Each time I see someone powering down in their sports gear, I am reminded of your presence. During these past months, I felt lost and have tried looking for other substitutes.
My closest pal for more than two decades. The one whom I go to when I am down, the one who gives me motivation and pushes me to persevere. There is an empty place in my heart whom no one else can replace. I meet up with Swimming more often than before these days in my free time when I would have spent them with you. It’s different. Where we always catch up in open spaces and nature, my exchanges with Swimming takes place in an enclosed area with many others. I have to share a spot with the others and ensure no collision. Where we used to explore distances, now I have to cover the same length of 25m continuously for an hour. Even though I have employed three different techniques to vary my experience, but basically it’s the same 25metres.
Yesterday when I had you for that short hour, I felt free and relaxed. Trotting down the path at the slowest possible pace, I wanted to build a new start with you again without the hurt. We began fine till we hit the hard concrete. The patience and endurance I have exercised in the past months to recover myself and re-establish a relationship with you – seemed to have ended in a standstill. I didn’t want to cause further harm to what we could have in the future. So I stopped.
Although I am not sure when I will be ready for you again, I have hopes that we will be together again. Sometime but not so soon. No worries, you will still hold a place in my heart. I will keep you close to my heart till the moment arrives.
I love you.
I did a non-rational activity today. Without training for more than three months after sustaining plantar faciitis, I attempted and completed one third of a half marathon today. At this moment, my legs are still aching and the hurt on my right foot tendon appears to have returned.
My original hope was to complete the half marathon if and only if I felt good today. Unfortunately, I was too optimistic. However, I learnt three important lessons today.
1. It’s ok to be last in a race – everyone’s running their own race and chasing their own personal best. Dont’ worry about them. Focus on yourself.
2. Listen to your body, if it hurts – take a break. There is a longer path ahead to conquer.
3. If anyone tells you something different from what your body is telling you, keep in mind that your inner voice is sometimes the better advisor.
I started off last in the run which I was not prepared. It was not the lack of stamina – my foot felt tender and stiff- and I was worried that the injury would return. Kicking off at a snail pace, I trotted along and had the supporters’ cheer. The trail began fine till I came to the concrete parts. I only planned to do perhaps one round and possibly extend if I felt fine. Each round measured probably 3.5km and everyone was supposed to do 6. Heading round the last bend of the first round, the first guy overtook me. I was happy to let him do that – a recurring injury was my foremost concern. As I completed my first round, the enthusiastic marshals cheered me along and I smiled and shouted “thank you!” in return. A race is never complete without volunteers and I am grateful for each and every presence.
As I stepped out in caution on my second round, I knew that I was stretching than my body’s limit. Despite taking little breaks to stretch my legs, I could feel the familiar faint throbbing as I covered the hard solid path. If I were fine, I had confidence to complete the entire run in three hours with the minimal swimming training I have been substituting with. However, I could not imagine my life without running for another year. I knew I needed to exercise discipline and stop before injuring myself again. My knees were experiencing sharp infrequent pain and they were little red flags. No one else knew I had an injury before and no one was aware that this was my first run for a long time. Only me. I had to put on the brakes for myself.
I am glad I did. Covering 7km in less than an hour was a good enough achievement for me today. It was not only a physical but also a mental fight. The route forward is long and challenging but no doubt challenging and will be satisfying. Question is, am I ready for it(yet)?
What does three months mean to you? 90 days, one seasonal change or just simply a quarter of a year? I have been down with plantar faciitis during this length of time and everyday, I feel the foot hurting after I wake up, a constant reminder that this is the result of me needing to take care of myself better. The last couple of days, I have not felt the ache as much and it struck me that my long awaited recovery seems to be around the corner. Hence I decided to share my thoughts on the meaning of the past three months.
Feels like an eternity,
sunshine no longer implies running.
Walking becomes a chore,
the bed is the place where I spend the most time.
Seeking new replacement activities,
swimming still does not quite feel right.
Spectator is my new role,
cricket matches look fun.
No chance to busk in Summer’s early arrival,
outdoor activities so near yet so far.
I watch from a distance,
gave myself a silent cheer,
and hope that tomorrow will come,
when I will be fit again.
Three months feel surely,
like an eternity.
When life deals you a foot injury,
say thanks for having an official excuse to rest.
When life puts you out of your favourite sport,
appreciate the chance to explore and step outside your comfort zone.
When life limits your amount of movement
take the chance to sit still and widen your knowledge through reading.
When life puts you out of sport,
change your role to be a supporter and offer encouragement.
When life dishes out a “chance card”
follow the instructions duly and relish the opportunity,
to grow and grow.
Inspired by Kate’s recent entry on How to be a Hit among your Chosen Demographic, I have an interesting to share with everyone too.
