Running into joy

I’m obsessed with vegan athletes at the moment, especially ultra marathon runners. It’s been an amazing year for me… No make that 18 months. 3 grueling days hiking in Kakadu helped me realise how strong my body can be and how good natural adrenaline can feel. It amazed me that I could walk and climb all day with a heavy pack and a shoulder injury, get hardly any sleep and then wake up the next day feeling stronger. How does that work!?

And I loved the zen of intense concentration while trapped on the mountain side, with cliff face above and below. It felt amazing, having the discipline of years of mindfulness training instinctively kick into gear. I loved feeling so connected with the mountain that had the power to end me.

I came back from that journey with muscles I didn’t know I had. But perhaps the shock of nearly not making it out alive needed integrating before I could make physical exercise a permanent feature in my life. 6 months later, I developed a sciatic injury. Years of too much sitting!

I waited a few months for it to resolve, but it didn’t. Then I went to a kinesiology-type chiropractor who had helped me in the past with other injuries. Nothing he did made a difference except that he helped me realise I needed to stop sitting. I got creative and changed my computer desk into a standing station. Then we travelled overseas, 17 hours of flying, and my hip took me to whole new levels of agony. Car travel became excruciating.

That didn’t stop me from climbing mountains and going paragliding though! After the 17 hour flight home again I declared war on sitting and car travel and found myself a physiotherapist within walking distance. It was the height of the build up in our tropical climate, but the 90 minute round trek took me through beautiful wildlife corridors, walking trails through the escarpment. I was drenched in sweat but happy!

I have absolutely loved my physio experience, especially the exercises. Every week I am given a new exercise. At first I only had two exercises to do, 6 times a day. Now I have 8 exercises, most with 10-15 repetitions, and I do these twice a day. I can drive myself to the physio now, but I have fallen in love with the escarpment walks. I’m walking at least once daily for half an hour to an hour, sometimes twice. I want to do at least 3 km per day, and eventually work up to 8 km for my ‘walk for water’ fund raising in march.

Then I want to start running again. I miss running. I read runners blogs and runners magazines and they move me to tears. ‘Running is moving meditation’ was a quote I read today. For me, running is the closest I can get to the feeling I have in flying dreams.

I love this sciatic injury. By the time it heals, it will have turned me into an avid lover of exercise, as well as teaching me to say no without guilt.

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