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A running story.

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This is not meant to be a waffling story, the main story was written on a PDA (Personnel Digital Assistant) while taking public transport during a leg/knee injury, then I had to correct it a few times and move bits of the story around on my home computer to make it read better.
Parts of the story started many years ago during my apprenticeship, the running lasted very well until I moved closer to the city and lost the country roads to jog along, but that is no excuse, the real excuse is when I had niggling stress fracture in one foot, and needed time off to get rid of it, but never really got back into it with real dedication. Then my running turned into a off and on affair (more off than on), back then when I started, I was a "six day week jogger" very seldom did I run seven days a week, in fact just a month or so before I wrote this story for Internet I ran up to fifty consecutive mourning runs of half a hour or more before injury rest came along. Some of those mornings I used to start my morning run some days feeling "had it", So I got some multivitamin powder you shake up with milk, except I used water and it gave my extra power I did not think I had and that´s were a injury came in.
It was a bit hard to write this story because it is interrelated between the running and walking, and the time difference. The strange thing is I thought I was a good walker, if you know the Auckland area well, I used to leave work at Pakuranga and think "dam it I have walk to Panmure", then just walk a few hundred meters down the road and catch a bus, you know when you have been converted to a good walker, when you leave work thinking "dam it, I have walk to Panmure again", then when I got to Panmure thinking "well now I am here, I may as walk all the way home". Believe me same the attitude problem happened later when I got back in to running, I used to wake up in the morning, thinking "why not sleep in", then, think "it is either run or take the pills the doctor gave me". One day I woke up, and thought "I think I might go back to sleep", then thought "I think I will just get out of bed" followed by "I think I will just get into my running cloths" followed with, "I better go to the toilet, then it was " I´m ready, I may as well go". Before I reached fifty consecutive morning runs I found I don´t have any problem getting started now, even in freezing mornings when I put on two polo shirts before going out.

So if you are thinking of getting into walking or running I hope this story can give you some useful tips.

Walking.

It was only a few years ago l was happy taking a three zone bus trip to work, as the months dragged on, I got sick of waiting at bus stops. Three buses would come at the same time that could take you to same place, if you missed one of those buses you would have to wait half a hour or sometimes longer for the next group of buses to come along, I just do not know why the bus company could not run the buses ten minutes apart instead of three each half hour after all most people would get off and on between Auckland city center and Pakuranga were all the buses would run. The same bus company had different prices for the concession card, the zone fare was slightly cheaper than the stored value. Sometimes I would catch a bus somewhere along the three zone trip and I would ask for the fare to be taken off the cash value, whoops too late! just lost a three zone fare for a one zone trip. Once when I brought it to the drivers attention he gave me the lost value of the trip out of his pocket, because it was impossible to give me a refund the the bus management way, so the next day I made sure I got the same driver and gave him his money back, then nobody lost or gained.
I thought why not do a bit of walking instead of waiting for the buses, I felt as if my life was disappearing waiting for buses at bus stops, so I gave it a go one day, I walked to work, one hour fifty minutes roughly. That first day I walked to work, it was about five or ten minutes before I could regain enough energy to walk up the stairs at work. Later on when I was walking from home to work each day, I did not have any trouble going up and down the stairs just like the days when I used to take the bus to work.
When I decided enough was enough from the buses, I thought I would walk the distance in stages, taking a two zone bus trip and walking the last zone, then after a while take a one zone trip and walking two zones, before long I was walking the complete equivalent three zone bus trip twice a day (three and half hours a day). I was going through a new pair of shoes every month. The boss had a outside swimming pool so I was able to have quick dunk as soon as I got to work, from all the times I had a swim, there was only one frosty day near the middle of 2004 were I said "brrrrrr.." as I got into the pool. Of course in winter the plan was to get in, do a length of the pool and back fast, get out fast, and dry myself fast.

