Sunday, November 02, 2008

Taking It Outside

Clear blue skies. A cool spring breeze off the ocean. Pristine white sands. Turquoise water as far as the eye can see. A dedicated bike/pedestrian path along a low cliff overlooking it all.

For a dedicated beach lover and wanna-be-runner, there was probably no better setting for my very first outdoor run. At last.

Let me digress a bit just to give you a background about how I've finally gotten to this point - particularly because I almost didn't even allow myself to get this far.

If you guys remember, it was just a couple of weeks ago that I literally ran myself full tilt into knee trouble. Thankfully, one of the perks of working in a hospital is having physios on hand to evaluate me gratis, and after an impromptu consult, I was told what the problem was - I had almost-flat feet, with my left worse than my right. My nifty new shoes were probably not providing enough arch support for me, specially on the left. The fact that I was being TOO enthusiastic about things and escalating what I was doing almost every day without rest periods in between compounded the issue.

As a result, just a couple of weeks into my attempt at making my walking legs into running legs, I was getting symptoms of beginning runner's knee.

I was told in no uncertain terms to back off, at least until I was pain-free. I would have to go back to a lower degree of intensity in the program I was following and to take recovery days. I also had to get better arch support - or else.

Apparently, my spirit was willing, my heart and lungs were capable, but my ligaments and my feet were weak.

After being told off by the physios at work (you'd think I'd know these things being a doctor!), I had a good think about the whole running business. It was so frustrating to find out that I didn't seem to be biomechanically suited to the sport I'd chosen - after I'd already set goals for myself in it and convincing myself I could do it. Also there were, after all, a myriad other sports out there that were less impact on the knees and didn't require a person not to have flat feet - like biking and swimming - and I only had one pair of knees. I was seriously considering junking the idea altogether.

But after a few days of sulking and literally sleeping with an ice pack on my left knee, I figured I wouldn't be giving myself a fair chance if I gave up on it so quickly. So I went out and got a pair of off-the-shelf orthotics for my running shoes, (which initially felt like having golf balls under my arches but now feel great) and backed off on my treadmill work
(which meant endless workouts on the mind-blowingly boring elliptical machine for several days in lieu) until I could squat without having my left knee scream at me.

In a week, I was doing the prescribed runs on my C25K program to the letter on the days I could run - and taking full recovery days in between. I worked my way up to a full 30 minute run on the treadmill a few days ago - a little more that what I should be doing in Week 6 - but pain-free during and after. So I am being cautiously optimistic that my shoe inserts and my easing up on myself are doing the trick - and that I just may be able to continue my pursuit of this running thing after all.

To celebrate my first ever 30 minute run, I felt ready to take things outside. Hence my impulse trip to Cottesloe Beach armed with only my jogging shoes, dorky belt-bag, and one application of sunblock. (And, while off-topic, can I say again how awesome it is that I can actually commute to a beautiful beach any time I feel the urge to?)

Okay, maybe all I could work up to today was about 30 minutes of run - and a whole lot of walk (at least 5K total, I promise). Give me some time, I'm going to work my way to a solid 5K run soon and take things from there.

Nothing can take away from the reality that I actually ran along the Sunset Coast jogging path, wind cool against my face, water on one side, and open road as far as the eye can see. And I really can't imagine a better setting to discover that I can actually do something that I'd never imagined I'd ever do than this.


Manggy said...

Wow, congratulations! That's quite an achievement! Can't say I'm 100% confident enough to not have any reservations about your knee (by the way, talagang weakness ng non-rehab/ortho ang ganyan... It's not a very well put-together curriculum for students), but it looks like there's a lot of good results. Keep up the good work and have regular check-ups! :)

joe positive said...

good for you!

Timon Weller said...

Which beach in Australia is that, it looks nice... :)

dr_clairebear said...

@manggy: outdoor running appeals to my "lakwatsera" heart. it's way more addictive than treadmill running! ang saya! downside - it's going to wreak havoc on my skin once high summer is here...

@joe positive: thanks! :)

@timon weller: cottesloe beach is one of the more popular beaches along Perth, WA's long stretched of Sunset Coast, off the indian ocean. the beaches are white sand, and quite clean for beaches that are a stone's throw from the metropolitan area. :)