On the run from Zombies …

zombiesrunSo off and on for the past two years I’ve been running. It’s crazy, I know if you had said that I would be doing this two and a half years ago I would have laughed. Laughed so hard, seriously. This is not something which I thought I would ever do. I mean … just look – well you can’t actually look at me but believe me when I say that I’m not really the ‘athletic’ type and honestly that’s quite the understatement.

When I was younger I always hated running, any type of running was too much if you asked me. We always did these mile long runs and shuttle run tests at school. Horrible! I was always really bad at it, part of it might have been that I was always fighting of a cold whenever we had them. So running was certainly not my thing. The only running I ever did was when we were playing a game of softball at school or something similar.

So I started … running

For years I hadn’t been engaged in any sports, I used to go to a gym. But I despised it, so I knew that I didn’t want to do that again. It was expensive and a drag, I didn’t want to go there each week I told myself that I would go but in the end I didn’t go … I guess that a lot of people feel that way, I know that gyms make a lot of money by paying members who don’t show up. It went on for a while and I knew that I wasn’t going to change my opinion of a gym and neither was I going to feel any better about myself at a gym. So I quit the gym. And for years I didn’t do anything sports related.

But no matter how hard I tried to deny it I knew that things had to change and that I wanted to do something which I could do whenever I felt like it and not be obligated to do it at a certain time or day. It doesn’t really work for me that way. I see many, many people run by my apartment each and every day and I I started thinking about trying it. Eventually I started running and things were going pretty well, I was actually improving and proud of the results that I was getting. At first I used the training sessions for the 5K by Evy Gruyeart – which has been quite popular in the resent years and I used the Sports Tracker app on my phone to track my progress. It worked really well, I was making really nice progress each and every time I was a little bit faster and a little bit better at it. And I felt great, even though running was difficult it also made me feel better, more active.

However that was also the moment when the trouble started. I started to have this pain in my legs – first in my left but soon also in my right leg. You know how things like that go. At first you think that it’s just an ache because you’re doing something which you aren’t used to doing. But it got worse with every time I tried to run. The turning point was when I wanted to sit down on a garden chair which reclined backwards – with your feet up when a sharp pain shot through my legs. A type of pain which I had never felt before. It felt like someone stabbed me in the leg, right above the ankle and pulled the knife up all the way towards my knee. Seriously I’m not kidding two seconds after I sat down I was standing back up. That was the moment that I realized that I really needed to see a doctor. Turns out I had shin splints and that is honestly the worst pain I ever felt in my life.

Shin splints

So I had to stop running and visit a therapist. Get both of my legs taped for a couple of weeks and go to a specialized store to get proper running shoes which were the right type of shoe for my feet and my running Slowly, very slowly things got better. And I could start running again, little by little  I was making small steps forward. Too slowly for my liking but there wasn’t really anything I could do about it. If your body doesn’t work with you what are you supposed to do? All you can really do is wait it out. Give it time to heal.

And start again, after a little while I was able to start running again … well running is a really big word for what I was doing. It must have looked really pathetic but anyway I didn’t give up, no matter how slow I was going after a while the pain came back. Probably because I wanted to go too fast too soon. During that time that I was recovering I bought the Zombies Run app and I was eager to use it. It seemed like something fun to do while running.

No matter how eager I was to start running again I had to do what was best for my body. I stopped running completely to give my legs the time and rest to heal. That was last year. And it has, almost to the date been a year since I ran the last time.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I wanted to try again to see if I could do it. I started with some really simple walking/running exercises. And at a beautiful Sunday I did my first full run. I restarted The Zombies Run app at the beginning and build it up from there on out. I really like the way it’s set up. I admit it, I’m a geek and I like stories and storytelling and well The Walking Dead so this really peaked an interest in me from the moment I first heard about it. Since I downloaded the app last year shortly before I had to quit running I got to use it a couple of times. And that means that I have a couple of good runs to compare. And to my surprise I am faster and running better than I was doing a year ago. And that gave me a huge boost of confidence.

The only set-back is that I can feel a tenderness in my left leg again. Which is how the shin splints started last time. I guess that it will always be my weak spot. Shin splints can be caused by many different reasons. Part of it might be the fact that I am overweight, but when I started running I used the wrong type of shoes. And I ran on both asphalt – which might be too hard – or in the woods – which might be too uneven. There are so many reasons which could cause this that it is impossible to point out a cause. But also different solutions to try and maybe I can find something which can help me and I can continue running.

Next to improving your health it also gives you a way to empty your mind and deal with stress and that is something I really need. My stress levels have been so high since the beginning of this year, sometimes Yoga works to find a piece of mind, however sometimes you need something more and that is when running seems to be the perfect solution for me.

I have some advice I like to share

I don’t want to suddenly change this blog into a personal blog again, yet I do want to tell those who might be interested about my experiences. I am in no way claiming to know anything about running or about shin splints. I can only advice you to make the right choices if you want to start running. I know it’s expensive but at least go to a specialized running store and let them check your feet and the way you run so you can at least start with the right shoes. And do not go to a regular store and buy the shoes you like because of the way they look, the brand or the fact that they have the right color.

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