Respect your vehicle

Every now and then someone comes into your life who changes your perspective and inspires you to take a different path in life. Aidan and his mum have been two of those people for me.

Our beliefs around life are often challenged when faced with disease and death.  My own concepts of health and life were certainly challenged when faced with the death of the "healthiest" person I knew and the person who lived and breathed every aspect of a "healthy" lifestyle.  How could she get cancer and die when she did everything right?  I had a similar conversation with a patient just last week.  She said to me, how come I got breast cancer, I do everything right, eat healthy, don't use a microwave, don't use aluminium deodorants etc etc.  Disease and death make us question what is the point of looking after our bodies if we are going to get sick or die anyway?

Watch this video of Aidan and I think you will agree with me, in that, it is all about respecting the body you have, and getting the most out of the vehicle you have been given.  Everyone is different.  Some of us are given brand new Ferrari's, some of us are given second hand mopeds, yet we all have the ability to use that vehicle to it's absolute capacity.  Respecting your vehicle and being healthy, will allow you to get the absolute most out of it every single day.  
A whole heap of use are going to be at the Tomewin Mountain Challenge this Sunday where the Dash for Duchenne will be run.  It is a 1km fun run for little kids and big kids, ferrari's and mopeds, all raising money for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  If you can, come and join us.  If you can't, please support this cause in whatever way you can.
Remember to respect the vehicle you have been is the only one you've got.  
In health

GC Marathon 2012 - learning to commit, adjust and respect

When things go wrong, or they don’t go according to plan, you have to adjust. You have to stay committed to the goal and respect the vehicle that is getting you there. This is what I learnt from the GC Marathon 2012. In order to get to the final destination, ie, across the finish line, I had to be prepared to adjust. Not an easy thing to do when you have expectations, when you have put in the hours of training and when you have emotional attachments to outcomes. You have to have utmost respect for your body and there is no way you can do any of this you are not committed.

I absolutely loved running the first half of the marathon.  I was able to get into a rhythm and cruise along at a nice pace.  Sure, I had niggles in places I never had niggles before, but I was able to adjust my stride slightly or my breathing or my posture and manage all of them.  I had my family cheering me on at the Burleigh turn around point and it was so cool to be lifted by them.  Little did I know that my left knee was about to blow up, out of what seemed like no where.

I don’t really remember exactly what happened.  All I know is that between about 21km and 25km I started to experience pain in my left knee.  When I walked through the drink stations it became increasingly difficult to get started again.  Between 25km and 30km I had to walk some of the way as my knee started to give way on me.  And then what was most distressing was I then found I couldn’t even walk because the pain was so intense and my knee kept giving way.  I sat and stretched and somehow managed to get the pain under control and realised I was going to have to adjust everything.  I had to adjust all my expectations, my goals and my race plan.  I had to get into a rhythm of walking and let my knee settle.  

The things that were going through my head in these times were both positive and negative, constructive and destructive.  Last year I had to pull out of the marathon because of a chest infection, so I was determined to finish it, yet, I couldn’t see how I would be able to and the lure of pulling out was strong!  Especially since I had to go past the finish line anyway.  The year before that I had a great run and nothing went wrong, so I knew I could do it and wanted it to be like that again!

Regret, doubt, fear, shame, anger, frustration, pain, name it I felt them all.  Then my buddy Daz came along beside me and it lifted me enough to be able to try running again.......for about 200m.  At that point I had made my decision I would pull out, all I had to do was walk about another 1 km and I was back at the start/finish line.  If I had to walk to whole rest of the way I would take too long and my friends waiting for me at the finish line would get annoyed.  Because I had made my decision and I couldn’t walk, run or stand without excruciating pain I decided to sit on the curb and gather my thoughts.  

In that moment, so many people running past gave me a cheer or a word of encouragement.  And it was in that moment that I began to see what happens to the human spirit when everyone is facing fears and adversity.  I kind of wanted to say to those people, “hey, do you realise how much pain I am in!”.....yet I realised they were all in the same amount of was just presenting in their bodies in different ways. 

So I stood up and did something like a walk run shuffle hop skip run, and still the lure of pulling out was strong.  And as I got closer to that mark of where I could pull out my head said just walk over there and sit on the grass, but my heart wouldn’t let me.  I physically couldn’t bring myself to stop.  I kept walking and just adjusted to the fact that it was going to take me a long time. 

