Magic mushroom

2010-03-08 00:00

Shin splints have gone, the qualifying marathon is past; so I’m in. But hubby’s knees have gone and the doc says no more running, so he’s out. Not quite what we expected. In the meanwhile, I’ve discovered a secret every marathoner should know about and it’s hiding out in Howick.

Hubby, Yves, was just reaching the point where he could push. Mileage was up to 70 odd k’s a week, he could put in some pretty fast spurts and he was relishing the hills. Then one knee tweaked with an old injury. Cold packs, anti-inflammatories, multiple stretching sessions eased the ache only until the next run. Then his second knee registered and running became a gritted activity between hobbling – clearly not a good situation to be in three months before Comrades and just as the training was escalating. So an orthopod consultation made sense, which resulted in peep-hole surgery and a doctor who pointed out that if Yves carried on running the only possible end would be increasing pain and better holidays for the doc.

It’s an odd outcome. I’m not really the runner in this relationship, he is. I’ve taken to it because it allows me to eat a lot of chocolate and max on endorphins but I’ll never win a race. Yves looks like a runner even when he hasn’t run for years. But, now we’ll have to undergo some identity changes as he morphs into a swimming cyclist.

So instead of running the qualifying Maritzburg Marathon with me, guiding and pacing me to finish, he was on the sidelines feeding me bananas and energy drinks and telling me to run a little faster to make a seeding, which I did with 51 seconds to spare. We also pored over the strategy for tackling the marathon – not so fast that it would sap energy for the following week’s training but very important to qualify on an easy course. We came up with a system in which we broke the marathon up into 5 km sections and allocated time to them. So, I planned to run the first 5 k’s in 7min/k and had to finish it in 35 minutes. On a bit of paper that I would carry with me on the run, I wrote: 5 k’s ----- 5:35. I then planned each 5 k’s, some faster than others, especially on downhill sections in the first half when I would be feeling good and then with plenty of time left for the second half and especially the last 7 k’s, which I planned to do at 8m/k. I put the piece of paper in a bankie and ferreted it away into my pouch within easy reach. It worked extremely well, except for the first 8 k’s when it was too dark for me to read. I ran this bit too fast (6min/k) and ended up gaining 6 minutes that meant I finished with a seeded place rather than in 4:45 hrs as I’d planned.

It’s most definitely odd to think of marathons as training sessions but that’s what they now are. One every two weeks for the next month, before the two ultra marathons of 52 k’s each that I must put behind me before May. What remains puzzling to me though is that at the height of my training, according to my programme (a Norrie Williamson one I believe), I will still not do the Comrades distance of 89 k’s in a week of running. If I never run 89 k’s in a week, how will I ever run it in one day?

To a rather large extent, my body answers that question for me. As much as I will myself to run further and further each week, my aching limbs will not allow more than 65-75 k total one week alternated with a 50-60 k’s the next. And that’s with a full suite of comfort and care, which is what seems to have sorted out the shin splints. So while still panting after a run, I whip up a raw egg, milk and banana milkshake, do calf and hamstring stretches, then wrap my legs in three iced weater cushions and lather Traumeel cream over calves and thighs. All of which no doubt soothes pain and aids rapid muscle recovery.

But, I have to confess that I doubt any of these things would have worked had I not discovered the magic mushroom. No, not the psychedelic kind. This is a disgustingly bitter tasting, hard fungus that Neil van Rij, a Cedara based fungi expert is growing for its healthy adaptagen qualities. I decided to try some because of its reputed immune boosting qualities, which seemed a good way to keep a physically stressed body’s CD4 count high. Neil then also mentioned that it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties when soaked in alcohol. I immediately paid attention and bought a bottle of gin.. Since then, I’ve had a tablespoon of the mushroom infused liquid once a day, have taken no anti-inflammatories since I started on it, have run weekly totals of 73 k’s, 66 k’s (which included the marathon) and 54 k’s. The recovery is immediate and obvious. Try it – Neil can be contacted on 0822944787.

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