I am sure my injury/comeback posts are beginning to get a tad redundant, mundane, whiney, etc., (let’s be honest, they are.) but to be fair we are going on 20 weeks of ridiculousness since I last really RAN and TRAINED. I have dubbed this my 20 Week Plantarversary. How cute. Should I make a cake for the occasion? There have been some glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel though, although most of them have ended up being a train, but hey a glimmer is a glimmer! And and least I can say I’ve PR’ed, even if it is a Layoff PR.
In a way, stuff is a little rock bottom at the moment. At least as far as my 14ish years worth of running go. I know, melodramatic right? It’s just a setback I know, but I don’t like the fact that not running has become the norm. I know I’m super fortunate though to have a great doc and PT in my corner helping me to unravel this stubborn injury, among several other things–the body’s mechanics can be the biggest puzzle–but for the most part I’m still treading water (figuratively AND literally!) when I had expected to be back out there a long time ago. Mountains are so much more frustrating when they initially appeared to be only molehills.
The body still seems rather displeased with me for the moment, and now I know that my foot was messed up because of X, which was exacerbated by Y, which is out of whack because of A, B, and C, however, because said foot was/is messed up, now D, E and F are also slightly malfunctioning. Isn’t that neat? You could say things snowballed a bit, which is my own dang fault. So now there is an arsenal of tedious things that need to be done to fix all of that, which I know will ultimately be a small price to pay when things become right again. Quite frankly though, all of these imbalances and weaknesses make me not real sure how I’ve ever managed to run at all, but maybe that’s the effect that learning about all of those flaws has on a person.
However, I need a new approach besides just counting the weeks while going through the motions. I’m not a particularly unmotivated person when it comes to all things running, on the contrary, but when there is not a time frame or an end in sight, it’s become a hell of a lot harder to enthusiastically tackle all of the tedious and boring work it takes to get back to normal while wondering when things will finally turn a corner. I think it’s made harder mostly owing to the fact that 6 months ago I didn’t think running could ever get any more fun and awesome, now I’m not sure if it could possibly be less fun or less awesome, talk about the ultimate high followed by the ultimate low. I know I’ll get stuff straightened out, but there just isn’t much joy in running at the moment. But there must be some silver linings and teachable moments in here somewhere…right? Right! Plus, even though thus far I am a bit unimpressed with 2015, I like to think I’m getting all the bad stuff out of the way at one time, and am shortly due for at least a decade of healthy, uninterrupted training.
So what have I learned from this epic mountain of frustration resulting from this tiny, seemingly insignificant body part: my foot? Surely you cannot be serious? Well, I am serious (and don’t call me Shirley!). More importantly, what have I learned during my time away from my BFF (Running)?
I should start by saying that I have learned that no (wo)man is an island. If I didn’t have other people helping me to keep my s**t together I’d have succumbed a long time ago to all of the various runner psycho-pathologies and been out doing as much as I could as hard as I could and that probably would have worked out for…a week. Historically that approach has only worked out for about that long. And then I’d be out for…oh, probably 20 more weeks.
Also, I have gleaned much running wisdom from my friend/local PT/mountain runner extraordinaire Simon “the GOAT” Guttierrez–who is like a fast Yoda/Buddha/Dahli Lama/Guru runner person thing–who keeps my brain in check and keeps me from getting the cart ahead of the horse while I’m in this maddening, neuroses-inducing purgatory of not-completely-injured-but-definitely-not-healthy-either, and has made me realize that time IS in fact on my side and that if I want to do any fun/rad stuff in this sport in the future then quite frankly, I need to be more patient and less of a dumbass (he is a little more polite and articulate than that) and take advantage of that fact.
Seriously, I go in there with my impassioned speech/rant (that I rehearsed in the car on the way there, and probably in the shower before that) about how I am DONE taking time off from now until FOREVER and I am going to get back at it RIGHT NOW TODAY IMMEDIATELY because Zermatt waits for no one, foot be damned and it can fall right off for all I care! It deserves it! Get out of my life Foot! What good are you? Who even needs feet anyway?! Then he proceeds to calmly and smilingly crush my soul with his perfectly rational logic, and then somehow I walk out feeling as though a conservative, patient, big-picture approach is perfectly wise and reasonable, even if it means another 3 months (although I absolutely refuse to believe it will be that long), and I’m all like calm about it which is weird and I’m concerned. He’s like a magician too! How does he do it? He has also inspired me with epic tales of conquering Mt. Washington on 13 weeks of training on an elliptical and 3 days of running prior to race day, so I’ve got that going for me. At the least it would make a cool story. Mostly though he keeps telling me to “listen to my body,” but to be quite honest I am still not really sure how that works.
Nonetheless, for the time being I have to respect the threshold that I’ve got, even if it’s nothing like what I’m used to being able to do. I would rather not say exactly what said threshold is because it’s embarrassing, but lets just say I’m right there with my high school freshman self as far as mileage and intensity goes (and I was a 30-plus minute 5k girl at that time so…). I’ve also picked Anita Ortiz’s brain since she dealt with the same thing a long time ago but fared a bit less well, but it should be noted that she is still a total badass regardless, so that’s comforting! So thankfully, I’m surrounded by people who are a lot smarter than me. Those Masters runners, they know their stuff! Even if only because they’ve F-ed up enough times to figure most things out the hard way.
As Simon says, “If we could all train as hard and as much as we wanted and never get hurt? Well, let’s just say that’s what Heaven is for.”
So I can’t lie, there have been some (many) low points on the current one-step-forward-three-to-five-steps-back comeback regimen. I even had to boot myself off of the old Facebook because I wasn’t sure I could stand to see another great race photo or super fit runner blowing a PR to smithereens or crushing a workout. It makes me all like–what do the hipsters say these days? Oh yeah, “totes jelly.” Selfish and unsupportive of me, I know, but social media is sometimes not all that helpful when you’re feeling like poo about yourself, it gets you to wondering if anyone else ever feels like poo too.
But admittedly more than a few times over recent weeks/months I’ve really, really started to wonder what would happen if I threw in the towel and found something else to pour this same amount of weirdly obsessive energy into? Something that produced more…meaningful results, and maybe with a little less heartbreak thrown in? Because seriously, is this really worth it? I mean, you bust your butt and it can still be a total crap-shoot and all it takes is one wee mishap like this to undo weeks and months of single-minded effort. Then you watch elite races and think that no way will you ever be like so-and-so no matter what you do, so WHAT ARE YOU DOING, and is it worth the ups and downs, and is any of it really even important and if it is, then why?
But recently–because I’ve had a lot of reading time–my new friend The Little Prince fell to Earth from Asteroid B-612 and helped me out a little:
So I put my high school AP English brain to work here and determined that “the rose” could be a metaphor for whatever it is that you are passionate about. There might be a million “roses” out there, but you have yours and it’s the time and effort that you put into it that makes it important and meaningful, even if not to anyone else, and you have a responsibility to it–and of course to yourself–as a result. It might sound a little flowery (see what I did there?), but it stopped my wondering.
Or my high school AP English brain could be totally off the mark and on the fritz, but whatever, works for me. Sometimes you really have to reach for this stuff.
Back to the present. I don’t write this to have a pity-party for myself, believe it or not, but more for the fact that I am banking on being able to look back on all this nonsense in a few months and see it as just another speed bump that ended up being worthwhile in the end and ultimately making everything better, and I will be able to say to myself, “I told you so!” Still though, I sure hope everything will return to normal again reeeeally soon, because the trails are looking better everyday.