In the wet weather I had to take another complete set of cloths wrapped up in plastic bags so they did not get wet in my hiker bag on my back. I used to carry a bag when I went to work that I used while going to night school, that was a real pain, even walking a kilometer or so, but with a hiker style bag on ones back, one enjoys walking for kilometers and kilometers. It is not so bad getting to work totally saturated wet when you have another set of cloths to get into and another pair of dry shoes at work, in fact it makes you feel good, better than why you have to be at work in the first place. I tried one of those water proof leggings to go over the trousers to keep the trousers dry in the wet weather, but they only work for about half a hour, then the sweat from your legs builds up and wets your trousers, making the water proof clothing totally useless, so now you know how I get totally saturated wet wearing a rain coat.

When you are walking to work on a typical dry summer day of half a hour or more (when you don´t have to take another set of cloths with you) take a spare shirt with you, changing into a fresh shirt as soon as you get too work is a good idea, it soaks up any residual sweat off your skin, and I have found I feel a lot better after I have put on another shirt compared to the odd day when I leave home in rush and forgotten to put anther spare shirt into my bag.

I tried walking with colored shirts, but found the sweat highlights the color and makes it darker, while you think this might be strange it makes me think, why use color shirts when white shirts are sometimes cheaper to buy, not only that easier to wash, you just dunk them in bleach even when the instruction tell you not too and they are still just as good to wear.
During some parts of the year it is too cold to wear just a shirt, in which case it best to have two or three jumpers you can wear during the week.

In the hot summer days you can get dehydrated, that is when you are busting yourself to go for a leak and when you get there only a small spoonful amount comes out, it is really dark yellow, and it hurts coming out. The trick here is too get a old plastic soft drink bottle and half full it with water, then put it in the freezer, before you set off for your walk, full the bottle up with tap water, that will slightly melt the ice and cools the water, otherwise after a hour of walking with a full bottle of ice you still have mostly ice in the bottle.
My watch went faulty, before I could afford a good replacement, I used a cheap two dollar watch, it was not water resistant so it foged up about forty minutes into the walk, (interesting, at school we used to joke about our water resistant watch, none of us would go for a swim with our watches on just because our watch said it was water resistant)
Then I got a new job that was closer to home and took a liking to afghan biscuits, after months of dedicated consumption of these lovely biscuits (130 millimeter diameter), Then I had a spell of migraine headaches, were my vision would go all sort of blurry for about half a hour, then as my vision cleared up, I would be left with a headache. My doctor took my blood pressure it was high 180/90, so then I quickly knocked my lovely biscuits off my daily diet at work, and found I lost a couple of kilograms in a few days, I now think of them as giant cholesterol pills and stay away from them.

I love these “Giant Cholesterol Pill”.

Afghan biscuit or Giant cholesterol pill

Afghan biscuit.

Maybe a little smaller than normal size.

I thought my 90 minute walk each day would burn off any bad effect from that biscuit, obvious not, obvious I did not think of moderation. My doctor gave me some pills called "Betalok". As always now when I get new medication I go on Internet to learn about them, there can be a lot of information on Internet that your doctor or chemist does not tell you. It seems that with all tablets to reduce blood pressure you can not suddenly stop taking them or you will be in big trouble, I never took any and I even walked to the doctor a different route to avoid a steep hill that might push my blood pressure up, the next time I went to the doctor he said "those pills are beginning to work your blood pressure is coming down" after another visit he seemed a little confused why the results were still a bit high. As a person who has tinnitus (ringing in the ears) I knew that a good morning jog could bring down blood pressure, It only took about four months of dedicated mourning jogging, take off a few days for the odd running injury mentioned in this story it would be a good three months and the doctor took my blood pressure 130/80 he said "I am happy with that".

While my blood pressure was high I was thinking about getting a blood pressure monitor, so I had a look at the web site from the local the electronic shop and you will never believe it, the blood pressure monitor that fits to your wrist were on special at half price, so it was now or never, at $50 a better bargain than what return I have had on $50 worth of lotto tickets that I have spent over a year or so. Getting these things to work correctly s a bit tricky. It might pay to read the instructions before you purchase the device, (only to see if you can read and follow instructions) basically you have to keep cool and not do anything for half an hour before using them, reading between the lines don´t even think of eating bake beans the night before, the key point is to keep your wrist at the same level as your heart.
I tried one night every hour or so while working at my computer and got some very strange results like "117 over 60" I am not a doctor, but, "I don´t think so." For best results I found, is to leave it near your bed before you go to sleep and take it as soon as you wake up the next morning.