I was really emotional and then saw some friends on the side line which made me laugh and cry all at the same time.  Al came and walked with me for a bit and gave me some encouragement and I remember saying to her with absolute conviction “I am not going to pull out”.  

It’s funny how when you make that choice, things are a little easier and your body can go about adjusting to what you are doing.  I didn’t have to expend any energy deciding what I was going to do, I just had to keep going.  One foot in front of the other......what ever it took.

It was a nice day for a walk.....plenty of people out there to keep me company, nice weather, drink stops on the way.......that’s when I remember just laughing and deciding to enjoy what I could.  Respect the body I had and be thankful that I was out here and was able to walk.

Every now and then I would try to run, with very little success and every couple of hundred meters I had to stop and bend my knee to take the pressure off it. I could feel my head getting hot and my body getting cold.

Seeing my other running buddies out there was awesome.  I saw a lot of them coming back in as I was heading out to the 36km turn around point and it was so cool to share a high five and a look of knowing.  Knowing the pain and knowing the courage it was taking to be out there.

The thing is when things go wrong, or they don’t go according to plan, the satisfaction of crossing the line is even greater.  I was so determined to run the last kilometer and the energy of everyone cheering from the sideline got me through.  I was crying with the pain and the relief for that whole kilometer and when I came to the finish line and my friends were standing there waiting for me it was an overwhelming feeling of trust and respect.  

I finished it!  5 hours and 20 mins is a bloody long time to be out there and I would be happy to never experience such pain again.  But the feeling of the friendship, of the camaraderie, of the human spirit being tested and held together by the pain and can't buy that in a bottle and I would do it all again for that.  I have a new level of respect for my body, a new level of respect for the training required and the distance of the marathon.  I can take the lessons I have learnt from the run into other areas of my life.  

And, what happened after the finish line is an even better story......with even greater lessons.  But that will have to be another blog.

Thank you to Chisel Runners and GC Marathon for the experience.  Maybe even see you out there again next year!


Running with five finger

During my study with some of the world’s leading authorities in neurology, developmental kinesiology, biomechanics and functional medicine, I discovered this whole concept of functional movement patterns and reflex motor patterns that are innate in us. Each movement is dependant on the muscles and groups of muscles working in synergy to provide a “punctum fixum” for a particular joint, creating and allowing the next movement pattern and the next punctum fixum. And each muscle has parts of it that are active and inactive depending on what phase of the movement and depending on whether the muscle is contributing to movement or stability.
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Barefoot running

This week I am starting of my transition to barefoot running.  Interesting concept isn’t it?  Let me explain

My philosophy on life in general is that if there is an organic or natural option then we should always choose that option.  Over the past 15 years I have made changes to all aspects of my life to align with that philosophy.  When I got back into running two years ago I didn’t really realise there were aspects of my running that were not organic.  I bought “running” shoes that were super cushioned and comfy and wore a heart rate monitor and was very measured and calculated about how many times I ran and for how long I ran. 

Over the past few years that slowly but surely changed and I got more and more “naked”.  The HR monitor had a very short life, ditching the watch followed shortly after.  When I ran my first marathon last year I ran with no watch, drank and ate nothing other than water and just ran with how I felt.  I had no idea that I was part of a movement towards naked running (by the way.........clothes are still worn!)

At this time my shoes had been an ongoing issue and I had niggling problems in my achillies tendons, knees and hips.  I felt like every time I put my foot on the ground it was unstable and my foot was trying to find its place.  This transferred into my knees and hips.  All my muscles and ligaments were working overtime to create stability during the movement.  I had no feedback, no proprioception.

I then purchased a pair of shoes that were flatter and less cushioning.  Yeahhhhh.  I finally felt like I was getting feedback and my body knew what to do.  Since then I have had less and less niggles and injuries, however, I am very excited to continue to take this to the next level and go bare foot

Improving proprioceptive feedback through the feet is a huge part of my treatment and rehabilitation programs and therefore this makes so much sense to me!!!  I am a bit excited and invite you to come on this journey with me.......I will keep you updated on the how's and why's and who's.  The experts, Chris from Chisel Runners and Dave from Naked Runners are guiding me.......of course I like to do things "my way" and there have already been a few good thought stimulating conversations. 

Stay tuned!