Yes, I realize it’s been over 3 months since I have posted- I think the above photo gives a hint as to the reason why… after my last race in November, the ball of my foot started to hurt and I ignored it. By January, my foot was in such severe pain it couldn’t bear weight, turned purple and grew incredibly swollen so I finally stopped exercising and went to a sports podiatrist. X-rays completed, I sought 3 different opinions (because I didn’t like what ANY of them said, “What do you MEAN stop running for months???”) and even though each doctor gave me a different diagnosis, they all agreed that I had fractured the sesamoid bones that live in the ball of the foot.
Whether or not you know me in real life, as a runner, I am sure you can imagine how very pissed off and upset I was after being told to wear a boot 24/7 for the next 3-6 months and to “rest”. This is my third injury since I began running and racing in 2009 and certainly the worst of them all- ITBS was easy enough to manage (and taught me the importance of foam rolling), the patellofemoral/meniscus/ACL issues just took lots of physical therapy (and at least I could still walk!), but this sesamoid issue was just downright maddening, affected every aspect of my life, and I felt less than capable to handle the negative thoughts and emotions I attached to being injured. Again.
So, I decided to give in to all that negativity and just go ahead and feel all the feels. I stopped blogging, I stopped reading news feeds because seeing other people run happy and post selfies-with-medals made me feel oh so bad about where I was with no races to look forward to, no training logs to adhere to, no goals to measure my progress by… it was all just (temporarily) over. Plainly put, I was depressed and felt like shit.
After the first month of healing, I realized that over the years I have come to mistakenly associate my identity with running. When I used to say to my friends, “Running is something I do, it is not who I am.” I guess I was lying. It took this stupid injury to force me to see the light… without running, I felt lost, useless, unimportant, and defeated; but, I have finally realized that I am so much more than running, running should not be the dictator of my life, plus- this will be a shocker, I’m sure- fitness is actually not synonymous with running, fitness is also so much more…
I figured, “Well, if I am injured and “resting” I might as well try to have some fun at the same time!” and starting socializing more, going out more, also eating and drinking more. I gave up counting every calorie of every little thing I put into my mouth, I said “YES!” to late nights out with friends when before I always said “NO! I have to run in the morning,” and I even planned weekends away that did not revolve around a race, rather, just spending time with friends and family and enjoying life- yes, withOUT running.
It’s all really ebbed and flowed for me these long months… sometimes I feel horrible about myself and ache to run again whereas sometimes I feel thankful for the time off and this break from the minutiae of training and running. Sometimes I’ve even considered giving up running for the rest of this year in order to focus on other forms of fitness… but that line of thought never lasts long as I begin to compromise with myself, “You can just do 5Ks! You can just do more trails!”
A couple weeks ago, my orthotics finally arrived and I was able to take off that fricking boot in order to start breaking in the orthotics. I bugged my podiatrist incessantly about running again so he finally gave in and allowed me to do two, just two, miles on the ‘mill and made me promise not to run the road until the orthotics were 100% broken in. I ran the 2 miles and ohmigosh it was SO DIFFICULT! All the extra calories without exercise took a definite toll and I felt heavier, weak, clumsy, and oh so very slow.
Surprisingly, I was totally okay with that enough to stop running for the time being in order to focus my work outs on activities that will get me back to the road slimmer, stronger, and confident. Back to the weight room, back to a regular yoga practice, and back to spin class. All of which I am KILLING and feeling oh so happy about my progress, I feel the strength coming back, and am embracing my improved fitness- yes, withOUT running.
All that being said, I completed a race yesterday (my first in 5 months!), the 10.6 miler within the Big Sur International Marathon. I signed up before the injury, of course, and wrestled with giving it up or doing it and finally decided to do the damn thing. With a 6 hour course limit, I figured I could walk it no problem, but of course being surrounded by runners and already wearing my trusty sports bra, I ran a lot more than I thought I would be able to, walked when I wanted/needed to and no matter what the time on the clock said at the end, I truly LOVED every single minute of it!
Having 10+ miles to consider my feelings toward this injury and all I’ve gone through mentally, physically, and emotionally over these injury months, the more determined I felt to get back to running but in a different way… a gentler, kinder, not-so serious way. I want to run but I want to have fun with it- the number of races and number of miles have absolutely nothing to do with who I am as a person. I am a good, valuable person whether I am running or not. Injuries besides, I never, ever want to out run my joy of running and I now know that I am also never, ever giving it up.