No sooner had I’d hit “publish” on my post three weeks ago announcing how much I hated running than I laced up my shoes and hit the pavement. Or rather, I tripped over it. My right toe met the lip of a raised crack in the sidewalk–very common in my neck of the woods–and landed hard on my left foot. Very hard.
I shook it off and kept running. After all, it was the first time that I didn’t absolutely hate running. I looked like one of those runners I loathe–you’ve seen them, they’re the ones who aren’t scowling with every step like I usually do. No sirree, no silly little crack was going to take me out.
Or so I thought. The next morning my left heel felt tight. Even a little sore. Not so painful like a break, but maybe a sprain, I told myself. Except it got worse over the next few days as I hobbled to work and back. Hubs called me “Tiny Tim.” Everyone told me to rest.
So I ran three more times after that.
What! I didn’t want to lose momentum. My brain felt clearer. My body stronger. My gams were starting to look good with my summer dresses. But each time I ran, each step that beat the ground served to remind me: I’m human…and I’m in pain.
A neighbor said the words “stress fracture.” Another friend suggested a bruised bone. About five people asked if it was plantar fasciitis. One website said to take Advil, another said don’t take Advil. Massages were a bad idea. Hubs said, “See the doctor.” I turned to my “training coach,” the Kid. “What should I do?” He shrugged. “Ice it?”
So I stopped running. At the gym, I hit the bike instead to keep up my stamina and the rowing machine to channel aggression over having to pause my Couch-to-5K training. Wearing high heels during the day curbed the pain and I seriously considered running in stilettos for, like, a minute. Meanwhile, everyone and their sister was out running. It was absurd. Every time I turned the corner, someone whizzed past me, as if taunting me. “See? My feet are fine. Watch me go!” Friends casually mentioned, “I thought of you today; I ran three-and-a-half miles.” “Man, I could only get a four-mile run in today. How’s the foot?” Even the Beast, whom I’ve seen get lapped by a caterpillar, now jauntily trotted to the park in the mornings.
There’s something about being injured that slows down time. Being forced to feel each and every painful step is the surest way to put one in the present. You’re called upon to be patient, hopeful, and grateful–the alternatives won’t speed up healing. My Ego contemplated heading back out on the pavement whenever the pain momentarily subsided. Still, I waited. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is nothing.
Two days ago, I finally ran on the treadmill (I’m still a little afraid of the sidewalks). About five minutes in, my left heel felt that familiar twinge of pain–it would be subside after an hour; a marked improvement. I remembered the words of my friend, a sports massage therapist: “It won’t get better until it gets better.” And I kept going.