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WRITTEN BY: Miguel McCann        ADDED: Mar 07, 2011      EDITED BY: Patrick Bickford

I was born flat-footed. It is something that runs in my family - so much so, in fact, that my father and I now have almost identical footprints.


As a kid it was never something that bothered me. I went through period of wearing special shoes, wearing insoles and going to a physiotherapist to try and correct the issue or at very least help my body deal with it. I am not sure whether it was a matter of me not being motivated enough to make those things work or if it simply was just not meant to be. Either way, it was not causing me any strife so I was not disappointed by the results.


Once I hit my early teens, things changed. It seemed that I couldn’t walk for any amount of time without my ankles and feet beginning to ache, to the point that a day of shopping was torturous – or should I say more torturous as I was never a fan to begin with. The night after a day shopping, going to a concert, taking part in a sports day, etc. I had to strap up my ankles because otherwise the pain made walking almost impossible.


I had played a moderate amount of sports all my life (namely basketball) so it wasn’t a lack of exercise that was the problem. According to the doctor, it may have been quite the opposite in fact. My doctor, like my father’s doctor, advised against weight-bearing exercise due to being flat-footed. In my case, I also had the added disadvantage of being overweight, which meant there was more weight being borne. In the same breath he also recommended I join the local rugby team however because, as it turns out, he was the team’s physician.


This struck me as odd but he assured me that as a big guy my main job wouldn’t involve a lot of running but rather it would be about getting in people’s way and doing my best to hurt them, while of course still following the rules. I thought about it for some time and talked with my best friend who had played rugby as a kid. In no time at all, both of us were on the rugby pitch, training with the U-18 team. And I loved it. It was everything I had been promised. I got to tackle people and got to laugh at people fail at tackling me all the while running at a leisurely pace.


I kept going to rugby for almost two seasons. Unfortunately, one day at practice (I always wish it had happened elsewhere for the sake of a better story) I fell while playing tag-rugby (another fact I wish were different). I lay on the ground while my teammates yelled at me to continue the game – they thought I was trying to sneak in a break, which wasn’t unheard of. This time, however, I couldn’t stand up. I had hurt my ankle – though not broken it, according to the doctor. Still, I was on crutches for a month or more.


After that, I never returned to rugby, nor have I joined any sports clubs since. My ankle, already in a fragile state, became much worse – it would hurt randomly and when I used it too much the pain was much worse than it used to be. This, along with my laziness, held me back from exercising. I would visit gyms with varying frequencies throughout my college career, and even since coming to Japan, but nothing really got me hooked.


Until now, that is.


Since coming to Japan, my friend Patrick (owner of Englipedia) has been trying to get me to go running with him, a request which I turned down more times than I can count. Running was never my thing - I am slow and have always felt horribly self-conscious while doing it. For two years, I scoffed at the idea of me going out running with him. Sometimes I would make excuses and other times I would be brutally honest and tell him that I am not a runner and that I sucked so bad that he would regret ever going out with me. Part of me was interested, but the thought of the pain in my ankle and the knowledge that I was pretty unfit made staying at home a better option.


Earlier this year, I read a book (this may seem unrelated but bear with me). It was a book by Haruki Murakami entitled What I talk About When I Talk about Running.This was a very good read (and I highly recommend it) but more than just that it was inspirational. Not only did it make me want to run, it made me want to run long distance – like he does. In my head I conjured up all these ambitious goals. Some of which are: running a marathon and a triathlon by the time I am 30.


I am just about to reach a quarter of a century at the end of 2011, so these goals don’t seem out of the question, but at the time I was reading the book they seemed like the least likely of all my life goals.


When the time came to sign up for the Kawaguchiko Nikkan Sports Marathon, Patrick posted about it on our prefecture's local ALT forum. He and his girlfriend encouraged me to join the 11k (there are three option – 11, 27, 42). I tried to resist but I knew inside me that this was the motivation I needed to start running.


I signed up and on the 10th of September, 2010, began training. As expected, I SUCKED. I sucked hard! I could jog for maybe 5 minutes and then had to walk. I felt bad for Patrick who was going at my pace to help me out and motivate me but I honestly was unable to do more. We did 6km that night, most of which was walking – slowly. I learnt a lot about what not to do while running – things that I have since remedied (at least partially) – but I also planted a seed that has now grown into something very fruitful.


I now run on average four times a week and try to cover at least 4km per run. I have also done 11km runs on numerous occasions. Sure, sometimes I hurt and sometimes I think I am crazy for doing it but when all is said and done, I am fitter, healthier and lighter than I was this time three months ago – and improving day by day.


On days when I do hurt, I remember what my father repeatedly told me since I first started suffering as a result of my flat-footedness: "All my life, doctors told me I would never be able to run because of my flat-footedness, however, running is the only thing that stops my feet from hurting me". It is only now that I run regularly, that I see how true these words are. Like I said earlier, sure, sometimes I hurt but now it isn’t my feet.



This page was last modified on Thursday, December 10, 2015 02:28:36 PM