Non-runners can be pretty harsh on runners. They’d only run if they were being chased by zombies. Which makes me laugh. Because when the zombies come, People who don’t Cardio will be eaten first. Rule #2 of the Zombie Apocalypse.
But I digress. Non-runners can’t imagine people running without being chased, and they can’t imagine running for the fun of it, so they sure as Sherlock can’t imagine running with pain without being chased and claiming they enjoyed it.
And yet, there I was. Waking up with Plantar Fascitis stiffening up my left foot, looking for my running shoes, taking Juno on the backyard greenway. With every step, the foot loosened, and by the time I had crossed the main road and descended the steps, I was settling into a slow gallop in stride with the husky pace.
I promised myself to run a race in a few weeks, the Dirty Dozen obstacle race at the WWC. So even though I often struggle with heel pain on some days, I get started this morning. It sounds like self-loathing flagellation, I’m sure. But all of the medical advice I’ve sought– from my GP to WebMD–have assured me that Plantar Fascitis is a condition you mange and live with as a runner. It won’t cause permanent damage. Last year, Marcus Paige of the Tar Heels played entire college basketball season with it: the pattern was familiar. He was a bit slow and stiff until the first TV time out. Then he would warm up and only need a few brief rests throughout the game. So, I promised myself a race, and that means I stay on schedule and run, even if I have to warm up with a little pain.
I ran the race last year, and know what the training it entails. Today was the slow, distance building run, a steady pace for about an hour and a half, barely pushing a pace that quickens the breath. Maybe 7-8 miles, I’d guess. The foot flared up again as I hit the hill (climbing aggravates it),the halfway point of the run, then settled back down.
The morning itself was beautiful. Juno and I ran into a state-wide high school cross country meet on the greenway, but the section in the woods we quiet and cool. On the way back through the melee, I had small breaks because kids wanted to pet Juno–more times than I could actually stop.
The pain flared a little as I neared the last mile and a half. The only way you actually get rid of PF is to stop for running for a while. I dread that. Sometimes I think that the endorphin rush–the runner’s high–is the monkey on my back. But I’ve promised myself that I’ll take a break after this race. I’ve been training for some form of race since June, and my legs could use a rest. So I’ve been psyching myself up to knock it back to yoga and swimming for a bit. But even at that, even with my heel flaring–and working this imbalance into my right quad–I think “I could probably get by with just one run a week–you know–just one a week. Just one fix a week isn’t a problem, is it?
That other part of my brain speaks up: what are you–crazy?
But to be honest (and maybe this is the junkie rationalizing), it’s not the running that hurts. It the everyday life. This particular bout of PF started soon after I ran the Amphibious Duathalon. I had scheduled two weeks to rest before resuming training. In that interim, we vacationed in DC with friends, where–according to my smartphone–we logged between 27-30 miles over three days among the monuments and the subway and the zoo and the subway and the bar and the subway, more than most three-day hiking trips I take.
And somewhere near the end of the trip through the Holocaust Museum, my left leg began to feel the impact of the concrete of the city. Upon returning home, I got right back into school where I walk on 1950’s concrete floors, which I would bet the house and the farm have asbestos in them. My doctor has already told me years ago that I should just start wearing running shoes to work. I got a rug this year. And I discovered–again from the smartphone–that I routinely log 5-7 miles a day walking as I teach. And there are times where walking around school, my heel is far more painful teaching than it ever gets running, and I won’t be stopping THAT any time soon.
Soon I was home, and I had to deal with a stray dog that followed me up the street on my cool-down walk.
And by the time I finally got to my breakfast, the effort had worn me out. I fell asleep scratching the dog for a long and necessary nap. Sometimes the body says, “Hold on, Bub!” And you just gotta listen. And as tired as I was this afternoon, I’m already trying to figure out how to fit in three runs next week, and if basketball can count as a run, and how to run the speed, or which trails to hit. The race is only three more weeks away.
I’ll need that break afterward, and then get to run without pain or making myself do it when I may not want to, just because I promised myself a race. I can run at a galloping husky pace, and just take few leisurely miles. Or not. I can stop anytime I want. I. mean, I know there a couple of races in the spring I could score, but I can hold off for a bit, I swear.