Torn. Stopped in My Tracks.

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Muscles of lower extremity
Muscles of lower extremity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was down at Bondi just after Christmas teaching some friends how to surf. It has been a while since I had been back in the water. Too long. I was running in the soft sand in thigh deep water when my heel gave way due to the softness of the surface as I pushed off to stride.

You know that moment when you have torn something? You can feel it. Unmistakable. Your body almost assesses the damage, and you know instinctively how bad the tear might be. In this case, I had torn my right calf muscle (gastocnemius torn through excessive dorsi flexion). I think I tore more than a few fibres because there was a significant loss of mobility.

Needless to say, the tear put paid to my plans to commence this running stunt towards the end of February. I spoke this over with my running coach, Bob Williams from Portland, Oregon. Bob has been particularly helpful in reviewing exactly what I hope to achieve by running, and how I intend to do that. So there will be some changes, but the concept remains intact.

Meanwhile, the journey continues. The conversation continues to build, albeit slowly. This is more than just about running. And maybe the injury from that perspective is a welcome development. It has given me good cause to focus more intently on the issue itself: child mortality, and how together we might influence a reduction.

So where to from here? To start, the last couple of weeks I have taken the opportunity to step back and get some perspective. That has been helpful, and more on that in the coming blog posts.

First step: begin by designing the ‘Design Forum’. This is not something for me to do on my own, but is an invitation for many to come together in helping to address where we might take this conversation. It is about us, not about me.

Secondly: towards the end of this month, I will return to Seoul by invitation of our Ambassador to attend a number of activities coinciding with Australia Day in my work helping others to strengthen their connections between Australia and Korea. While I am there, I will be visiting the publisher for the book ‘Life Bridge’ to commence making the book which funds this journey a reality. For many of you, this book has been a long time coming, and I want to thank you especially for your patience and encouragement. Publishing the book first I think is a good move to better communicate the central idea behind all of this. I would hope to have the book published around April.

Thirdly: in terms of running, that is on hold until I am better recovered. I responded well to physio, and am back in the pool deep water running and swimming. It is likely that the running will focus on the UN General Assembly to take place in New York at the end of September. It is also worth noting that the UN has moved the dialogue onto a post-Millenium Develop Goals agenda, which is a welcome development although it takes the pressure off the hook for the next three years.

Stopped in my tracks, but only briefly. The body has amazing restorative ability, and I will come back stronger and fresh ready for the road ahead. In the meantime, there is work to do. Thanks for being part of the journey.


Training Log: Injuries and Shin Splints

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Muscles of the front of the leg.
Muscles of the front of the leg.

Over the last three weeks I have developed a pain on the lower inner shin of my left leg, close to the ankle. The pain developed to the point where running wasn’t possible- too painful. What was it?

I couldn’t work out of it was just overtraining (this might have contributed, but wasn’t the injury), sore muscle or tendon (difficult to isolate the pain to a discrete area or movement- it does relate more to the stepping up and off when running), or ‘shin splints’ which is an expression used for small damage on the calf muscles when they start to pull away from the shin bone due to overuse.

I rested, iced, applied massage and acupuncture…

Stretching and strengthening seemed to have the best result, although not an immediate or quick fix to the injury. It is awesome to feel your body responding to exercise or stretching as you feel the muscles loosen and fill with blood.

It feels as though there is some congealed gunk from a past injury hiding inside the leg which is wanting to escape. I don’t think I have fully recovered yet, but am developing clear signs of healing.

Shin splints are best avoided, rather than treated. They are both treated and avoided by strengthening the muscles on the front of the lower leg through exercises like walking on your toes and walking on your heels.

Consequently, because of the injury I have decided to postpone (again) the start of the running until 24 November. That will see me finish in Seoul before 23 November.

So what about the G20 and the petition…how does that all work in with this delay?

Actually, it becomes more important, as it should be. The focus always ought to have been on what ‘we’ are doing as individuals, with the run as a symbolic act for the event.

The design challenge which frames the petition is being pushed out now. Looking back, to try and ramp up the petition and design challenge while I was running would have been too much to ask. The G20 remains pivotal, next to the role individual’s play. As a collection of global citizens, the question remains: is there anything we can do aside from sublimate ourselves through an organisation? can we bring any meaningful pressure to bear on the G20 itself?

Starting running 12 days after the G20 ends gives time to analyse the decisions made by the G20 leaders. It gives a focus to what is being asked for in the petition.

Each delay is not a failure. It is a prototype. This is a necessary step in moving forward.

In the meantime, I am doing everything to help my leg heal and be fully fit to run on 24 November.

Training log: October- Pain and Doubts. Running into uncertainty.

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Title: Amelia Earhart wearing a dress standing...
Title: Amelia Earhart wearing a dress standing beside a plane, circa 1928 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October remains a memorable month in my training and preparation. Injury, delays and perseverance to move forward.

I delayed the start of the 10 City Bridge Run three times during the month, often to the frustration of others. The delays were unwanted but also welcome, and caused through insufficient funding and concerns about how the petition would be delivered in Seoul. I still have some concerns about financial backing to ensure that I do not come unstuck half-way through the event.

Delaying the start until the beginning of the G20 Summit was a good decision for a more meaningful delivery of the petition. Analysing other G20 Summits, there is such a media circus and gathering of interest groups that a petition would have had negligible meaning and just been lost in the crowd. Now the decisions that are made (or not made) by the G20 leaders become the focus for the petition, which is a tool to appeal for action holding the leaders to account for the decisions they made.

Early in the month I had great discomfort around my ankles particularly through overtraining combined with insufficient stretching. I introduced more stretches, along with ‘dynamic stretches’ which soon overcame the reduced range of movement and pain.

Throughout the month I have experience significant discomfort in different parts of my calves, which was mostly muscle pain and something that is not uncommon among distance runners.

Presently, since last Wednesday ‘shin splints’ located on the inner left shin became almost unbearable running where running a few metres was not possible. I have been resting my legs and doing a lot of stretching and strengthening exercises. I expect to be fully fit to run by 11 November.

Delays and injury create their own problems with mental preparation creating doubts and uncertainty. Delaying the start of the event creates the hassle of reorganising everything, and concerns over credibility in the eyes of others. This is more a question of perseverance and learning to accept that things change. Ultimately, I have to accept that while I can set a schedule I am not ultimately in control because of the influence of external factors.

I take inspiration from the words of the great aviator Amelia Earhart who was reported missing in 1937 and declared dead in 1939. She truly was a trailblazer”

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.