Skip to main content

New Loves and Beginning Again

In my two months off from running, I'd gotten into a decent pattern of "other" training. Not that I was training for anything in particular--more training to stay in shape for my return to running. In a good week, I would dedicate two days to biking, two days to swimming, and two days to cardio and strength training at the gym. Although frustrating at first, I honestly have come to enjoy all of it--especially the diversity of new activities.

Initially I told myself I wanted to avoid running for six weeks, which I thought would feel like forever. And while it did feel that way for the first three weeks, I found that I got so absorbed in the other activities I was doing that I practically forgot about running. Then six weeks passed. Then seven, then eight. I was afraid to run again. My foot felt good, but I feared that if I went out to try to run, I'd set myself back and have to take more time off.

During my time off, I saw a podiatrist. After my first appointment, he had me wear a support pad that stuck to the bottom of my foot, cut out in a "U" shape and surrounding the metatarsal joint where I was experiencing pain. Its purpose was to offload the pressure on that joint. But it's not been without its nuisances. For one, I have to remember to put it on--and take it off. I can't wear it in the water. When I do take it off, I have a sticky residue on my foot that I have to clean off, or pick up all of the fallen hairs and dust mites from my floor (which is one way to clean the floors). After a follow-up appointment, when I'd been doing considerably well, the doctor cut out part of my running shoe insole and inserted one of these U-pads in it, a sort of rigged custom orthotic. So then, all I had to do was run.

A little less than two weeks ago I tried my first run. I aimed to do three miles, what seemed like an appropriate coming-back distance. But, as Florida summers would have it, my run was cut short by an intense and immediate downpour. So I only got about half my distance in. And oddly, the pain I felt was not in my bad (left) foot; it was in my right ankle. Something new. Great.


The next attempt was at the gym, on the dreaded treadmill. And I was successful in getting a 5k distance in. What's more, my foot didn't seem to hurt. So the next week, on this past Monday, I tried running outside again, with my friend Nicole, who is signed up for the same November marathon as I am. We got four miles in, and I was feeling pretty good. So I thought I would try for a longer run on the weekend. So I planned to go to a group run at the Upper Tampa Bay Trail. But I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get up in time for it; I've had a really hard time waking up in the morning any earlier than I absolutely have to. So I committed to it on Facebook and on Meetup. This would surely help me be accountable. But sure enough, I slept through my three alarms and woke up at the time I was supposed to be at the run, 6:30. But I stayed up--a huge victory for me--and ran by myself near home. And I did the eight miles I'd planned to do. I felt a bit of pain in my foot from the start, but I wanted to see if it would wane after I'd gotten some distance in. And by the time I was four miles in, I wasn't feeling much pain, so all I had to do was make it back. But toward the end of the run, my foot was hurting fairly significantly, but I ran through it and finished at a decent pace.

This would have been perfect if I'd felt no pain.

I really loved the feeling of running again. But I can't continue to do it if I feel the pain I felt toward the end of that run. I'm not sure the rigged orthotic is providing enough support. I may need to do some further rigging and try again, perhaps with less mileage.

In all of my off-time,  however, I've learned that I can still be fulfilled, athletically, without running. That has been a good lesson for me. And what's more, I've come to really love swimming, and I've realized I'm not so bad at it, once I got the breathing down. Perhaps what I love is the freedom I feel surrounded and supported by the water, which allows me to flow gracefully (sort of), removed from the outside world, fish-like. Although I'm still far from having "good" form, I've swum as far as 2,750 yards in the pool without feeling burned out. I used to only be able to last 15 minutes, and now I'm nearly up to an hour. And I feel stronger every time I go in the water. It's nice to feel the confidence of getting better at something; in a way I felt I'd lost that with running (although that's not true; I just stopped trying new ways of training).

The bike, though, is a different story. I'm getting better at that, too, but I still feel rather clumsy on it. I've fallen several times now while clipped in, and I foresee numerous more opportunities to fall in my future.

First fall.

Second fall--no skin lost :)

Third and fourth falls. That's one giant bruise across my lower leg.

I think I will ride out this hybrid bike for a while and, assuming I still want to keep riding, eventually trade it in for a road bike again. I'm still giving myself a chance to truly enjoy the sport. It's challenging--that's for sure. Right now I embrace the challenge.

For the coming weeks, I hope to continue biking and swimming and strength training while still working in some more trial runs. And I hope they are largely without pain. The fact that I'm still hopeful, still motivated, can carry me a long way.


People Liked to Read...

Surgery Chronicles: Start Here

I alluded in my last post to upcoming foot surgeries I'd soon be posting about. I'm now 19 days away from the first one, and my thoughts pretty constantly revolve around how my life will change after that when I wake up from my "twilight" sleep after the first operation. In my best frame of mind, the scenario is like this: I'll spend a few weeks out of commission, getting some forced rest, spend a few weeks in a boot, limited exercise, and my right foot will be recovered. Then I repeat on the left foot and by fall I'm back on my feet again. That's the Twitter version. But the version that most often plays out in my head is more like a volume of books, with the details of every day painstakingly planned, agonized over, and wondered about. How will I make food? Bathe? Focus on work? Get the mail, take out the trash, do laundry? Will I be in a lot of pain? Will I go crazy during my long days isolated at home? Will people forget about me? Will I get the resul…

Surgery Chronicles: Two Weeks Down

At the end of week two, I'm home on my own and feeling pretty good. But it definitely feels like time has moved slowly. Hopefully the coming weeks will go by a little faster, now that I'm set up for a routine and able to do more for myself.
First Follow-up I had my first follow-up appointment last week, which I'd been looking forward to pretty much since the day after surgery. Possibly because I was anticipating it so much, it felt like it would never come. But it did, and it went very well. I got my bulky dressing and "upper foot" cast off, and I finally saw my new foot! Of course, it wasn't beautiful; it was still tinted orange from the betadine used in surgery prep, it was swollen and a little bruised, and my incision was still healing and had strips of medical tape running along it (I'll save a barefoot photo for a later post). But my bunion was gone and my toe was aligned! That was the goal, and it was achieved.

The doctor said it only looked like I …

2017 and Beyond

If this sounds like a very late new year resolutions post, that's because it is. I never quite finished expounding on my goals for the year, but I wrote 10 things down, so I figure it's worth posting. Plus, I'm going to have lots of cause to post more in the coming months, as I (plan to) chronicle my upcoming foot surgeries, so I may as well resurrect the blog now.
I started out last year's resolutions post saying, "This past year was one of the most challenging years of my life." But 2016 has proven to be a hearty rival. The year was heavily mixed with positive and negative events, emotions all over the place. The good: I ran again, I swam, I came back to yoga, I wrote a lot (just not here), I blossomed at work, I loved my family hard. The bad: I injured myself again and couldn't run, I gave up on biking (but later picked it back up), I floundered trying to find purpose, I distanced myself from friends, and I nearly drowned in my anxiety. But I tried, in…