One day during that four months it rained very heavy at work, so heavy in fact, the boss was able to sneak up on me, latter that night after work I was just minutes away from getting home when it started to rain as I jump in between two shop verandas I tore a leg muscle, I sure did feel it go, I tried walking different ways, the best was sideways. Later on I was offered pain killers, I refused, I think since I still have to walk from time to time, the pain is there to tell us not to use these injured muscles, if we take pain killers, it is only going aggravate these muscles and slow down the recovery time, I took the next day off work. On the second day I used public transport and did a lot of walking at work that day, I modified the way I walk to reduce the pain, I thought I would have to rush home after work and put ice on my leg, but as I walked across the train station to catch a train that late afternoon on the way home, I felt better that what I felt in the morning. The next leg injury I had, about a month or so later, I suddenly seemed to have lost power in one leg and had to work home, the interesting thing was compared to the torn muscle, it hurt a lot less, I did not need to take time off work, it hurt more going down hill, but it took about twice as long to heal.

By the way a google search on Internet tells us that most people have a walking speed at 4.8 kph or three miles per hour, I don´t mean to skite but my walk is slightly faster at 6.4 kph or four miles per hour, that seems to be the same speed as the army walks, The real good thing about walking faster you burn off more fat.

Running.

Many years ago I used to live at Papakura and jog out around the country (Ardmore) each morning not long later, I got a sore knee, my doctor gave me Brufen "anti-inflammatory tablets", the tables worked great when I was taking them, but after the prescription run out the sore knee would came back. The same doctor also gave me methylsalicylate (oil of wintergreen) for other sore muscles, that had a great smell. I used to spread all over my knee and any other part of the leg when I had sore muscles, you have to be careful to wash your hands thoroughly, even then you can get this on other part of the skin that can take the fun out of using "wintergreen" just lately I have been using plastic bags wrapped over my hand, if you have a bit Scottish blood and too tight to purchase disposable gloves, make sure the bags don´t have any tiny holes in them, (or even use two plastic bags for extra safety) I have been trying out plastic bags you put fruit in at the supermarket and the thicker bags you get at the supermarket checkout. then you just throw the used bag into the rubbish bin, that can really add a lovely smell to your smelly rubbish bin, unfortunately it only last for a few days. Since I was first introduced to "wintergreen" there is a new product out now it does not smell as powerful as "wintergreen", it is called "Precutane" when I first put it on before my walk I thought "GREAT I had to buy one from a dud batch" but then as you start to exercise the muscle, then you really feel the heat there, later on that day as I started to walk home I thought "dam it, I forgot to put some more Precutane on my leg" but further down the road I could feel the Precutane working again.
After a couple of visits to my doctor for the sore knee, someone at work told me to go and visit a sports doctor, he sent me off to chiropodist or a podiatrist (foot specialist), The chiropodist gave me a orthotic to put in my shoe. I must be honest, that worked a lot better than the pills and a lot cheaper than the doctors visits, It appears that with some people it is the way the foot lands on the ground it twist the lower leg and it is the knee that is the weakest link. Some years later after moving to another city the next chiropodist took a cast of my foot and made a custom made orthotic.
Custom made Orthotic

Custom made Orthotic.

Orthotics will stop those shoes wearing down on a angle.

The one shown in the photo was made by a third chiropodist, they offered about six different colors, I had a bit of trouble getting a photo of the afghan, then I had to brighten it up, I must of subconsciously gone for the yellow which would show up good on a photo. One point to remember is to use good running shoes not ex-walking shoes even if those shoes are suitable for running from what I am told you walk and run to a different footstep pattern. After many months of jogging my ringing in the ears went away, Then I moved into the city or should I say, there was no country side to jog around like Papakura had. Sometimes when you jog at night you might get the odd stupid motorist would go past and someone from the car would yell out "jogger jim", (something you do not get when you run in the morning) along with trying to dodge the night traffic. But then I also had a stress fracture in my foot and my interest in jogging was not so strong and the ringing in the ears came back some time later. When I first started running a lot I never seemed to get the flu like I used to, in fact I don´t think I had the flu at all.