If everyone has been following on my races this year, I have completed two half marathons – one in Norway when the weather was excellent and one in Croydon when it was cold. Of course being able to cover these distances requires a fair bit of training and I have spent quite a fraction of my time on running. However, I have been diagnosed with planta faciitis – known to be an inflammation of the tendon – on my right foot. I have been hobbling around for a while and my speed of walking has reduced by half. My new earned nick name is ‘hob’ and though it is a little inconvenient, I decided to make most of it by spending more time with my bed.
It was just a small injury at first, I believe. But now I will be out of action for weeks or maybe months, depending on the rate of recovery. How did the injury get so serious, one may ask. Well, that’s a good story to tell –
1. Try not to stretch too much before and after runs which covers up to 10km or takes more than 30minutes. Repeat this for months.
2. When doing intensive exercises, remember not to prepare your body too much and push yourself over the limit during the actual run.
3. After feeling a slight pain in your foot, remember not to examine it further when you feel no pain during walking. Even when the pain period has resulted in you hobbling around for up to two days.
4. Resume your running routine after you thought you have ‘recovered’. Repeat this step 3 times.
5. Press on with your feet even when you feel pain when running. Convince yourself that it’s only a slight ache.
There. Five simple steps to possibly get yourself afflicted with planta faciitis(plus a slightly collapsed arch) .
I broke my personal record at the Richmond Parkrun on Saturday. Best time ever since I started on it. I have thought about breaking my record since the beginning of the year but it never seemed to happen. Even if I had thought of breaking it, I didn’t think it would be possible to cut it down by 15 seconds. In a 5km run, shaving a quarter of a minute of your own record is ALOT.
As a result I made a couple of self discoveries.
1. It is good to pace someone at the start if you do not know how to pace yourself. Similar to my life, I always found it best to reference on the experience from others if I don’t know what to set for myself. Hence I managed to drive myself further than what I have usually done. And I did not realise that I had the capacity to go at a faster pace than what I would usually have done.
2. The energy I usually reserve to last for the later part of a run was more than I had expected. It allowed me to hold on right till the end and was steadily exhausted over a longer distance than I had originally thought possible.
3. Keeping up my own pace was important when my ‘self-allocated’ pacer slowed down towards the last one third of the race. I started ahead, he overtook me; I caught up and lead for a while and he caught up again. I kept pace with me for some meters and eventually powered ahead of him and held onto my own pace. I survived and the rest is history.
4. Of course the most important element was my own mental power. I mistook it for my 10th run and an idea struck me that it could be possible to achieve a personal best at the 10th milestone. It was totally random but I stuck by it and focused on my pace. When I believed the possibility, I actually put in more effort to stick by it.
A combination of factors – determination, belief and a guide enabled me to find the hidden potential within myself. By sharing this story, I hope each one of you will ask yourself the same question and continue to probe the limits of your own potential.
What’s the worst thing that can happen to you in a race?
Strong winds pushing against you? A pulled thigh muscle acting up? Or mucus blocking your nose, reducing the amount of oxygen intake?
All of the above. In addition, I felt that my heart had problems beating like normal.
The first British Wednesday run with the running club ended up feeling thoroughly exhausted and off form. It was a staggered race – everyone gives an estimated timing of their completion time and the slowest expected person should start first. Everyone should end up at the finishing line around the same time. A length of 6.4km, it spanned between Hammersmith and Putney Bridge and we had about 15-20 of us bracing the cold and aiming for a personal best.
I targeted myself for 35minutes and I was 27 seconds off. Obviously I was disappointed but along the halfway mark, I was already well aware of my condition and I was debating whether to stop and walk lest a potential ‘heart’ condition might occur? Although I had no known heart conditions, it has been a while since I felt this kind of discomfort when running.
Four members overtook me eventually one by one and I took a look at my watch. Apparently as I tried to speed up towards the last 2 km, I was not too far off as I had thought. I even managed to open my strides as I thundered towards the finishing line. In the second half of the run, all I tried to do was to keep my pace and refused to be influenced by the others. I had my own target and my own criteriae – from my last poem – Measure Not – it was part of my learning process where I realised I was different from others and I (tried to) stop comparing myself and others. This thought kept me going for the most difficult part where I thought I might have to stop my run. “If I keep running at the same pace, I should be able to still complete”. I did and even accelerated for the last 100m.
Once again, my mind won over my body and despite the slight disappointment, I was still extremely pleased with myself.
I try to run run run,
why do the others go fast fast fast?
Am I slowing down,
let’s try to catch them up.
Huff and puff and huff and puff,
whoo whooo whooo…
Wait, my head seems to be blacking out.
Should I continue to chase them out?
Thinking of the big picture,
and do what you yourself can do.
Compare not with the rest,
as you yourself uniquely best.