After nearly three decades in the sport, it was my first sidelining injury from running (yeah, yeah, hate me)—and it scared the stuffing out of me. I vividly remember how the pain would build up the more time I spent on my feet: After hours of standing and coaching my Girls on the Run protégés at their culmination 5K—a popular evening race in downtown Portland—I nearly cried on the bus ride home. My right heel throbbed and hurt so badly, I winced with every gimpy step I took. After taking several months off running, then easing back into it, I was finally pain free about eight months later. At its peak, my 2011 PF pain was an 8 on a scale of 1-to-10; I was running regularly on it by the time it got to about a 3.
Seven years older, and I’ve grown more cautious. Thus when a PF-ish twinge hit my left heel in late March, I only ran on it for a few days before sidelining myself. My last run was on March 31. I told my BRF, Molly,—and myself—I was taking off the month of April from running. But after diligent, daily foam rolling, twice-a-day Aleve, and basically living in Oofos sandals and shoes, the discomfort (I can’t even call it “pain”—more on that in a moment) remained the same, so I’m now nearing the end of Month 2 of No Running.
I’m still plenty active: I’ve just had to remind myself there are other athletic endeavors than our beloved running. I’m now a Cyclebar devotee, sweating through at least two classes per week, and taking a variety of strength classes. I’ve snuck in swims on many of my travels (including 2x at our Ogden Retreat!), and I recently started cycling outdoors. It’s a rough time of year to not be running—early sunrise, vivid flowers, trees flush with lush new leaves, cool morning temps—but I’ve got a new routine, and I’m holding steady. Most importantly: I’m not in limp-everywhere-while-gritting-my-teeth pain.
Back to the more-cautious thing: As I said, my 2011 PF pain was a strong 8, and I resumed running when it ducked below a 3. This time around, my discomfort has never even approached a 3, hovering around a 1. Sometimes spiking at 2, but often times dropping to 0. So I ask myself why I’m still not running.
Fear. Plain + simple.
I keep coming back to the fear that gripped me during my original battle with plantar fasciitis. I’ve met enough of you lovely ladies at expos, parties, and Retreats who tell horror stories of years-long bouts of PF to know this bugger-ailment can linger longer than a wart on a preschooler’s hand. I’m not willing to do-si-do with the pain/discomfort: I want it gone, and I want it gone for good. (Or at least another seven years—PF can be to this runner what cicadas are to the eastern U.S.!)
I toyed with the idea of resuming running—well, walk-running—today. But even though my foot can’t decipher a calendar, my current plan is to wait until Saturday. It feels right to take off a full two months.
Here’s hoping that’s not the only thing that feels right when I run.