Last year at this time I was in top running shape. I had just run 22 km – just over a half marathon. I couldn’t run the half marathon in Toronto but there would be one in Gurgaon when I was in Delhi so I signed up for that.
Unfortunately for me, though, the pollution was particularly bad at that time and I didn’t feel comfortable running. It certainly didn’t help that my Airbnb host in Mehrauli told me of a friend of hers who had just been diagnosed with lung cancer though he never smoked. His doctor said that his running while spending half of every year in Mumbai was a contributing factor.
And so I let my training go. I did one run in Delhi outside my tourist hotel compound. It wasn’t a bad run but I will admit that I felt extremely self conscious as there were a number of beggars there. I didn’t feel upset that they were asking me for help – though I couldn’t as I run with next to nothing. (Nothing to carry means nothing to lose). I didn’t feel the least bit unsafe, either. I did, however, feel keenly aware of my privilege: I was running in expensive clothes and shoes, wearing a GPS watch and heart monitor but couldn’t help anyone. I think it was a strong and important dose of perspective, but it wasn’t something I felt like I should be doing. I don’t think I’m able to articulate this well.
After that I did a couple of treadmill runs but then I let it slide. I wouldn’t run again until I got back to North America a month later. But then winter came which meant very little outdoor running in Toronto though there was a bit of running outside on business trips to Louisiana.
As spring came I got back in to it. I changed up my form a little bit, leaning forward to try to increase my speed. It seemed to work but it also did something else: it gave me terrible shin sprints. I took some time off and then went to the doctor to see what was up. They suggested orthotics and in August I went to get checked out and soon had a pair ready to go. They were a huge adjustment. I actually ended up a couple inches taller, but in the end that height advantage resulted in my feet popping out of the back of the shoes over and over. I was getting blisters walking around in my daily life. If I went for a run I’d be in agony. I went back to see if they could fix it and they couldn’t. At the same time I made my exercise routine more cycling-focused.
Now I’ve got a 2-3 week trip to Louisiana coming up. I leave on Wednesday. With the second highest cyclist fatality rate of any state in the US, you won’t catch me on the road there. Stories like this and this don’t help either. But I was waiting for my orthotic situation to be fixed so I figured I’d have to travel without exercising. As someone for whom exercise is a huge mood lifter, this is not a good thing. But I was waiting for my orthotics to be figured out. And then it occurred to me.
Last year at this time I was able to run 22 km (13 miles) without them. Surely if I take it easy I might be able to do a bit of running. And so today I went out.
I headed out after work. I only did about 3 km – less than a half hour but I had forgotten about how much I liked it. It’s not only a way to exercise, it’s a way to listen to good music and look at the beauty of my city.
When I run I usually just see where my whim takes me and today I headed east across the Don River and then north. But then I noticed a path under some power lines and turned there. Before long I was on a nearby mountain bike trail. Trail running means lower impact and that means better treatment of my shins. It also meant some beautiful fall scenery.
So far no discomfort though even that little 3 km (with a number of hills, mind you), was a bit more challenging than it would’ve been last year. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to run some while I’m in Louisiana. The next challenge for me will be to find a way to enjoy a part of the world I don’t particularly like. I’ve done it before, so let’s see if I can do it again. Likely I just need to take my own advice on the subject of enjoying business travel. However it goes you can bet I will keep you posted.