Happy October! A lot of things have changed since my last post, but one thing hasn’t: my heel still hurts. A lot. I’m here to tell you that Plantar Fasciitis is an absolute nightmare.
I got plantar fasciitis in my right foot during the last month of training for Pineland Farms 50K, which you may recall was in May. Five months ago. I ran all 32 miles of that race with plantar fasciitis, and the heel pain mostly faded into the background of the day’s many pains and victories. At a pub run three days after that race I ran my fastest ever 5k according to Strava, which was a speed achievement, yeah, but more importantly a recovery achievement to be able to run so strong so soon after my longest distance yet. In June I ran the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon in 1:58:59, fulfilling my goal of running a sub two-hour half marathon. For me, a person who clearly remembers a time when hitting a 10:30 mile during a short run was the absolute very best I could do, maintaining below an average of 9:10 minutes per mile FOR 13.1 MILES was a giant victory. I did it with plantar fasciitis. At work the Monday and Tuesday following the race day, my heel hurt like hell, and I decided it was finally time to try giving it a rest.
I’m still #*@$ing resting.
I’m not going to go into all the ups and downs of treatment, cortisone shots, stretches, miracle inserts, etc, etc, etc. Many people have struggled with plantar fasciitis, and everyone has different things that worked for them. On good days, I’m taking everyone’s advice and trying everything. On bad days, I’m feeling too overwhelmed and demotivated to even do 30 seconds of stretching. With running out of the equation, it seemed pretty clear that standing all day in a food service job was actively contributing to my heel pain. So I put in my notice, and a few weeks ago I stopped working at the donut shop. I’ve now returned to office work, starting in a temporary position. A week or so in, my foot still hurts. But I’m trying to make the best decisions I can, and I’m trying to keep my spirits up. Which I keep saying, over and over. The forced deadline helped me make a necessary and exciting career change. I’m going to the gym as often as I can. I’m spending more time reading, and writing, and working on myself. And I am so angry that I’m not able to run.
Running is exercise, but it’s also tied to my identity, my social life, my goal-setting, and my mental health. Without it I am struggling. Seasonal depression is hitting hard because I deal with winter by running in it. Running is something that quiets all those voices that are constantly wondering if I did enough today, if I lived life to the fullest, if I worked hard enough, if I made the right choices and didn’t miss out on anything amazing. When I spend time running outdoors I don’t regret it. Never. Not once.
People ask if I can just switch to a lower-impact exercise for a few months. Yes, I can, but it doesn’t replace running and it doesn’t make me any less sad that I’m missing out on so many group running adventures and solo runs on beautiful fall and summer days. I can still go to the social events around the runs, and I do, but without all the running endorphins it’s not quite the same. I am working my way toward doing more low-impact exercises to replace the running endorphins, but I haven’t spent years building shortcuts in my brain that make it easier to go swimming or biking. There are more mental blocks between the thought and the action: What if all the lanes are full at the pool? Where do I even buy chain grease? Where are my goggles? Biking could at least get me outside, which might help a lot, but it still isn’t running and it’s just. Not. The. Same.
I know that I am very lucky to have so many great things in my life, and I know I will get back to running eventually. Thanks for your patience if I seem a little grumpy in the meantime.