What I talk about when I don’t talk about running.

The observative reader will notice the cheap persiflage of the title of Murakami’s awesome book right away, I’m sure. Yet, this is a different story entirely.

The day after Voorne, I went for a rather intense interval workout with the folks of the Venice Beach Gym. Not the ideal recovery, but the ideal way to spend a Monday evening, which kind of tricked me into thinking it was probably a good idea. That was until my Achilles started hurting. Badly. It’d been protesting during the last 5k of the Voorne trail, but I hadn’t been paying too much attention to it. And now I was forced to pay attention to it. There was no way around it.

I didn’t run for 3 days and when I did on day 4, I was forced to call it a day early. To the doctor! I entered her office and told her I probably had a mild tendinitis on my Achilles and expected her to tell me not to run for about 2 weeks. She said 3. I tried 2.5 but she was cold as ice and said this was not negotiable. On top of that, she sent me to the physiotherapist.

In the end, I didn’t do any running worth mentioning for the next 6 (yes, 6) weeks. And with running temporarily out of my life, days suddenly became long & boring. I convinced some friends to convince me to go swimming every now and then. I tried other cardio stuff in the gym. Rowing. Biking. Elliptical. I hated every single one of them. The big epiphany, however, came when I started going to the physio.

Until recently, all (well, both of them) physios I had to deal with treated me with electricity and all kinds of fancy equipment. I would go home and wait for the next treatment and repeat this until the pain was gone. Which it did, eventually. No saying whether I had the treatment to thank for this or whether it was just time doing what it does best: healing wounds.

But now there’s Karel. Karel was different from the get-go. He asked me what happened, what I did, what level I was running at, what my goals were,… He studied me, tried to pinpoint the source of my issue instead of just temporarily fixing it. And most of all: he had me work my ass off. And this was really confronting. I’d always thought my core strength and legs were well above average. Still, he had me try things that looked super easy and had me break into a sweat after 2 minutes or, even worse, I couldn’t do at all. The bad news, however, was that I would basically have to “wait it out”. He could loosen up my joints, give me exercises to do at home to improve my flexibility in order to make me less injury-prone in the future, but the Achilles just needed time to heal, period, end of line.

In the mean time, I’m up & running again. Looking back at that month and a half now, in a way, I feel grateful. That doesn’t mean that I ever, ever want to be in that place again. But it was a hard learning phase and it thought me a lot about my body. I have to admit that, despite fully realising that unilateral training isn’t a smart thing to do, I’ve been neglecting all other workouts since. Except for my homework from my physio. These exercises, a lot of them inspired by the pretty amazing Ido Portal, are easy to do whenever I have 5 minutes to spare. No need to go to the gym and quite a few of them can be combined with cooking, having breakfast, reading and what not. Which leaves plenty of time for things a lot more fun than doing exercises. Running, for example…



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