Tuesday, April 28, 2009

pheidippidation meditations

I miss running. There's nothing better than going for a long run on a cool, breezy, spring day- the sun shining, the leaves budding, and the challenge of a race looming. But not this year, not for me.

(remember this? Last October at one of my half marathons- personal best!)

Last year, I started running more than ever with my running group, a spectacular group of ladies we call, "The FAST Group." We're not particularly fast, nor do we try to be. We just love to run, have fun, drink some margaritas, and support each other. At 28, I'm the youngest of the group! With my group, I began to run longer, harder, and faster. Every Saturday morning, I would get up early and head to Eagle Creek to run six, eight, ten, or more miles. There were a lot of mornings I didn't want to get up- in the heat of the summer, we began running at 6am, and even then runs were long and hot. I ran three "official" half marathons- each time getting closer and closer to beating my personal best, set in Philadelphia on a flat course four years ago. Then, of course, there was my marathon in November that I trained so hard for.

I was in the best shape I've ever been in, even counting college! And yet, I could feel the stress of running such long distances. I'd never been one to be sore after running, but now my legs would be sore for a few days after a hard run. My shoulders were aching from carrying the weight of my core for hours on end. And most painfully, my feet were hurting- heel, ankle, top, everything. I'd had foot pain before, and usually healed it by getting new insoles or new shoes. Neither helped this time.

My GP told me to take time off- at the time, with two half marathons coming up, and the desire to train for a November marathon, it was not an option.  The pain continued, until it hurt every day, all day, even when I wasn't running.  My orthopedic doctor diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis. Prescription: constant ice packs, sports massage, stretching, stretching, more stretching, and less running. That, I could handle. Even with all that, and cortisone shots in both feet, I still wasn't getting better.

mile 26.2

Anti-inflammatory medications made things worse.  They gave me ulcers, which kept me from absorbing the nutrients I needed to run my marathon, and end up causing more medical problems in the long run. Several more sessions of foot massage and cupping, a few bottles of Tylenol later, more visits to the doctor, and two more cortisone shots later, I'm on offical "no running" rest. No walking the dogs, no standing in line for things, no running the Mini Marathon this weekend.

I'm really struggling with not being able to run- it's more than just a workout for me. It's a stress reliever when work is frustrating. It's a way to relax when I have had a long day. It's a way to challenge myself. As my ortho doctor pointed out, running is as much a mental release as it is a physical one.  I am spending several hours a week on the bike and in the pool, but I'm not feeling the same challenge I felt when I hit the pavement.

I have to keep trying, though, no matter how mind numbingly boring I find swimming laps. If taking a month (two months? three??) break will finally heal my feet, then that's what I'm going to do. I need to feel that runner's high again soon!

Bonus: Pheidippides is generally credited as the father of the marathon, when he ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek's victory over Persia. You see a lot of t-shirts in running that say, "Why couldn't Pheidippides have stopped at 20?"

Bonus 2: "Phedippidations" is a running podcast I listen to, found on iTunes.

No comments:

Intense Debate Comments