That's me on an early training run in Byron Bay when I weighed over 100 kg.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My pain is nothing, compared to theirs

Blow Out at 4km
This year I have trained very hard in attempt of my first marathon. I am also running to raise money for Amnesty International, an organisation I have been involved with since the 80's. The hardest part was dealing with the pain of transitioning to barefoot running. What kept me going was the thought that whatever pain I felt was insignificant compared to the pain suffered every day by those I am trying to help.

I made the transition to barefoot running as a strategy to continue training. Before ditching my expensive running shoes, debilitating knee pain prevented me running more than 4 or 5 kilometres — a long way short of the 42 km needed for a marathon. As soon as I ditched the shoes, the knee pain disappeared and longer training runs became possible.

However, a new problem arose: extremely sore soles. The literature advised transitioning to barefoot slowly, starting with 100 meters then gradually increasing the distance. To keep up with the distances in my training plan, I bought some Xeros which are very basic sandals that allow for barefoot-style running while offering some protection. They work well, but it’s much better to run completely barefoot, there is better biomechanical feedback and cadence and pace is higher. I decided to try to force a more rapid adaption of my soles than advised and went straight into 6, 7 and 8 kilometre barefoot runs on bitumen. It was at times extremely painful. Large blisters formed but I forced myself to continue running on them.

Whenever my raw feet and blisters screamed at me to stop, I would think about the cause and the people that I am trying to help. People who are thrown into prison indefinitely for simply expressing their belief, people who are routinely tortured, women who are repeatability beaten and flogged for simply being women, refugees who are abandoned without hope

I ran on and on. My pain was nothing compared to theirs.

Contributions to Amnesty can be made here. Every dollar helps.

Originally published in Medium