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Mindfully Not Running aka The Art of Injury


A week ago I ran into a wheelie bin and fell over a very slightly inclining area of tarmac on the same evening. I regarded these events with amusement and detached curiosity. I somehow did not relate them to the weird numbness in the ball of my right foot.

Woops. Not so mindful after all...

I took two days off running after furiously googling my symptoms and inching reluctantly towards panic stations. On Saturday morning I went for a 5km run on grass. The foot felt weird but not too bad. However, trying to walk into town later in the day it cramped up something nasty and I spent the rest of the day with my foot elevated on a bag of frozen peas.

Tuesday came and I'd been moping (and not running) for three solid days: bemoaning my situation and generally being an absolute delight. I messaged the friends I'm going to Paris with to dramatically warn them that I would be joining the cheer squad rather than running and prepared myself to hear the worst from the physio that evening.

And then, finally, I sat down and took some breaths. It wasn't a long meditation, just a Tiny Pause. A few moments of sitting upright and breathing deeply to anchor me. This helped unravel the neurotic tailspin into which I'd somewhat gleefully thrown myself. I picked up Zen and The Art of Running and turned to the section on injury. Buddha was quite right, nothing is permanent. If I were not to run Paris then my hard work would be anything but lost. The beauty of training is that it got my body and mind into a shape it's not been in before and regardless of what happens next, that's pretty amazing. The only moment that exists is this one, right now. The past is no more, the future has not happened yet.

And what of this moment? I'm happy, I have messages on my phone from a plethora of concerned friends and colleagues, I'm breathing and my body is telling me to chill out. Cool down. Take it easy.

This little reset put me in a completely different place. The pain in my foot became almost a delight. 'Oh hello there foot, is it ice you're wanting? How can I massage you today? How clever you are telling me what you need!' The cogs all turned at once and I realised that this was a real test of my ability to tune into myself through mindfulness. To detach from the thoughts and feelings and ultimately rejoice in the challenge, turn poison into medicine. If I'm serious about this mindfulness stuff, this is the time to commit.

I saw myself in a pivotal state. It was time. Time to invest more in myself and my running, learn more about my body, become a better runner and a better coach. To go deeper in my mindfulness practice to mine the benefits for myself and others.

The pain in my foot became an opportunity. After Paris I'll be working with Beth Carter at LetsGetRunning to get stronger, faster and healthier. And in the meantime I'm digging out Mindfulness in Eight Weeks and an array of highlighters...

PS. Full foot update coming soon

#marathontraining #mindfulness #runningcoach #injury

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