Things you don’t realise people need

There’s a bandage commercially available that is really good to carry in a trail first aid kit as your snake bite bandage. It’s called Setopress, and is 10cm wide and 3.5 metres long. It stretches and through that applies compression to the wound or snake bite. I’m not going to give you the current advice on how to treat snake bites, because as time passes the advice changes, and I’m not going to update this post each year. But you can probably guarantee that there will be some sort of compression required.

What makes Setopress particularly good is that if you sprain an ankle or something similar, you’ll want to use compression on the injury site to provide support to the limb.

Setopress bandage with rectangles printed on the bandage to easily work out how much stretching is required to have the bandage applied correctly.

Setopress bandage

You would be concerned about how much pressure you’re applying, and whether you’re completely stopping blood flow to the extremities, and Setopress factor that in with little rectangles printed on the bandage, which, when stretched properly, become squares. Use the green squares if you want to apply 30mmHg of pressure, and the brown squares if you want to apply 40mmHg of pressure. Every other collection of trail runners would buy Setopress just as a cleverly designed compression bandage, but Australians first think of it as a snake bite bandage.

We’re on holiday in Vancouver, and on Sunday we went for a walk down East Broadway from Main Street, where there are loads of outdoor apparel shops. We went into one, and realised it was more of a hiking and mountaineering shop, rather than trail running, but there’s some crossover and we wanted a sticky beak.

That’s where I discovered clotting sponges.

Yesterday, we hiked up the Grouse Grind – I can’t claim I ran it, because 2.55km at 33% took me 1h40m. I hiked.

I spent most of that time almost bent double hoisting my sorry body up this bloody mountainside, occasionally grappling with my hands (hooray for running gloves) at sharp edged granite rocks that served as steps. Occasionally I’d stop and rest, and look around at this gorgeous forest surrounds, breathing hard and leaning on – sometimes clinging to – a tree. It was beautiful, but it was really bloody hard, and I have no great desire to repeat the exercise (there’s a good reason there’s a $15, seven minute gondola ride up Grouse Mountain).

The Grouse Grind was also educational, because I swear to god I nearly fell down the mountain three times, and after the first time I suddenly understood why Vancouver outdoorsy people pack clotting sponges.

Doing things that make you happy.

Back in January one of the pieces of advice the GP gave me was “do things that make you happy”. This was at the back of my mind when back in November I decided to withdraw from this year’s Six Inch.

I had signed up through FOMO (fear of missing out) instead of desire back in July when entries opened. While we’d been trail running for training, I hadn’t been enjoying it like I used to. For the first time ever I’d had a negative voice in my head – it had three specific chatty lines:

“Ooh, you won’t be able to keep up that pace on race day – that’s way too fast if you want to survive 47km.”

“Ooh, you want to be a bit careful here, you might wreck your ankles again on that surface. Better slow down.”

“Ooh, that pace is a bit slow, you won’t make the cut-off for the aid stations at that pace. You need to be a tiny bit faster.”

Marry those three lines together, and you have the funnest vicious circle ever!

It came to a head when we ran a training run on Yaberoo Trail near Yanchep National Park, and I had a tiny cry when I realised I needed to withdraw. We got to the National Park, and Vince, Didi and Jez ran on and did the Ghosthouse Trail, while I sat down under the trees at one of the tables and composed my email to Dave Kennedy, withdrawing from the race and offering my services as a volunteer.

I hit send, and instantly felt simultaneously relieved and stupendously excited – if I wasn’t doing Six Inch, then I’d be on fine form in February to do the Busselton Half Marathon, and then the new Runningworks Thornlie Half Marathon. After the last time I did Six Inch it took me until past April to do anything over 10 kilometres.

A couple of weeks later we did a loop of the Munday Brook trail in Karragullen and I loved every minute of it, and happily ran along without that chatty negative voice in my head. I’d done 29km on the Six Inch course with Marnie a couple of weeks before the Yaberoo run and in amongst that were some amazing downhills that I sped down and thoroughly enjoyed, but this time that joy was throughout my run. It was inspiring.

Dave gave me a few options for volunteering, and I accepted the finish line assistance role, which it turned out was being the presenter of finishers medals to everyone who had raced. This was just what I needed – I got to see everyone finish, and for the first time ever I got to see the fast guys run further than the trail dogleg at Aid 2. It was a surprisingly cold and wet December day, and Scotty Hawker and Nera Jareb both managed new course records – Scotty coming in in 3 hours 15 minutes, and Nera coming in 3 hours 42 minutes. I stood at that finish line for four hours, handing out medal after medal to the half and full marathon finishers, and enjoyed every minute.

One person crossed the line at 6 hours 53 minutes which was my finish time in 2014. I remember thinking while watching him barrel down the finish chute “That’s a really bloody long time to be out on course. It is definitely time to work on speed.”

So that’s my goal now – I need to be faster, probably over all distances, but definitely on trail. The negative voice in my head might have technically been correct, but now I have more of a concrete plan which has definitely quieted the negative spin. Jeremy is fully supportive of this plan – I have lots of road race plans this year, including my personal Kimetto Challenge, which is to get a half marathon time of 2h02m57s (or less!) because that’s the World Record time for the marathon and would make me half as fast as Dennis Kimetto. I also need to get out on trail and use Bickley and Munday Brook trails to give me 12 months of trail running practice, not the inevitable “four months before Six Inch” push. (Assuming I enter in 2018).

Interval sessions are also on the horizon – with one fun bonus that I had been previously vaguely conscious of, but unaware of official confirmation. Every time I’ve ever done intervals in the early morning I have felt wildly cheery afterwards. I thought it was just the inevitable early morning smug “I’ve totally exercised already, bitches! I don’t have to do anything more today!” feeling that you can sometimes feel, but no! It’s actually brain-derived neurotrophic factor!

We were at the launch of Yokine parkrun and our friend Sarah came along. We were talking afterwards and she mentioned that interval sessions are like DIY antidepressants (Sarah’s a psychologist). She later found me this Journal of Applied Physiology article: High-intensity interval training evokes larger serum BDNF levels compared with intense continuous exercise which explains it all, but how cool is that?

So I have a bit of a plan, inspiration, and a pretty positive outlook. And I intend to keep following my GP’s advice “do what makes you happy”, because if it doesn’t make you happy, why try and force something?