The past six months I have realised that running is so much more than a hobby or way to stay fit to me. It’s not only about setting goals and living a healthy lifestyle.
It’s a crazy, tiring, infuriating addiction! I’ve gotten to the point where I’m considering starting a support group called ‘Runners Anonymous’, and I have a suspicion I’m not alone in this. I can see myself standing up and saying ‘My name is Altie, and I’m a Running Addict.’
This addiction started about sixteen years ago and I don’t see myself kicking the habit any time soon. In the beginning my motives were quite simple, and my main driver for taking up exercise was to get my very much over weight body into shape. After getting in shape in my early twenties, sport became my very unlikely profession and I spent about 8 years cycling for my pay check. Even though this was an amazing experience that helped me to see the world, it wasn’t until 2010 after I retired from the sport professionally that I took running up again and became a complete hopeless addict.
What is worrying me a bit is the fact that I, like so many others, will do almost anything to get my daily fix. In 2016 I spent a lot of my time in the ECB Equine Spa to keep my very broken body from falling apart. I was so desperate for recovery I would drive over 40km to climb in a 2.5 degree hydro spa just so I could satisfy my distance junky needs. This led to me starting my own business in 2017 to help other crazy people do the same. I thought with the icy waters of the ECB Spa I had reached the pinnacle of ridiculousness in the pursuit of recovery, but this past weekend I saw that there were still more crazy lengths I would go to in order to fix myself.
I spent Saturday running 50km at the Mini Munga and managed to make a massive rookie mistake. I’m trying to save my good trail shoes for the 400km Munga coming up in April so ran with my older New Balance Leadville’s. Half of the run was on tar and running quite fast with a 6kg backpack my favourite injury decided to flare up because of old worn out shoes. Since 2014 I stared struggling with bursitis in my heel and every year after the 250km KAEM it takes a month or two for it to calm down and I can run with no pain again. I have managed to keep it completely under control with the help of the ice bath but after the 50km journey it was so sore that I was convinced it was the end of my running for the year. I fell into bed Saturday night in a massive depression, thinking I would have to cancel my upcoming ADDO and Munga Trail. I mentally prepared myself to, for the first time in my life, not do anything for about six months.
Coming from an equestrian background I sat down in a last desperate attempt thinking what else I could do to fix my foot. In a total sober moment I asked myself ‘If this was a horses foot what would I do?’. The answer was simple. ‘Poultice of course.’ I went ahead and raided our little horse pharmacy concocting a brew of smelly brown liquid (all herbal) mixed with Epson salts. I slathered my heel with it and bandaged it up. I struggled to sleep that night, not because my chocolate Labrador smells like feet or my body was aching after 8 hours on the trail that morning but because my actual foot, was wrapped in a horse bandage with witches brew oozing out the sides.
The most surprising thing is that Sunday morning I woke up with 70% less pain. I was still a bit negative and very confused with not being able to do what I always do on Sunday mornings and decided to spend the day drinking champagne. In my heart I had already made the decision to not run for six months because I was so very ‘injured’. My confusion however turned to elation when I woke up on Monday morning with absolutely no pain. Most people would ease back into activity in order to save themselves but I’m not really from that school of thought. I would rather have my body break and then I’m forced to rest for 8 weeks but it just won’t break! I have now run around 40km in the past two days and I don’t even know about my feet. It’s very obvious that my head is addicted but I think my heart and body is even more addicted to that amazing feeling you get when you hit the trails, see the sun rise, smell fresh mountain air or cross the finish line of a long difficult race. I have done some crazy things in the pursuit of the freedom that sport provide and know that I will probably one day run myself into massive trouble because of hard headedness and pure stupidity, but I hope to never change and always remember to appreciate every day I get to put on my running shoes and head outside. This addiction called running has provided me with literal highs on top of mountains and deep in deserts that make day to day life seem frighteningly mundane and that is why I will always be chasing after a new trail or unclimbed mountain.
I’m not sure what the future holds for the many niggles that riddle my body or what expiry date is stamped on my legs, but I will do everything in my power to keep my body in one piece so it can still take me on many adventures.
My name is Altie, and I’m a running addict!