Tag Archives: Injury

Are You Still Running?

Susan, my New Jersey intern turned friend from Port Huron, and I sat around a summer back yard fire catching up on life and parenthood.
“Are you still running?” she inquired.
I paused…

A month earlier, I was at a conference networking with your standard R&D introverts. It would have been a slow conversation if it hadn’t been for the free beer and wine at the happy hour. We were discussing the challenges of getting up at 5 am to run in the scholarship fundraiser 5K. Not one of us was planning on running it. The woman next to me admitted that she used to run but she’d gotten injured and never got back into running. I nodded my head knowing what she meant.

I used to fear getting injured so bad that I wouldn’t be able to run while I waited to heal. Three running styles, five pairs of shoes, a set of bare feet, months of early morning walks, turning 40 and two missed Girls On The Run events later, I realize my fear was misplaced. I should have feared losing my desire to run.

I run sporadically. Often, I’ll run in the middle of my morning walk. But, am I running? ie., Am I a Runner?

I have never defined being a “Runner” by speed or distance. To me, being a runner has to do with attitude, desire and a runner’s high. Susan’s inquiry put me in a position where I had to face what had happened. I changed and I no longer feel like I am a runner.

Ever since Susan’s inquiry, I’ve pondered who am I, what am I doing and what do I want? I suppose this is another side affect of going over-the-hill. It’s hard to define a goal when you’ve already taken life’s major stepping stones, run a 5K, win a 5K, run a half, run a sub-25 5K, PR in the half, get injured and run a return 5K. What’s left? Maybe it’s time I did something crazy?

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Filed under exercise, personality flaws, running

Daisy Petals

Imagine me sitting in a field of daisies. I have one daisy clutched in my left hand. With the right hand, I pull each petal off, one at a time. With each petal, I alternate saying, “I am a runner…. I am not a runner.”

Each day is another daisy petal. One day, I feel like I am a runner. The next day, I do not feel like I am a runner. Each day, I fret that this will be the last petal and whether that petal will say “runner” or “not”.

I’m too competitive with myself. I am frustrated that I am not running as fast or as far as I used to go. I catch myself wanting to quit due to my disappointing lack of ability. This running thing seems so hard. It seems like I’ll never get my abilities back.

It was easier to become a runner than to rebuild a runner. When I started, I had no expectations of what I could do. As a result, every run lifted me up and my confidence grew exponentially. But, this time around, I know what I should be able to do. When I don’t reach my expectation, don’t even come close to it, it’s a struggle not to be crushed by what once was.

When we were little girls we would use daisy petals to predict if a boy “loved” us or not. Not that the answer mattered because we’d just keep picking daisies until we got the answer we wanted. I just hope there are enough daisies in my field to help me figure out if I want to be a runner or not.

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Filed under Lessons learned, running

Darkness vs. Lightness

I’m the social sort. I’m always chatting with scouting families or commiserating with the soccer parents. I habitually check Facebook, email, Twitter, and Tumbler at five minute intervals. Yet, I’ve always been one to run solo.

Except that running alone in the dark scares the crap out of me.

Fortunately, a friend of mine, R, expressed a desire to walk early in the morning but also confessed to being fearful of going alone before the sun rise. Resolutely, we allied ourselves against the unending darkness.

My problem isn’t just fearing lightlessness. I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly difficult to peel myself away from the bed covers at 5 am … unless I know that R is braving the nocturnal hours to meet me. I would collapse under intense guilt if I knew she was solitarily wandering in the shadows because I had been slothful. I admit the conversation is as alluring as the protection from the darkness. Yes, this arrangement suits me. I haven’t been this consistent with exercise at 5 am in…ever.

This morning, I bolted out of bed at 5:09 am to a snoozed alarm. Stumbling rapidly through the kitchen, I hit every light along my way. I searched for my phone to text R to let her know I was awake late and almost awake, I mean, almost ready. But, R had texted me 15 minutes earlier.

I’m going to have to cancel. My daughter was up all night. I’m too tired

After a brief moment of relief that the Boogy monster wasn’t going to get R, I decided that I would proceed with the scheduled morning walk. Albeit, not until daylight began to press back the darkness. This would require some time as the sunlight was trapped behind a contiguous cloud coverage. While I waited, I occupied myself by going back to sleep. Don’t you remember that sleep is my super power?

Anxious for action, I arose the second time (actually, the third because I used the snooze button at 5 am causing the rushed awakening at 5:09 am. ) before the alarm wailed again. Seated on the edge of the couch, I primed my muscles for prevention of Planter Fasciitis and healing in my psoas, tensor fasciae and piriformis (a.k.a hips). I followed the warm up with a steady 10 minute walk in my Merrell Pacers…

What? No shoe!?

Yea! No medical shoe.

After two continuous weeks wearing THE SHOE, and an even longer ban on running, my foot shows little to no improvement. I will not resort to immobilizing my foot again until I establish if my chronic hip issues generated my foot pain.

