Feet stop, mind races: help please!

Today is Day 16 not-walking. Well, I’m not bed-ridden but wearing a moonboot kills any chance of hiking 30km today. Or tomorrow.

Dr Mel is quietly happy with my progress. She gave me some big words to describe my shin: tibialis anterior tendinitis. That means ‘irritated tendon’.

Turns out Dr Mel’s colleague – who ranked my injury as “one of the most severe” cases she’s seen – was none other than Dr Deb, who is team doctor for the All Blacks. She was surprised I could walk at all, but when she said it might take up to four weeks to come right, I don’t think I registered the timeline.

Yet four weeks (if not longer) is now a distinct possibility. If I decide to be pig-headed and carry on regardless, I run the risk of doing permanent injury. That would mean my next forty years of hiking, dancing and tennis would be toast, which is unacceptable. Consequently, I’m following Dr Mel’s instructions.

A number of potential actions are swirling around my brain:

  • I hang up my shoes and call the adventure over. I always said this trek was to “see if I can walk Cape Reinga to Bluff” and whilst I’ve walked a very, very long way, it would seem that I might not be able to go the distance. [As much as it feels like “I’m almost there” – and I greatly appreciate the supportive comments which reflect that – please remember I still have 600-700km to go. That’s a big walk in its own right, let alone in winter.]
  • I press ‘pause’ and resume where I left off once warmer (and safer) weather conditions return in the spring/summer, sticking to the Te Araroa route. My intuition tells me this isn’t a good idea.
  • I rest up for 2-3 weeks more and then modify the intended route, sticking primarily to roadsides (instead of going back-country) and make a bee-line for Bluff. I would need a support person in a campervan or an arranged sequence of hosts who could pickup/dropoff since I don’t see carrying a full, heavy pack to be a wise idea.

I’m curious – what would you do? Your goal is threatened. Your physical health is not 100%. Your bank balance is less than zero. The season is against you. What would you do?

About Stuart Fleming

Just a guy who likes to walk and write.
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15 Responses to Feet stop, mind races: help please!

  1. Karen Degen says:

    Option 3 – modify your intended route. There’s no satisfaction in not finishing and you may always regret it. Get there any way you can, even if its walking the roads. That’s what I’d do (I say sitting here in the warm knowing full well I don’t have to).

    Expect to finish. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how that will happen. Expect that you will attract the right conditions, the right people and the right resources for that to happen. EXPECT TO FINISH.

  2. adam says:

    hey stu, i agree with point 3… no satisfaction in giving up. im currently laid up off work, ave been for about 9 weeks now, with a fairly serious ACL tear. so im feeling your pain… but also being fairly active and in a high impact job, on my feet all day, im understanding the importance of making sure it heals properly…

  3. Possum Richardson says:

    Option 3 Stuart.

    “Almost there” is correct, you have come this far. We always hear so many stories of people stopping at an “acceptable” point of a challenge. But it’s a challenge, and at this point it’s to acheive it without wrecking your future.

    Either way what you have done has been a success, but you have the opportunity to triumph over all the obstacles, internal and external, and show what the human spirit is truly capable of. That is truly inspirational, and well worth the effort. We are all behind you Stuart, and we would love nothing more to help you acheive something truly amazing.

  4. susan says:

    what would i do…probably start by asking everyone i know for their advice..then no doubt i would ignore most of it…
    I’m a big picture person – to hang with the details – so having to redo my plan with lots of detail would not work for me! But possibly shifting the goal post a little, or finding a way to fast track meeting the goal might work. Especially if it meant minimising the risk of future physical damage (40 years is a looong time ahead…).
    Oh, and i don’t like cruddy weather, so if i could find a way that meant i’d be warm and dry for much of it, i’d be doing that too!
    (do freight trains go to Bluff???)

  5. Seona says:

    Hey there. I’ve been quietly watching your progress. I’d modify and go for it. You’re nearly there. You’ll regret not finishing it, I believe.

    All the best!

  6. Mark Boggiss says:

    Gidday mate, I think you know in your heart what the right answer is here. It is easy for us to tell you what to do but it is your body, your goal, and your amazing achievement so far. If prayers help, you got em – I don’t mind asking the big guy for another favour 🙂 Yes I would love to see you complete the journey but not at the expense of your long term health. I guess your third option or a variation of it would seem the most prudent, but don’t rush into heading off, be guided by your medical team as they know best.

