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Depth Over Distance

Ben Howard has a lovely song called Depth over Distance. I’ve been humming it all day so I decided to listen to it as I haven’t heard it in ages.

It’s a stunning song, especially this live version. It’s the title that interests me though, in relation to mindfulness.

I’m new to mindfulness and sometimes I find it a fantastic experience and other times I get frustrated. At the moment I really like all the breath work – The body work is a whole different experience that I will talk about again.

I find it easier to focus on my breath and to refocus on my breath after I get caught in thought, but after around 15 minutes I sometimes begin to feel real discomfort in my body, even though I’m not doing any body work.

I know this is something I need to work with and I will. But maybe just for now I need to try 10 minutes at a time and, for the time being, it’s going to be about depth over distance.



Neuralgia – to medicate or not?

That is the Question.

I have a form of Neuralgia. What is that? My description of the pain is – random severe nerve pain all around and behind my left ear, leaving me unable to concentrate, speak and function when it’s at it’s worst.

The pain can last from a couple of minutes to, more recently, a couple of hours. It overshadows everything else that is happening and if I can, I just head for the bed. That doesn’t shift it, nothing does, but at least all I have to do is lie there.

It strikes when I’m driving, in work, out with friends, out running… anywhere and everywhere. It also strikes every single night, waking me. It’s nerve pain, so pain killers won’t even touch it.

I could no longer take the random attacks and a while ago decided to get it investigated. It started with a visit to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist… he found nothing, then a CT scan of my brain…. nothing.

Then two and a half hours in an MRI machine getting five scans of my brain. That was not a whole lot of fun but meditation kept me ok and still.

The results of that…. nothing.. all clear. Which of course is good news as there was no sign of MS, strokes, tumors etc…. so after all of these tests my neurologist confirmed that, by process of elimination, I do have Neuralgia of the fifth nerve that wraps around my ear.

I have tried three different hard core medications to ease the pain including anticonvulsant meds and tricyclic antidepressants. At certain dosage these meds are very effective at treating nerve pain and many other issues.

They both came with horrible side effects including shaking, unbelievable drowsiness, chronic thirst, problems with my sight, restlessness, weight gain, huge forgetfulness, swollen glands and basically being off my trolly! I took varying doses of these meds, increasing the dose with my doctors guidance.

A proceedure called Gamma Knife was suggested which is radio therapy into the nerve in my head. This option scared me so I decided to try acupuncture. He worked his magic and it really did work but it’s just not financially viable to keep up a weekly appointment I’m afraid.

I’ve just visited a Pain Specialist in the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry – what a gaff! – and have now been booked in for a procedure involving needles into my neck and skull… I can’t even think about it.. to treat my wonky nerve. I may have preferred the Gamma Knife procedure!

This consultant has suggested I try the antidepressant medication in a low dose and just at night time. And I don’t know what to do.

I bought them; they’re up beside my bed. Perhaps at this lower dose they will be side effect free but it’s only after three weeks you begin to see any results.

You see, they are altering the chemicals in my brain and I’m not sure I’m cool with that.

But does that trump the random pain?

I think I’ll sleep on it.


Breaking the rules – 20 weeks to the Dublin City Marathon

The fabulous Gary Crossan, my Marathon Coach for the Amphibian King Operation 42km, was in touch with me on Monday last with my orders for last week… 3 x 20min runs. I was dead set on sticking to it, even thought I’m bricking it that I’ll never make the distance – but he’s the expert and has done this hundreds of time. I am a complete novice.

I was being restricted in my runs so my shin splints could heal a little and I ended up going against the professional advice, even though I swore I wouldn’t do it. I was actually really surprised with myself when I went over on not one, not two but all three of my runs! The last one I went over spectacularly by a whopping 25mins. What a wally! I felt like such an eejit telling him.

So, from now on I do things by the book. I trust in Gary to get me to the start and finish line in October. This week is 3x20mins running with 4x20mins on the foam roller.

So for the moment it’s Depth over Distance….

A small wobble…

I should have been giving weekly updates for my Amphibian King 42km Challenge towards running the Dublin Marathon… but…. every time I set off for a run I had a recurring thought, over and over, with every step….

I can’t possibly run a marathon, I’m struggling at 2km

Then I’d talk myself around. But every run the “I can’t..” thought crept back in. But I kept popping on the runners and persevering through the head stuff and the unfortunately very sore shins. I had developed shin splints that were causing me pain while running, sitting, standing and even lying down.

My fellow Amphibian Sinead got in touch to say hello and suggested we both sign up for the Terenure 5Mile race…. which is 2km farther than I’ve run in three years! So we did and it was lovely to meet her. My time didn’t and never will break any records but I’m proud of it.

It was a great day. It’s a flat race. I enjoyed it but I also found it so hard. And once again, my shin splints were agony. But the “I can’t” voice wasn’t as loud as it had been.

I reported all of this to the team coach Gary and physio Darren and was told to stop running til my shin splints were seen to by Darren at Race2Base. I made it into him a week later (a week of running lost) and he worked his agonizing magic on my poor shins!

Then work trips got in the way of any running for a second week, then a holiday in Spain for a third.

Whilst in Spain, with time to think about what I was doing, or not doing, I had a wobble.

I decided I just couldn’t do it. I was going to pull out. And then, I talked it through with my Best Friend who I was away with (too many late nights to be in any condition to morning run!).

We both came to the conclusion that not only COULD I do this, but I NEEDED to do this. For me.

My head was getting in my way. I KNOW that I can do this but it was easier to sink into the option to not try. To give up and think up of some “genuine” excuses for why I simply couldn’t run the Dublin Marathon.

So I am all in.

I have special insoles to help with the shins, I’m back in the runners and I’m gonna make this happen, week by week til it’s race day.

Terenure 5mile Statistics

I got loads of advice from Darren the physio at Race2Base re stretching, pre and post run. I needed to keep an eye on my form, apparently I run with my bum stuck out and my cadence is too slow…. Cadence is how many times in a minute your feet hit the ground when you run. Darren said to imagine I was running across hot sand and lift my feet that quickly, whilst tucking my bum in!! Easy Peasy!

This week it’s just 3 x 20 min runs and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into a training plan for the next 20 weeks.

I’ve got this. 100%, one week at a time, for 20 weeks.

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