I'm a Runner

The title of this blog may make you think, "Duh." Maybe a few of you even said it out loud. After all, even to me, it seems like running and exercise and diet are all I ever write about on here (and on facebook). But, I didn't realize how true the statement "I am a runner" has become in my life until today.

The last time I ran, before today, was September 1. That's when this stupid pain in my foot kicked in. I've been exercising since - aerobics, strength, flexibility, yadda yadda yadda - but it has all been in service of the ultimate goal: once again lacing up my running shoes and hitting the streets.

Having been pain free for more than a week, I decided to take a calculated risk and go for a jog this morning. I got up around 7, dressed in my decidedly non-fancy running duds, popped in my ear buds, and headed out the door.

Even as I started, I was thinking I'd just walk. Then I opened my C25K app, regressed to week 6, even though I was only one session away from week 8 when I got injured, and pressed "Begin Workout."

I was a bit nervous when I started jogging the first time - completely tuned in to any warning signs from my foot. My stride was clumsy at first but it smoothed out more quickly than I expected. Everything felt great.

When the C25K coach told me to begin walking, I was a little disappointed. I felt no need to rest but I followed her instructions. Throughout the second jogging section, I was thinking, "Maybe this foot injury isn't really a problem. This feels good! I LIKE RUNNING!!!"

That's when the thought hit me - I'm a runner. An injured, newbie runner, yes, but a runner nonetheless. I think I even had a tiny runner's high.

It was during the third jogging section that I got my first twinge. I kept going for a minute or so, feeling it out. When the pain didn't subside, I slowed to a walk - a very disappointed walk, I must say - and finished my trek home. I was nearly 2 miles into my run before I felt any pain at all. AT ALL.

The moral of this story is that, whatever the doctor recommends (we've been playing phone tag for the past couple of days), the ultimate goal of any treatment plan for my foot will need to be getting me back out running with the fewest number of invasive procedures possible. After all...


Broken Foot (or Complain, Complain, Complain)

Usually, when I go to the doctor, I leave feeling better. Maybe not 100% better but, at least, confident that there is a direction that will lead to healing. Didn't feel that way so much leaving the podiatrist today.

Today, leaving the doctor's office, I felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me. For nine weeks, I had been on track, holding steady, taking control of my health, and really beginning to enjoy running. Even after her initial assessment, the doctor seemed confident that it was probably just tendinitis. She had x-rays taken just to be sure it wasn't something with the bone.

Well, it was something with the bone. I saw the x-ray and thought, "What is that extra joint doing there?" Turns out, it wasn't an extra joint but an old fracture that had never been properly diagnosed or treated and had, therefore, not properly healed. In fact, the bone that broke didn't heal back together at all. You can clearly see the split in my x-ray. That means, that one of the bones in my foot is not bearing any weight at all - so the other bones and my muscles and tendons have to take up the slack. Which has led to tendinitis and the pain I've been experiencing. The doc hopes we can treat this with orthotic inserts but, if that doesn't work, surgery may be the next logical step. Surgery! On my foot! And I didn't think to ask whether she thought the inserts would be enough to get out running again or if that was just a measure to make me comfortable.

On the way home from the doctor, I started crying in my car. They were tears of anger and frustration. Some of it was frustration that I can't do what I want to right now, which is to exercise pretty intensely on a daily basis. Most of it was anger, though, that when I was fifteen, my mom had to consider her pocketbook when deciding whether I should receive medical care... anger that when I was fifteen, I knew how tight money was, and felt like I should downplay my pain to not stress/worry my mother... anger that whatever has to be done now to fix it will likely cost much more that it would have and be far more painful than it would have been to get it treated right away.

I know there are alternatives - I can find other activities to do - but right now it feels like they all involve gym memberships and/or expensive equipment that I can't afford. Running only requires a good pair of shoes and almost everything else is optional for the distances I can do. And aerobics requires a good floor space and a few DVDs borrowed from the library.

There are certain to be positive developments in this situation and I know there are lots of worse things that could have happened but, for today, I'm feeling down and I won't apologize for it.

The Anxiety of Rest

Last week, I was on vacation. It was truly lovely to visit one of my best friend's and her beautiful family but, while there, I experienced unexpected anxiety.

I've been at this exercise thing for two months now - twice a day, six days a week. I know, it sounds crazy but it makes me feel good. While I was in Houghton, I wanted to ease off a little, enjoy some rest and relaxation. I still worked out most days, but only once. I even got a really great run in with my amazing marathon-training Rebecca. I ran two whole miles without stopping - two runs in a row!!!

On the days I didn't get up in the morning to work out right away, I noticed that I spent many minutes throughout the rest of the day feeling anxious that I was losing momentum until I did some sort of exercise. In the back of my mind, there was (and is) this voice reminding me of the times I've started and quit in the past.

It taunts me, whispering, "Ha! This is how it happened before - you were going to take it easy for a week or you got sick or your muscles were extra sore and you never started again. You're a looosssseeer."

And, now, after a couple really great runs in Houghton, I'm injured. There wasn't a moment when it happened, so the diagnosis isn't obvious, but walking and running make my left foot and ankle hurt and it's a bit swollen. The pain is dull and achy, gone when I wake up but returning as soon as I've walked for a few minutes.

So, wisdom and running friends tell me that I shouldn't run on this foot. I probably shouldn't do aerobics on this foot either. If it doesn't go away in a few days, I'll need to go to the doctor. If it's the stress fracture I fear, it could mean 3-4 weeks of "rest."

And, I think I'm getting sick (sore throat and all that jazz), which is another good reason to rest and recover. But...

I DON'T WANT TO REST! I don't want to sit around. I want to run and do aerobics and practice yoga and lift weights. I want to finish couch to 5K and move on to 5K to 10K. I want to keep moving in the right direction, not stagnating on my couch. Most of all, I don't want to quit. I don't want to quit. I don't want to quit!

Please, dear God, don't let me quit.