It started about a week and a half ago. A slight tenderness in my right heel, like I had stepped on a rock. I was a little concerned. When I first started running three years ago, I got a little over-enthusiastic and increased my mileage too fast – which landed my butt on the couch for about six weeks while I recovered from plantar fasciitis. Based on that experience – and my stress fracture this summer – I’ve learned to be very wary of any twinges in my feet.
So I took two days off in preparation for my race last Saturday, and by race morning, the pain was completely gone. I wrote it off as nothing and pretty much forgot all about it.
Until it came back two days later. I was fairly certain that it was plantar fasciitis again. It had all the markings – I had pain in my heel and a little in my arch; it was worse in the morning and then felt better once I got moving, etc. But, the pain was so minimal that I wanted to believe it would just go away. I decided to be cautious but to proceed with my training. Then yesterday I woke up and the pain was a little stronger, and it had spread to my left arch as well. I immediately canceled my planned six mile run and tried to appease myself with a cycling/weights workout at the gym followed by a big breakfast at IHOP with Tim.
This is incredibly frustrating. Over the last couple days, I’ve felt kind of angry. I mean, shouldn’t I get a “free pass” this year, since I had to write off the last part of 2010 and give up my marathon because of injury? Why am I here again? I don’t go crazy in my training and do reckless things, so why do my feet seem to work against me?
Well, if I’m honest, maybe I did try to ramp up too quickly. I’m following a half marathon plan I’ve used before – with much success – but I started this time without much of a base. And maybe it was too much too soon. I don’t know. I do know that right before this latest roadblock, I had – ironically – just reached the point that I was feeling really strong again. And maybe that made me push things a little too hard.
For me, the most difficult part of dealing with injury is deviating from “my plan.” Anyone who knows me knows that I like organization, order, and plans. That extends to my running too. When I start training for a new race, I print out my training schedule, put it on my bulletin board, and check off each workout upon completion. When I get hurt, I simultaneously feel betrayed by the plan (“But I was following the PLAN! I don’t understand why this happened! Why did the plan turn against me?!”) and fearful that I have to abandon the plan (“I’m missing workouts! I’m falling behind! I’m not going to be able to run the races on my schedule!”). It is a very uncomfortable and scary place for me to be.
So, I’ve decided to do something I’ve never done before. I’m throwing the plan out the window. Well, not exactly. It’s still on my bulletin board, but I’m allowing myself to “let it go” for now and just listen to my body while it heals. I am working on adjusting my attitude from “why me?” to “what can I learn from this experience and how can it make me a better athlete and runner?”
And, true to form, I’m making a new “plan” – one that includes checking in with my doctor (I highly recommend Dr. Peebles from Atlanta Foot and Ankle Center for anyone struggling with a foot-related running injury. He kept me sane while I recovered from my stress fracture.), icing/stretching, focusing on strength and cross training, getting lots of rest, and eating well. And I think it’s a perfect time to treat myself to a massage – maybe this weekend.
Hope to be back on the road soon, but in the meantime, here’s where I am:
Miles run last week: 9; total miles for the year: 41.22