  7. Aaron says:

    I’d go with option B.
    Warmer (and safer) weather is 5-6 months away, plenty of time to rest up and heal properly.
    Don’t underestimate how hard it can be on your body walking on a road: Hard surface, constant un-evenness (think road camber – having one leg always stepping on a higher surface than the other) not to mention the boredom that will ultimately set in. Yes you will achieve your goal, but will you be satisfied with how you achieved it? You’re the only one who can answer that question

  8. Adrian says:

    Stuart, I’m all for goals but anti stubbornness and stupidity.

    I don’t see an issue in changing your goal. Stop now and rest on the laurels of getting thus far.


    Wait until you’re healthy and complete it.

    Either way don’t beat yourself up for changing the goal posts, since you’ve started lots of things have happened external to your control. Your planning and preparation seem solid, but your body and the environment has taken it’s toll, and left you here wondering what to do.

    No one will demean you for whatever you choose to do with the goal: mark it off complete, or complete it later. Heck, get a bus down there and complete it that way.

    Be prepared.

  9. Craig says:

    Does it have to be walked? Could option 3 be combined with a change of momentum method? Racing bike, mountain bike, bmx, unicycle, scooter, moon hopper, skateboard, roller skates/blades – any thing that is low impact on your shin.

  10. Ali Brown says:

    Hmmm…..the goal; to walk Te Araroa and have an Adventure Plus, now let’s see…did you walk Te Araroa, well yes, you did… you may not have walked all of it but have you done it, yes you did and did you have an Adventure Plus, well yes, I believe that’s true, and did you achieve something truly amazing and push yourself beyond your limits, I think absolutely! Cape Reinga to Christchurch has a nice ring to it! I guess the question is how important is it to you to do the whole thing and have you proved to yourself that you are a remarkable human being like the rest of us know anyway?

    As for options, well facts are facts and pushing yourself to continue the walk with the risk of permanent injury and a future of no dancing, no walking and limited physical ability is absolutely not even an option so don’t even think about it! Option B sounds like a possibility but I’m curious as to why your intuition tells you know (is that because of the physical risk again or something else…tell us more). I think it would be good to push the ‘pause’ button on this adventure (if you do want to continue with it) and have it as Part B over next summer (after all does it really matter when it gets completed, surely there’s no race for a finish line). That would allow you some time to recover properly physically and build up again and also a chance get some $$$, doesn’t matter what you do, pack shelves, lick stamps on envelopes, do dog walking anything that remotely tickles your fancy and brings some funds in and the beauty is you know it’s only temporary so could even be fun. The third option going via road would enable you to reach Bluff and I guess only you know if choosing that route would be rewarding enough for you but with the seriousness of the injury you have had, would it even be wise to consider that, maybe that is even too soon, and yes, it is winter. However, you have an amazing support network and I’m sure you’d have all the help you needed, who knows some might even be on leave!

  11. Karen Boyes says:

    I like the warmer safer option of Option B – have an adventure in CHCH or whereever you stay for the next few months – try new things/jobs/places safe some $$$ and then go for it… can understand how putting it on hold might be hard since you have ti get yourself back into the mindset again…

  12. Chris Bird says:

    I would go with the 2nd option, as I am sure you really want to complete this on the trail, instead of on the road. This will give you a few months for your health to come right properly and then you will be able to enjoy completing what you set out to do.

  13. Karen B says:

    Your original goal was to see if you could walk the Te Araroa walkway.-right? I do recall you telling me the reason for doing it was ‘just because you wanted to’. Although 3 months was mentioned the time limit was never set in concrete. That in mind and presuming you would still like to complete your goal, I would rest up, rebuild my finances, refocus and continue in 6 or even 18 months time.

    Besides, your book is not going to be complete with the ‘best’ part of the country missing! (Not that I’m at all biased!)

  14. Kevin Randles says:

    I agree with those that have said option B. You have tried so hard to stay to the Te Araroa walkway up to now. Time is not important but completing goal is. Take a break to get well and a little more financial then go for it.

    Good Luck

  15. Dave McCarthy says:


    You must complete the journey. In our interchanges over Term News and other documents you have contributed to I have developed a taste for your train of thought. In typical philosophical Stuart Fleming National Commissioner mode – Think this over…

    If someone writes a book, we all know that the best part of the story comes at the end. Why would we read the book knowing the last chapter isnt there? The last chapter is where the survival spirit kicks in, and of course, where the guy gets the girl (metaphorically speaking and assuming the Bluff = girl.)

    Or my favourite from you in awhile,

    “We cant change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” Option B.

    Much love

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