Be Here Now

Gather Them While You Can...
Gather Them While You Can…

 

Those three little words – ‘In the moment’. For a long time I’ve aspired to running and living in the present tense. I have wanted to be aware of my time and place, as much and as often as possible. As Ram Dass famously put it, I wanted to ‘Be Here Now’.

Unfortunately, in most day-to-day settings, I have found it almost impossible to realise those aspirations with any degree of reliability.  Thankfully, I keep trying.

When I have been successful, I’ve found that I can add a layer of richness and appreciation to ordinary moments that escape me at all other times. When I run and notice each breath; when I hear each footfall and notice the detail of the world around me; the experience is intense and vibrant.

For a runner, achieving any kind of concentration or focus on being present seems to become even more difficult when faced with injury. We generally attempt to plot a path away from this momentary interruption to ‘normal’ and back to where we feel we ought to be – which is not here, injured.

In the process we enter runner zombie-mode. We become consumed with the process of recovery and forget to run and live. On even the most crappy, injury-ridden, backwards-stepping day, there are rosebuds to be gathered.

We just need to pause and listen to our breath.

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“Players Only Love You When They’re Playing”

 

FleetwoodMac

Far be it from me to invest random Fleetwood Mac lyrics with unintended meaning, but sure let’s try to do it anyway.
With all the usual caveats, running has been the love of the last fifteen years of my life.

I’ve spent way too much time over those years reading, writing, talking and generally stressing over the sport than any well-balanced person should. Many friends and acquaintances know me as ‘the guy who runs all the time’. Some of those who know me a little bit better also relate to me through running. I suppose it’s an easy conversation-starter. When I haven’t seen someone for a while, a common question on meeting again will be, “Have you done any of those mad races recently?” or just “How’s the training going?” These questions often come before enquiries about family, health, work or any other topic.

I suppose that just how the world works. People get to know you through your obsessions.
How could it be any other way?

What comes as a shock is how quickly we can move from ‘player’ to ‘former player’, or, as in my case, ‘former runner’.

I’m struggling manfully to get back on the road, but have to face the fact that it might not work. At the very least, it’s going to a long and difficult process.
It may be that I’ll eventually have to find a way to love running, while not actually being a runner.

Next Week: An insight into war and peace using the lyrics of One Direction.

Fingers of Steel

Fingers of Steel - My physio's got 'em
Fingers of Steel – My physio’s got ’em

With any long-term injury, making progress towards recovery is always a minefield of self-doubt and false dawns. For me, it hasn’t so much been a question of trying to work out what’s going on with the injury, but rather a blind thoughtless policy to plough on regardless until I manage to catch a break somewhere along the line. A good friend asked me recently how long I’d ‘keep at it’, before I resigned myself to the fact that I was completely knackered and gave up. I surprised myself with the strength of my reaction to his question. I replied I’d never give up, but in all honesty, day-to-day, it doesn’t always feel like that.

Having said all of that, I do think that I’m actually making a little progress. I’m having deep friction massage on my pubic symphsis and right adductor where it attaches to the pubic bone. Having gone through all the other options, this is where the basic problem seems to be. The fact that there appears to be quite a build up of scar tissue around the area gives the theory even more credence. Suffice to say, it’s a deeply unpleasant process. You have to grit your teeth and have faith that it’ll pay off in the long-term. After the first session, I felt like I’d been attacked with a lump hammer. The plan is to allow the pain subside a little and then do it over again, and again, and again….

On the up side, I’ve even been out for a few gentle miles to test the waters without major repercussions. It’s true that such progress as there has been, has been stupefyingly slow. I jog at 10 or 11 minute miles and, because I’ve put on a few pounds, I feel like an uncoordinated blimp. I can recognise the my perceptions and actuality are probably very far apart, but that’s the way it feels.

Onwards through the, (slightly pudgy but increasingly optimistic), fog…