what did I learn?

July 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

‘What did you learn over the weekend?’ I asked JapGirl.

‘I learnt not to assume that others see themselves the same way I see them. I also got me a lovely new book!’ she said, holding out a plain hardcover ring-bound set of brown papers. I oohed and aahed appropriately before bending downwards to sniff them.We both like papers. They make us high.

‘I like…’ I smiled.

‘What did you learn?’ she asked in return.

‘I realized that it’s great fun overtaking people when I run,’ I gleefully replied. ‘I also found out that it’s hard to drink water while running, how I need to start reading books again and that I truly love eating oatmeal.’

We do this every week with each other and it’s lovely to think back on a weekend gone by and recapture our ‘wow’ moments of revelation. Personally, I ask myself that same question too, every night I sit down to write.

What did I learn today?

*

I entered the derelict mall and wrinkled my nose in slight disgust. It reeked of old boiled soup, unwashed clothes and corners that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. Glancing at the scrawled unit number in my hand, I took the escalators and rode up to the second floor. I was on a hunt for new shoes.

My knees had been hurting the past two weeks after every run and I took it as a sign that I needed a new pair.

’02-35, this should be it,’ I murmured to myself as I stepped into a tiny cramped shop filled to the ceiling with shoes and running gear, and marveled at how one could ever keep track of anything in that space. There was barely any space to walk. Still, this place came highly recommended by The Sister’s podiatrist so there had to be some value in the chaos.

‘May I help you?’ A plumpish man dressed in shirt and pants asked me.

‘Yes, I’m looking to get fitted with a new pair of running shoes,’ I replied, ‘My current pair is a little worn out.’

‘Did you bring your old pair?’ He asked.

‘No… but they are Nike Zooms,’ I said.

‘Nikes, pfft. Those are only for looks. You know, they used to make really good running shoes but these days, they changed their marketing strategy and spend more time on superficial design. Come here and take off your shoes,’ he told me, ‘Now turn around and walk to the wall over there. Let me look at your gait.’

Obediently, I did as told and walked up and down the shop several times.

‘You have an arch but it tends to flatten when you place it on the ground. Basically, you over-pronate. You’ve also got very wide feet and your left foot’s big toe has already started to angle inwards,’ he said. Then grabbing a ladder, he climbed into a hole in the ceiling and disappeared for a while. When he returned, he handed me a pair of Asics.

‘Here, these should do well for you.’

I tried them on and honestly couldn’t tell the difference except that they felt more solid.

‘These will do you well for long-distance running,’ he explained. ‘Do your knees hurt when you run in your old pair?’

‘How did you know?’ I asked. At that moment, I felt as though he was god. Sure, it’s basic science and if I bothered to do a little more research, I’m sure I’d have found out the same things on my own but it felt good to get some advice.

‘Good thing you came. Otherwise, the next thing you’d face is very tired calves and back ache,’ he continued. Sheesh, I did suffer from tired calves after running. Sometimes, they felt so sore and tight I wondered if I was doing something wrong.

‘Come back after 8 months and bring your old pair with you. I’ll check how they wear out and see if you need something different,’ he said as I paid for the new shoes.

‘Does a person’s gait change, the more they run?’ I asked.

‘Yes, it can change. But I’ll be able to assess more accurately once I see how your shoes wear out. You say you land mid-foot and not on your heels?’ he asked. I nodded. ‘That’s actually a good thing. Makes for a speedy runner. Well, all the best and see you next year!’

Tonight, as I ran, my pace improved and I did an average of 1km in 6.9 minutes, an improvement from Sunday’s 7.5 minutes. And guess what? My knees didn’t hurt.

I like my new shoes.

*

‘Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.’

– Albert Einstein

What did I learn today?

I learnt that I tend to over-pronate when I run and that while the shoes didn’t necessarily improve my timing directly, it helped me believe I could go further, stronger… And sometimes, that’s all we need to do greater things – we need something to believe in.

My new shoes aren’t magic but they gave me confidence that I had a solution to my old problems and my new goal of finishing the next 10k run in under an hour is therefore, somehow… possible.

Belief. It’s strength for the mind.

And the mind? It propels the body and person to do things once thought unachievable. It’s that simple.

What do I believe then?

I believe… I can fly.

*

What have you learnt today?

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