Confused? Check out The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy for his take on causes of foot pain.

After all, the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone is connected to the knee bone, the knee… My apologies, the dogs in the neighborhood just started howling so I’d better stop singing and conclude my story.

Where was I?… Oh, yes, after walking for a bit, I slipped off my Merrells to jog a spell. The road was cool and damp. The sidewalks were dry but stone covered. My steps were easy and pain-free (minus stepping on the stones). I didn’t travel barefoot as far as I had hoped but, at least, I did not use R’s sleep deprivation to justify lackadaisical behavior. I put the darkness to good use and felt as light as ever running barefoot.

Here I am going south than north about 30 feet from the railroad tracks.

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Filed under Barefoot, injury, minimalist shoes, running

An Apple For My Foot?

I must start eating apples again. After all, what is the old saying? An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

The podiatrist called me yesterday to discuss my MRI. I have to give her credit for taking the initiative to call me instead of waiting for me to make an appointment.

The diagnosis: NOT a stress fracture. Instead, it is a stress reaction which is (insert Charlie Brown’s teacher talking noises). Internet running board forums say its like a bone bruise. Some state that it is a condition you have right before getting a stress fracture.

It’s interesting how adaptable we become to the chronic aches and pains of our body especially as we grow older. Looking back on last year, I can remember trying to sit with pretzel legs on the living room floor while watching American Idol with the kids. I wasn’t able to sit in that position because the weight of my leg squeezed my metatarsal bones together triggering pain in the stressed area. Recently, I realized that for many months, when I sleep on my side, I intertwine my feet so that I don’t put any pressure on the side of my foot.

Yes, I’ve had this pain for a long time and I’ve adapted several coping mechanisms. Yet, despite how much it irks me, I am going to follow the doctor’s advice and WEAR THE BOOT (mine is more like a shoe) for two weeks. Why give in? Because, when I was in to see with the podiatrist originally, the nurse indicated that bending your foot slows down the healing process. I guess I’ll find out.

While there are many poised to point their fingers at my barefoot running, I am not quite so certain of that cause. A friend of my sister’s once told me a story about her knee pain and all the things she did to try to solve it. As it turned out, the pain was being caused by her using one foot to kick off the shoe on the other foot. Who’d have thought? My point is that I recently read a post by The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy about how weak hips and rear can cause barefoot injuries.

BLING!!. (that’s the light bulb going off)

I have had chronic hip issues since about 2007 or 2006 which if anyone is counting was long before I started the barefoot run. So, in addition to resting the soft tissues of my foot, I will also be working on some deep tissue issues and massive strengthening of my buns.

I have a 5 k race in 3 weeks. What do you think my chances are? By the way, hand me an apple, I want to run, not see a podiatrist again.

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Filed under Barefoot, injury

The Podiatry Narritive

I have alluded to some foot issues in previous posts. I am resistant to bore you with the details of my ailments. Yet, I shall contradict that statement henceforth since you’ll need the background of my story to understand what is to come.

I set out a year ago to become a master of self-podiatry. My endeavor was mostly a success. My planter fasciitis is completely cured. I feel no pain despite having grown massive heel spurs. Then, I was shocked to discover that the PF pain was masking other foot ailments. As the PF pain receded, ankle tendonitis and top of the foot pain made themselves known but they too faded away with my treatment.

Note, regular barefoot runs and wearing shoes with minimal cushioning were included in my self-medication.

Yet, there is one last pain that has eluded the cure. No amount of messaging, icing, foot exercises or resting seems to be able to locate the source of the pain, let alone, cure it.

I decided that I really needed to see what was going on. I needed x-rays. Because I feared that last remaining ailment that couldn’t benefit from my self-medication process. I feared a stress fracture.

I made an appointment with a Podiatrist. (One with a degree in Podiatry)

Immediately, I began to wonder how this Podiatrist would handle me. Would she tell me to stop running? Would she try to fit me for orthotics?

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You knew I was going to do that, right?

I fretted over my impending doctor’s visit. What should I tell her? I’m a runner? I’m a barefoot runner? Or I’m a firm believer in being barefoot as much as possible and have gone as far to wear minimalist shoes every minute that I am forced to wear shoes? If she tries to put me in orthotics, she might as well save her breathe because I won’t do it AND I’ll never come back to see her again?

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They left me alone too long with access to my X-Rays

Diagnosis – there isn’t one yet, of course. There isn’t a visible stress fracture. Doc can’t pinpoint the source of the pain either (tendons, bones, nerves). I get to have an MRI next week. Plus, I was ordered to wear a shoe that immobilizes my foot and not run for two weeks. Like that is going to happen!

I’d like to add a final statement that my foot hurts in other joint areas from wearing this shoe! I’ll give it one week. That’s all.

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Filed under Barefoot, injury, minimalist shoes, running