Posts Tagged Motorhead

Run Till You’re Sick

“Running the miles, pretty damn quick. Run through the wilds. Run till you’re sick”

(Going To Mexico, Motörhead, from the album “Aftershock”)

I have finished my six weeks in running purgatory (See “Too Fit To Run” 5/4/14) and visited a new cardiologist, one who looks fit, has Tour de France athletes on his books and seems to understand the concept of exercise. I passed my follow up heart test which means that, as my fitness level drops, my heart rate comes back into the “normal” range. Apparently there is “normal” and there is “normal”. Unfortunately my “normal” is closer to the “needs a pacemaker” kind of normal. But for now I can run again.

In order to try and keep my heart under control I have been put on a modified program of two weeks hard running, two weeks moderate running, two weeks no running, for 18 weeks (three cycles). Then I have a heart stress test and repeat heart monitor assessment. If all is good I assume that will be my foreseeable future. If all is not good then it’s back to the drawing board.

And I am allowed to run a marathon because I don’t have any myocardial scarring. The cardiologist was quite disparaging about my previous marathon result. Apparently, if it takes me four hours to complete a marathon, then I am not running nearly hard enough to damage my heart.

I guess that’s good news but I don’t think I will take up that particular challenge, at least not this year. After six weeks off I feel understandably sluggish and slow. I dare say that will all improve reasonably rapidly but, for now, I think I will confine myself to half marathons and see what happens.

Dr. F. Bunny

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Marathon Man

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?”

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” John F. Kennedy (http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm)

So too my son and I chose to run the Melbourne Marathon last Sunday, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. Little did I realise exactly how hard it was going to be. I have been running for five years, gradually building up my distance and endurance. When I completed the half marathon in July in good time with relatively few aches and pains I felt ready to embark on the real thing. Little did I realise that a marathon is so much more than twice a half marathon. My previous longest run was 24 km and that lack of 30+ km experience came back to bite me on the day.

I completed the first half of the marathon with relative ease because my body was used to the pounding it received over that distance. But after about 25 km the legs began wondering what was happening and why we had not gone to collect our drink and finisher’s medal.

I ran on, inspired by a particularly energetic Motörhead track blasting into my ears. I began to set myself small goals to avoid thinking about how far I still had to run. A little cheer erupted in my head when I hit the 30 km mark. After 32 km I knew that the remaining kilometres could now be measured in single digits. Unfortunately the knowledge didn’t stop me flagging to the extent that, around 34 km, a fellow runner felt compelled to give me an encouraging pat on the back as she glided past. Still, I was doing better than that poor fellow lying on the stretcher, surrounded by paramedics, with a drip in his arm.

At 35 km there were only seven kilometres to go. Seven kilometres! I often ran seven kilometres. I could easily manage seven kilometres. Are you joking? There are still seven kilometres to go! And then the heavens opened up but I was in too much pain to notice. I kept slowing to a walk, willing myself back into a run and then, when the knee pain got too much, dropping back to a walk. At 37 km the inspirational speech given at the start of Tough Mudder (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUwXTfWxCTM) burst into my ears. I “hoorahed” myself back into a run.

Turning the corner at 40 km, two kilometres from home, it felt like someone stuck a knife into my right knee. I crumpled but didn’t go over, dimly aware that an official photographer was busy recording every grimace to sell to me later. I slowed to a walk, a stumble, a shuffle. I figured I could manage the last two kilometres even if I had to crawl over the line, but that was not how I wanted to go out. I kept trying different running techniques to ease the pain in the knee: turning the leg outwards or shuffling sideways. I even contemplated running backwards. All around other runners ran past me.

I felt despondent, and then I saw the light towers of the MCG, the world’s greatest sporting stadium, the magnificent home of Australian Rules Football. The final 400 metres involved running a lap on the hallowed turf. No way was I going to walk this. I gritted my teeth and propelled myself into a lopsided, stumbling jog. I ran into the stadium, the stands of that great arena surrounding me. At 200 metres I stumbled and almost fell, but had just enough energy left to pass one final runner before collapsing over the finish line into the arms of my waiting son (I encouraged him to go on ahead at 25 km when it became obvious that I could no longer keep up). Sobbing and laughing simultaneously I felt so incredibly proud of us both.

As the adrenalin finally left my body I was utterly and totally spent. I had given my all, could barely move and felt close to passing out. A banana and a Powerade managed to restore some semblance of normality.

Now, three days later, I still feel tremendously buoyed by our accomplishment. I am sure family and friends are well and truly sick of hearing about it, which is why I thought I would tell you.

No doubt there are many who would consider this to be a ridiculously foolhardy expenditure of energy. Why run 42.2 km when you can drive that distance in a fraction of the time with absolutely no pain involved? I think this is one of the things that define us as a species. Had we taken the easy way and not risen to the challenge, made the effort or sacrificed our comfort I suspect we would all still be living in caves finger painting on the walls.

And now, I am going to have a nice lie down.

Dr. F. Bunny

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Leave It On The Track

After our walk on the Kokoda Track we were shown an ABC video depicting one of the trek leaders escorting a group of troubled youths for a stroll down the Track. Troubled youths seem to be regularly dragged along on these sorts of intense experiences in the belief that enormous physical effort, coupled with copious volumes of sweat, will somehow lead to an epiphany that will change their lives forever. They were exhorted by the trek leader to take whatever negative event had lead them from the straight and narrow and leave it on the track, starting afresh upon their return to the land of electricity and hot water. While this does seem to have some potential merit with people occasionally claiming that the effort had indeed transformed them, I can’t say it had any kind of similar effect on my son or me.

Although the exertion was extreme and the result extremely satisfying I failed to leave any of my issues on the track. It struck me that, while we were all walking along in total silence, the exertion being too great to permit free speech, I should have been doing something more useful with my thinking time like composing a great novel, devising a solution to a complex problem, working through a personal issue or exorcising some demons that were causing me grief. Instead the internal jukebox fired up and I spent most of the walk with a loop of random songs coursing through my brain; the most oft repeated ones being “Sacrifice” by Motörhead, “Minority” by Green Day and “I Was Only 19” by Redgum.

The rest of the time my mind appeared to be wool gathering, arbitrary thoughts flying through my brain, some getting caught in the perpetual loop, others only momentarily passing through. Any time I tried to embark on a complicated and extended train of thought we began a sharp and hazardous descent and, after almost tripping over a tree root or nearly falling face first into the mud, I was forced to bring my thoughts back and actually concentrate on walking the Track.

So, no great revelations. It was just the joy of labour and the chance to get away from civilization’s little annoyances for a week. I can’t say I missed our modern world. After a week of living by head torch and candlelight the thing that struck me the most was how incredibly bright our electrical life is. I felt like the mobile phone screen was burning my retinas when I first turned it on.

There was, however, one thing I did leave on the track, and that was any life changing resolutions I might have come up with. While I did not miss the various things that were unavailable to me while they were unavailable, now that they are once again available I don’t have the strength to resist the booze, leave the TV turned off, ignore my emails or keep getting up at 5.30 and going to bed at 8.00. I have just returned to become the same person I was before I left, which isn’t really such a bad thing, is it?

Dr. F. Bunny

 

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