Thursday, 19 December 2013

Moon Shoes

         Looks like it's been over a month, but it's not like I'm gonna struggle to bust out a watered-down post every week. Plus, Christmas is coming up, and if you're reading multiple blogs right now you should ask yourself why you have nothing better to do.

 But, in all seriousness, lets talk about Moon Shoes. If you are not aware of what they are, swallow your pride and watch this

When I was 8 years old, or maybe 13, I asked for Moon Shoes for Christmas. Those things looked awesome. I could only imagine of the things I would get to do. I'd be known as the cool kid that hops around in school. I'd be able to go get the mail in 3 leaps and bounds. I could maybe pull them off at church if my other shoes were to be dirty. Oh the possibilities.

On Christmas morning, to my utmost pleasure, I found Moon Shoes underneath the tree. I screamed in joy, ran outside, and put them on. I then hobbled along my driveway, kind of like a carp fresh out of the water, by a series of lopsided, seizure-like half-skips that looked nothing like what was promised in the advertisements. Yeah, that was the day where I realized that Moon Shoes sucked, and were but a disappointing hoax. That day is ranked near the top of my Most Disappointing Days List, right in front of Lance Armstrong Confession Day, and right behind Habs Don't Make It Past First Round Day, which, sadly, is becoming a yearly occurrence. So yeah, it's ranked pretty high.

So, where am I going with this? This is not yet another spiel on capitalism and consumerism. If somehow you decided to hibernate and missed your dose of that during this holiday season, just sit down with your family and watch Ebenezer Scrooge wreak havoc in A Christmas Carol. The reason I brought up this sad story was to discuss the ever-standing misconception of expectation versus reality.
When we are building up for a season, we inadvertently think of unrealistic goals we would want to achieve. While I don't think aiming high is a bad idea, we often try to match our perfect goals with the imperfect reality of life. Even though we sometimes achieve it, a million things could get in the way of a perfect season. If we do not realize this, and get frustrated when perfect results don't come, we are not making any progress.

With this in mind, I have set myself a challenge for this season. Feel free to join. I will write my goals down prior to the season, and put them on the back burner. I will attempt to go through the season without thoughts on where I should be or how I compare with others, no matter how the season is going. After all it's doing, not thinking, that will get me where I want to be, so let the workload begin.

Meanwhile, time to celebrate the holidays.

Eating = Getting Fat
Running = Losing Weight
Eating + Running = Maintenance
Pick your side

Joyeux Noel


Monday, 28 October 2013

The eternal question

Hey all,

Today, I faced a tough question. A question that sends all runners back to the drawing board to re-evaluate their motives in life. I faced it in a physio room from one of the X Women Rugby players. The question came in a discrete, subtle form. Little did she know, it made my heart skip a beat. As she was looking at my muscular legs opposed to my scrawny upper body, my short shorts split all the way up to the waist, my calves splattered with dirt, and my sweaty, rain-stricken hair, she asked, matter-of-factly : Why do you like running?

She wasn't expecting a 20 second pause. Nor was she expecting the answer that was flowing through my mind. I could have told her that I like the feeling of finishing a hard workout as much as I hate the feeling of missing one altogether. I love the feeling of getting into shape as much as I hate the off-season. I love winning a race almost as much as I hate losing one. I love being able to get away with eating a bit of junk food by writing it off as 'carbo-loading. I love meeting people through the sport, I love the opportunities the sport brings. I realize that I cannot recall one time during training that I did not have at least one part of my body sore, but I also realize that without the aches and pains of running, I feel empty. I love the commitment associated with running, I love the improvement that it brings. It's a part of me that I can't live without.

I didn't feel very philosophical, and didn't want to go into brutal detail with the rugby team, so I came up with a much simpler answer.

'If you had to ask, you won't understand'


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The long and winding road


It has been a while, but there just wasn't much to talk about. Until today.

