It stirs a lot of emotions to type the title to this post. I’ve fought long and hard to work my way through an injury since early in the summer and I may have found the end of that battle. I’m on the losing end. Back in June I was doing some sprint work on the track with one of my clients when I felt a sharp pain in my left heel as I slowed down from a 100m sprint. I assumed at the time that I had just hit my heel too hard on the ground, and I would walk it off. I’ve been trying to walk it off ever since with little success.
I have had my heel x-rayed a total of five times since that terrible day, and each time the results were the same until a few days ago. It felt like the spur was getting bigger and more sensitive in recent weeks so I had it x-rayed again, and the spur is more prominent and visible than ever before. Of course the doctor said I should stop running, but that is not an option at this point. The reason it’s getting worse is I am in the middle of running some long distances to get ready for the Goofy Challenge in January. I have run the vast majority of those miles in my ZEMs, and I could tell that my form was changing and that I was landing differently on my foot. I could not override my brain’s natural defense mechanisms and keep my form the same so I wound up aggravating the little piece of bone that is protruding from my heel toward the ground.
I, of course, told the doctor that there is no way I can skip this run. I have too many obligations to this run, and I really need to be able to run it. So we made a compromise that I am working on learning to live with.
I HAVE TO WEAR SHOES.
There really is no way around it if I want to be able to get through this race weekend at Disney World, and I really do. We talked some about the types of shoes I was willing to wear, and we settled on a minimum of 10mm in sole thickness, which allows me to wear racing flats. The biggest request he had was that I wear a shoe that has some cushioning to it, which means they need to consist of some sort of springy foam or rubber in the sole. I decided I could live with these parameters and am now on a quest to find a shoe to get me through this grueling two-day event.
I have two things I feel will be a challenge. Number one will be finding a shoe that keeps me feeling somewhat natural but also protects my heel. The second will be learning how to run in shoes again, and I fear that this will actually be the biggest challenge. I went out on a 15 mile run today that turned into a 7 miler because I was spent. I was worn out because my legs were not used to wearing shoes in the act of running. I was in a pair of Saucony A4s that are looking like my race shoe at this point unless I can get some desired Inov8s in time for race day. On my run today my hip flexors and quads were on fire after two miles and by the third mile felt completely spent.
I was also shocked at how much my feet searched for ground feedback in the “thin” Sauconys as well as how much my ankles ached at times. I attribute this all to simply not being used to the feeling of shoes anymore. It was only a year ago that I still used conventional shoes in my regimen, but that year has really changed my running life, and I can see an interesting trip back to what I once knew as normal.
So I will be chronicling the next five weeks as I try to relearn running in shoes, and I will share it all with you here. Thankfully I’m a running coach and have a few tricks up my sleeve, but after today I almost feel as though I am learning to run all over again so it could be an interesting journey to be ready for a marathon and a half in just a short five-week period.