I wanna be an Airborne Ranger

I am not new to writing. I have, after all is said and done, five books with my name on hidden away on bookshelves across the world. I am not new to blogging. I have written, edited and contributed to a globally popular blog site. Running, however, is new to me.

In 1993 I broke my knee and again in 2000.  My ankle in 1993 was shattered thanks to a 1970’s themed Car Wash disco, and a set of platform shoes that did not grip well to the beer soaked floor. Along came Dancing Queen and hello traction.

I suffered from shin splints, even walking, from then on. I couldn’t run and the merest possibility that I could had not even been considered.  In Winters in New York and London my knee would swell. The thigh muscle above it would puff out. A Baker cyst behind would try to rectify the situation, and bend the joint back the way it was supposed to be but all in all, it was not pleasant and running was not on the agenda.

So to 2012 and a breakthrough in therapy that forced me to start to challenge myself in new ways, in physical ways, and so I thought – why not try running?

It was the 1st of March. I had been a member of the largest gym in Europe, the Virgin Active at the Barbican in London for a year, and had used the weights a lot. I went and tried to run. Within 30 seconds I had such painful shin splints that I had to stop and give up. I went home and approached the problem thusly;

  • The shoes I was wearing. They were Brooks (as I have crazy wide EEEE feet) but just regular trainers, not running shoes. Perhaps, I thought, I should get running shoes. Maybe this would help.
  • Pace. Having not run since I left high school in 1989 I could not say confidently what a running pace would be. Everything was in kilometers on the treadmills. How fast could a grown up, and pushing 40, me run? I never did like cross-country, or anything more than 400 meters at school. The 100 I liked, as it was over quickly. Perhaps I should start slow and then speed up until I found a pace I could describe as comfortable.
  • Motivation.  I had none. Simply trying to challenge myself because my shrink thinks this is why I have no real system of worth is easy to understand and I chose running because I knew I couldn’t, so what motivation could I have? Even if it was just to keep my brain occupied?  It was simple. I decided that I would run a marathon, something inconceivable to me, But first… An interim challenge..
So I researched shoes and races…. 
Shoes took several goes. I started with Brooks GTS runners and they are a pretty good backup shoe but not 100% comfortable.
So I kept looking.
I then chanced on the UK Gear site. UK Gear are military issue shoes, built to last, built for the Army, Navy and Airforce and used in both the UK and US. I love the military, and thought, these guys must have comfy shoes, after all, they are doing PT PT Every Day, according to the cadence.
They are a painful as hell. They are built to last, but they do this by being constructed of hard plastic that rubbed the heck out of my feet.
And so the quest continued….
I pronate. In fact, I have a weird gait due to the aforementioned breaks and fractures. It means I run flat footed on my left (the injured leg) and the right arcs in, with me landing on the outside edge and rolling onto the ball of my foot. I also, as mentioned before, have wide Lego feet – so looked for shoes with wide fittings and for pronation. Et voila!
I love them. Recently I have added Dr Foot insoles, but these are the business. They also opened my eyes to a further motivator in the shape of Nike+ Ipod, but we shall talk about that later.
A marathon? Was I serious? A marathon? 42.2 Kilometers? I had barely run 5 mins and was dead. My shins had lumps and bumps over them. I was walking like a duck. I was not happy. So I broke it down.
A marathon is tough. A marathon is probably the most difficult thing I will ever do. Forget my degree, masters, career, this is me against my body (and an aging body at that). But why go balls-out and right into the marathon, surely there are baby steps to be made. And there were…
I started by downloading the Couch to 5K application. This was a popular means to get a couch potato such as myself at least jogging, and partially walking, around a park for an hour. I printed off the schedule, I put on my new Nike+ running shoes. I put on my nice new Nike shorts, shirt, More Miles socks and headed to the gym for C25K Week 1 Day1.
I can’t remember what I needed to do for that workout but I put on the iPod and ran at about 7.5kph…
Now let’s talk music…
I love music. I actually can’t run without it. So the smaller races, that are scared of insurance claims where one iPod listener crashes into another and there is no St John’s ambulancemen to come help, are not for me. They will cite IAAF rules and you will be stopped by stewards and asked to take off your headset. The key is to always check the small print and/or photos from prior years.
Anyway, I was thinking about pace and I was thinking about the UK Gear and the military running for hours upon hours. Then, having spent a good decade in the US, I thought about military cadences – you know – the songs they sing when they run – I wanna be an airborne ranger etc. So for this inaugural run I downloaded 50Running Cadences of the US Military from iTunes and put them on my pod.
Since then, of course, I have moved on and have a running playlist that is nigh on perfect for a decent 10K run, but remember this was the first run, back in March.
So… I had the clothes, I had the running shoes, I had a running program (the Couch to 5K) and I had the music…
90 minutes later I had run 14 kilometers non-stop at a steady 8.5kph and decided I didn’t need the C25K after all.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Caterina Presi says:

    I loved this post. You and your body….It’s a very different journey than that for your master degree….and yet…a fight is a fight, and ‘mens sana in corpore sano’.

    Injuries are the worse limitations – they annoy me like nothing else – and you overcame major ones. Respect right there.

    Self-deprecating in the right amounts, a sing of a good thinker… Great to read this first post of yours.

    The shoes reviews are good too, I personally enjoy the runner story.
    To many adventures, to the history that holds them together and the unexpected, my best wishes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s