So You Want To Be A Runner…

As I sat on the table across from my physiotherapist she asked only a simple question. "Why is it that you want to run?"

Well, runners are long and lean and disciplined. They do marvellous things like get themselves out of bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings to run 10Ks. Runners get to buy special food like power bars and sports drinks to "keep up their strength". It's romantic to be just you and your trainers on the long road with the horizon stretching out in front of you. Like a sort of Nike advert. And you can write books about it like Haruki Murakami. I mean, I want people to listen to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (his book, by the way).

But I didn't say any of this to my physio. I think I mustered an explanation that had something to do with "I'm bored of walking so much." Which isn't a bad reason, but not sure that it's a great reason.

I kind of knew what she was going to say after five years of talking to her about my body and what it's capable of. In case you don't know me (although that's unlikely as this is my first blog posting ever), it's been about five years since I ran into real trouble with my body. I am a former financial journalist who spent about four years battling painful muscle spasms caused by poor posture (some might call it a musculoskeletal disorder or repetitive strain injury (RSI)). It was the hunching over my desk typing that did it, but a big part of it was also my body type – hypermobile – scientific speak for being flexible.

As I write this blog, I'll tell you the whole story. How I figured out what was wrong with me, and how I eventually fixed it, with the help of a physiotherapist, who by any standard is just super. So I'll probably refer to her going forward as Super Physio.

But it's a long story, so we'll let it unravel slowly. All you need to know now is that I'm getting to the end of the journey of chronic pain and now have a new body to manage.

Anyway, back to the running. Super Physio reminded me gently about my body type and how I'm more prone to injury than most – particularly in those high impact sports like running. But if running was really something I wanted to do badly, she'd help me get there. But why did I want to do it? Did I enjoy it? Was it something that might cause me to get injured more often and mean physio more often – and was I OK with that?

That is the very essence of what I want this blog to address. We often do things for reasons other than what's best for us or what will actually make us happy. We follow the latest fitness craze because others are doing it. We eat more blueberries because someone told us they are the next super food (even though we don't like them). We take bottles of vitamins because we feel crappy but we don't even think about how we're not getting enough sleep and running ourselves ragged. We do lots of crazy things under the premise of "health," but are we any better off? And do the experts know more about our own bodies than we do? We are the ones who live in them every day.

Resolving the running issue was a quick thought process for me. I didn't really want to run because it was something I liked doing. It just seemed cool when other people did it. So maybe best to leave it to them. There are loads of other fitness activities I'd rather partake in. And more physio, more often again? No thanks. I think Super Physio is great, but I'd really rather be out living my life.

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