I've recently gotten off injury and began running again with the StFX X-men. Best running experiences of my life so far, these guys are beauties and I am super pumped to be able to spend my next four years with this team. Once I started running with no pain, excitement took over and I took off like a bat out of hell, running 90-100k weeks off a summer of sheer and complete elliptical bliss, or madness, depends how you look at it. Those two weeks were a blast, I tell you. Not having to think about anything but getting back into shape and gutting out the workouts en route to a challenging first XC season in the AUS. All fun and games, until knee pain came along and has now been sidetracking me for the last few days.

This has gotten me thinking. Why was I so stupid? Like every runner out there would understand, I felt the urge to run myself to exhaustion to compensate for my lifeless summer. If you are not a runner and do not understand my mental process, think of it this way: A smoker deprived of cigarettes for a few months would become insane, as I was for a while. Once he would be able to smoke again, he would probably go on a rather unhealthy bender. My bender consisted of doing a lot of running, more than my body eventually could handle, which brings me to my new theory on the sport. I guess Aesop was more than a turtle-loving storyteller when he came up with the Tortoise and the Hare nursery rhyme. He was on to something. Maybe slow and steady really does win the race...

We see this everywhere in life; if the NHL season would be based on the first 5 games, the Leafs would have a few more colour pictures of the Stanley Cup on their wall. If you could become a businessman in a month, everyone would do it and enjoy measly 4 day weeks in university. If you could solve your New Year's resolution in the first two weeks of January, gyms would go out of business by Valentine's Day. An amazing start doesn't necessarily lead to an amazing finish. We are so impatient to try to master our craft that we get frustrated when it doesn't fall into our hands immediately. This makes us overdo, overtrain, and overanalyse everything when the answer is the same for 99% of occasions. Success is gradual. We cannot make hares of ourselves and dive into something overzealously, because that pool is shallow, and we will eventually hit the bottom quicker than we have planned. Instead, we need to grow in our practice, and improve slightly every day, until we reach our goal. This will eventually make it feel more worthwhile.

So from now on I will model myself like the tortoise. Those things can live up to 200 years, so they must know what's up. That's a lot of time to improve.


Saturday, 3 August 2013

A new beginning

Stumbled upon this blogging business today and thought I'd give it a try. Even though everyone now has Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and are too busy for blogging unless they're unemployed or are an injured runner. Sadly, I belong in the latter group. After working the hardest I had ever worked to build a good base over the winter and following it up with a couple solid road races in the spring, nothing could go wrong for summer track. So I thought. A bout of achilles tendonitis followed by a stress fracture that could have been diagnosed much quicker than it did pretty much wiped out my season. 

Dealing with injury is tough for any runner, no matter what level. If you're like me, it's all you'll think about during your time on the shelf; hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Days seem like weeks and weeks seem like months, and the whole thing feels like a big, lifeless, lethargic blur. But after endless boring hours on the pool, bike, and the elliptical machine, one begins to realize why this whole thing might have happened for a reason. There's something magical about getting seriously injured (2 weeks +) for the first time. All crankyness, impatience and frustration aside, being unable to run inevitably teaches us a lesson. Like anything else in life, running is most appreciated when we cannot have it. When we start a new phase in our training, we are extremely motivated for the first few runs, then, everything becomes mainstream and we end up going through the motions without even realizing it. Sometimes, an initial and untimely fork in the road is what we need to make us fully appreciate our future running adventures.

Today was my first decent run since coming back from the dead and it felt great. Am I as fit as I wanted to be at this time of year? Would I be able to run a PB in any given race right now? No and no. But I'm finally on the right track and ready to work towards cross season and just that gives me more motivation than I had in a while. 

Sometimes we don't realize how lucky we are to simply be alive and well enough to run. From now on, when I'll be hurting halfway through my race with the wind in my face while running up hills that just won't quit, I'll enjoy it, telling myself that it's a hell of a lot better than watching The Price is Right with my leg in a bucket of cold water.