On my earlier runs I used a track suit, but now or at the moment, just run in shorts and tee shirt (or should I say polo shirt) I used to hung my track suit up inside to let it dry off, after a few days it lost it´s freshness. But now I hung the polo shirts on the clothesline, surprising at it might seem even after a week or more it still seems fresh, there is just one problem with that, when it rains you still have wet shirt for the next morning, the good thing is tee, polo shirts are cheap, the most polo shirts I have had on the cloths line waiting for the next dry day to dry them out is four.

Don´t forget to keep heat/cold packs in the freezer, you never know when you might need them. My Physiotherapist suggested a pack of frozen peas make a good alternative, but make sure you don´t eat the peas after about the third time. The idea is when you injure a muscle the frozen pack helps placed over the injury area for no longer than 20 minutes reduce the bleeding, that in turn speeds up the healing time. The special ice packs are good they do not freeze in the freezer like plan water does making the pack very cold and fixable, also you can get bean bags that you can be put in the freezer and microwave, I found the bean bags do not get so cold in the freezer as the ice packs do, but then you are less likely to get frost burn/frostbite.

Just one last comment, don´t worry if you have to stop jogging and walk a while because you get puffed out when you start running. I used to think "well at least I made a effort" keep it up and in a week or so time you can do the whole trip without having a walk break.

Swimming.

You can not beat fast walking or jogging, it must be the cheapest way to exercise (when you don´t get any injuries) another option for good cardiovascular exercise would be swimming. I really enjoyed Auckland´s Newmarket Olympic swimming pool when it was outdoor, the only problem was it was only opened for the summer, but the best part of that was to always go when it rained and most times you had the whole pool to yourself. I used to start off the new season and do a dozen lengths of the pool and get out of the pool dizzy, what a great feeling that was. Drug dealers eat your heart out, I am sure you would never feel that good getting dizzy taking drugs. But now the pool is indoor, they built a few movie theaters over the swimming pool making it open all year round. Late in the year 2005, I got put off when suffered bad leg cramp after about eight lengths or so. Near the middle of August 2006 I thought I better get back to it, in fact I did 15 or was it 17 lengths of the pool, I lost count after lap 13. During that visit I never had any cramp. I am not sure if it was because that was a morning swim were as the others were a evening swims or whether it was because of that multi-vitamin power I was having. I was lead to believe from one doctor, that it appears when you get cramp, make a note were it is so you don´t forget, it appears next time you go to a doctor they might be able to help. Then some people say put a bit more salt in your diet (which makes your body retain more water), but that is not the best way to look after yourself, the better solution might be to take "Magnesium tablets" as a chemist shop suggested. However my Physiotherapist said "Cramp is caused by dehydration," just keep drinking eight glasses (two liters of water) each day or more and do not drink so much tea or coffee, interesting enough a few years ago I had very big cup at work for drinking tea, then on a blood test I failed the kidney results, so I cut back on the tea and drank more water, on the next blood test I past on the kidney results.
At one stage for a short time some years ago, I was working out in the field doing home electronic repairs, I used to try and arrange my daily work schedule so I was near one of the local swimming pool in Auckland and have a swim for lunch break.

The main pool at Newmarket Olympic swimming pool by the way is 50 Metres and was used for the British Empire Games (Commonwealth games) in 1950.

Homework.

Do a google search on "ice treatment" if you don´t know about I.C.E. treatment already or R.I.C.E.for that matter
Rest,
Ice,
Compression &
Elevate.
www.google.co.nz, ice treatment, search.

Links.

http://www.healthysteps.co.nz "Healthy steps" program for walking and eating. You can get a useful pedometer for ten dollars.

http://www.theolympic.co.nz Newmarket Olympic swimming pool, a bit of a hard web site to find, and when you find their web site, their opening hours is hard to find,
Opening hours are:
Monday To Friday 5:45am - 10:00pm.
Saturday and Sunday 7:00am - 8:00pm.