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Goodbye to Vitamin I

Earlier this year I had written about unlocking a superpower, a post that tantalizingly starts with me ‘visualizing away’ a raging headache, a feat that sadly turns out to be a one-time wonder.

If you have Googled, you know that there is no such thing as Vitamin I. But if you’ve read the thoroughly engaging and deeply inspiring Eat and Run, you would know that Vitamin I is the affectionate moniker coined by Dusty Olsen for everyday painkiller Ibuprofen. Who is Dusty? Scott Jurek’s longtime pacing/crewing buddy of course. Scott Jurek is of course this guy.

I’ve struggled with headaches for most of my adult life but have learned to live with it. Some combination of Tiger Balm and Anacin->Advil->Brufen would usually engender a return to normalcy.

A new type afflicted me after I started logging 25k+ weekend runs in Bangalore – the post-run headache After multiple hydration experiments, coconut water turned out to be the winning antidote. I must have eventually developed some kind of immunity because I stopped the antidote a year later and my post-run headaches didn’t return.

So it was back to those pesky 1-2 times a month ‘regular’ headaches.  

Things took a serendipitous turn in May 2013. I was in Bhopal to guest blog the World Bank’s Development Marketplace event. One of the finalists was Ashish Gawade, whose BOPEEI social enterprise I had written about earlier.

Ashish, also a volunteer with Manashakti, shared an interesting theory about pain:

  • that physical pain is a reaction to some abuse we have inflicted on our body, and
  • that the only way to permanently recover is to acknowledge it, endure it (and certainly no managing the pain)

In a way I was primed for this prescription after reading about Jurek’s  many exploits one of which involved racing a brutal trail ultra on a bum ankle without Vitamin I

A new experiment was born – goodbye to Vitamin I, at any cost! 

Oh boy! This was one hard and painful experiment. But I stuck it to it gamely for 3-4 years before the recidivistic impulse felled me. And when I did come off the streak, my pain tolerance had increased significantly so I’d pop the Vitamin I once, say every 5 episodes.

P.S. If you are a runner, you absolutely read Chronicles of a Dustball, a paean to the amazing Dusty Olson.

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