Another update is in order as I’ve made great strides with the rehabilitation of my foot in the past few weeks. (Yes, pun intended—always!) The big news is: I’ve started running! This is something I doubted I would be able to do. In fact, a year ago at this time, I was still going to physical therapy after getting my screws removed and feeling pretty frustrated. I was at the point where I thought I would always be in pain and never able to run again. I will admit I do have daily discomfort with my foot. It is mostly sore or stiff rather than the pain I used to have. It has become the norm and I have learned to live with it. I have found that when I am inactive, it gets just as sore as when I am active so why not be active and enjoy the things I love to do? Which brings us back to running.
I never considered myself a runner. I remember trying out for the track team when I was in junior high because one of my friends had been training and was going to do it. She said I should join. I thought, sure, ok, it could be fun. Having had no conditioning whatsoever, I tried out for track. I sprinted around the track as fast as I could. I quickly fell behind the experienced runners and although I wasn’t dead last, I didn’t do well. I was seeing stars and wasn’t sure if my lungs could ever get enough air. Needless to say, I didn’t make the team. I suspect that is when I first came up with the idea that I was not a runner. Really, most of my experiences with sports were similar. I remember trying out for basketball with similar results. I pretty much gave up trying out for sports after those experiences. I figured I just wasn’t athletic rather than the reality being I was inexperienced and unconditioned.
I did play two sports after school in grade school: softball and soccer. I wasn’t very good at softball because I was afraid of the ball smashing into my face. Soccer was the only good experience I had with team sports and it wasn’t because I was particularly gifted. It was because the coach was my friend’s dad and he took the time to actually encourage and coach me. I got better; I had small successes and found that I could play different positions. My point here is that having the right coach makes all the difference. In hindsight, I can see that trying out for track and basketball with absolutely no training was a little bit crazy. I expected to be proficient in something that I had never done. I admire that I had the guts to try. And that’s something that has stayed with me. I keep trying. My first coach I had as an adult, Andrew (I think I mentioned him before), had an email signature that included this proverb: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
Andrew got me into running. I thought he was crazy when he suggested it as I considered that to be an athletic thing to do and I had this belief I wasn’t an athlete. After I started and got over the initial hump, I found I really enjoyed it. I liked the rhythm I could get into, how I moved through the landscape, feeling the breeze, smelling the fresh air and working things out in my head effortlessly. I have done a few 5k’s in the past and they were challenging, but not grueling. For me, it is more about the experience of running than breaking any records or winning.
I didn’t know how much I missed it until I ran that first mile. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been going to Iron Root Studio and doing kettle bells, group fitness (a Crossfit/boot camp type workout) and yoga five days a week. This has given me a solid foundation of fitness. Amy, the owner, has been extremely helpful in helping me break through barriers and increase strength and flexibility not only in my foot but my entire body. She has that unique talent of knowing when to push me and how to encourage me in a supportive way. She seems to know what I am capable of better I do and that is part of what makes her such a great instructor.
I told her I wanted to start running again. She asked why I wanted to run. I told her that I wanted to do a 5k. Why? Because I hadn’t done one since 2012, it would boost my confidence and help me realize I really have made a full recovery. She asked what was holding me back from running? I told her it was basically fear: fear of reinjuring my foot, pain, falling or tripping on uneven pavement…things that were possible but not probable. She suggested I go run a mile on a track (since it is softer, level and way more even than the sidewalk or roads around here) and see how my foot felt the next day as a test. I balked and said, you mean run a mile non-stop? She was completely confident that I could do it. I wasn’t convinced.
I went the next day anyway. I found the track, turned on my iPod and began to jog. The first lap, I had a little trouble finding my rhythm. It’d been two and half years since I’d attempted running non-stop. The second lap, I focused on my form. The third lap, I was surprised I was not winded. And the fourth lap, I thought, I bet I could do more. I stopped because although “some is good, more is better”, I had passed the test! I went to yoga class and told Amy of my accomplishment. I was super stoked and flying high the rest of the day. The next test was two miles. I did that Friday.
I was super wired because I’d been studying all day for a really big test and it was stressing me out. I had also drunk far too much caffeinated coffee, which was adding to my anxiety. I went to the track and ran. The first mile went well. I was able to find my groove quickly. After about a mile and a half, I had to put in a wee bit more effort but I knew I could do the two miles. I finished in 24 minutes. Not too shabby for someone that hasn’t run in over two years. I’m confident that I can run a 5k very soon. I intend to do three miles on the track this week and see how that goes.
I will have to do some training on the streets, as there will be elevation and uneven surfaces to consider when I sign up for a 5k. Yes, you read that right, I will be signing up for a 5k. And it will likely be before my goal of completing one around my two-year anniversary of injuring myself. Wooooohoooooo! I’m nervous about taking to the streets and confronting the uneven pavement. I will face that fear soon, when I scope out an appropriate route. In the meantime, I will continue to train at the track. Incidentally, I am using a track in a place called Phoenix Park II, which I find quite fitting since I relate to the Phoenix rising from the ashes. A friend told me that the track was used by Olympians to warm up in the 1996 Summer Olympics. That’s pretty cool!
If you are currently rehabilitating from an injury, Lisfranc or otherwise, I would encourage you to keep your final goals in mind, take small steps toward those goals and find someone who can help coach you through them. Sometimes it takes someone else believing in us to reach our potential. Self-doubts are strong and it’s necessary to ask for help sometimes. To ask for help and support is a sign of strength and self-awareness. It makes me really happy and excited that I will be a helpful resource to those in need when I finish my Therapeutic Recreation degree and certification. I have some really great mentors in Andrew and Amy.
This path hasn’t been easy or linear. There have been more than a few times in this rehab when the words of The Smiths have echoed in my head:
“So you go and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home and you cry
And you want to die”
What has helped me most is realizing I don’t have to be alone. I have people who support me and are willing to believe in me when I am having trouble believing in myself. You can do more than you think you can. Just keep trying. I am proof of this.