What do you call a runner that can’t run? Depressed.
Junior year of high school I went from being the starting point guard to the score keeper in a cast days before the season was set to start. With half the basketball season out of the question, I sat on the sidelines and watched my team move on without me. I spent more time crying and feeling sorry for myself than I did practicing.
Now it’s years later, my team is just me, myself, and I, and yet being forced to stop doing what I love feels an awful lot like that ruined basketball season. I spend my time obsessing over all of the things I can’t do and wallowing in jealousy over everything everyone else is doing without me.
Almost exactly a year ago I had my first inklings of pain in my feet. As my injury progressed, I spent two months unable to run (and losing my mind). I didn’t know what to do with myself, and the thought of losing all of the strength and endurance I worked so hard for for years just wasting away while I had to rest physically hurt almost as much as my feet and ankles. I tried running and not running, doing yoga, going for a swim, riding my bike, but no matter what the pain followed (and often worsened). Meanwhile the weeks ticked by and my half marathon grew closer and my mileage goals for the year more impossible.
With each doctors appointment, new shoes, new inserts, etc. I got a sense of hope and would finally start to feel my mood lift. But days or weeks later when there wasn’t any improvement and I couldn’t sit still without thinking about the pain in my feet, I was right back under my dark cloud that rains all over me. I was desperate for a turning point and for some real hope. I started to throw myself into my PT exercises, contrast baths, and everything else I could do to heal faster. I stayed away from sugar and other foods that are taxing on my body. I pushed through some pain and pulled back before I made things worse. I listened to my body (and hopelessly ignored it). And it worked. I slowly got better. I got stronger. I ran a half marathon. And then another eight weeks later. All the while I lived in fear that my pain would return, that I would be broken again. Sidelined. But after a while the fear faded, and with it went my adherence to my exercises, the contrast baths, the self-massages, the intuition to listen to every little twinge in my body.
A photo posted by Mandy Ferreira (@treading_lightly) on
I got careless.
And I paid for it.
It’s a year later, and my PTT is back. Another flair-up. Another setback. Another frustration.
But this time I know. I know I need to be doing my exercises. I know my shoes aren’t going to be a magical fix. I won’t suddenly wake up one morning able to run 13 miles.
Comeback’s are a struggle. But they are worth fighting for. I have four weeks until I run my first race since October, and I am sure as hell going to be at that starting line strong. I am going to strengthen my hips, my ankles, my feet. I will create a solid base that will keep me going through the summer and into the fall. I am going to have months without pain, without limits.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’m looking forward to being set free, to being stronger than before.