The last 35 minutes has been the lowest point of my entire running life.
I have run through pain before. Sore knees, sprained ankles, not much has ever kept me from running for very long, especially in the last year. But it’s been five weeks since my last run and my rebellious streak told me that I should try to run a little tonight while I was walking my dog. I made it only a few hundred feet before I had to stop. It hurt so badly. There was a bench on the side of the path. I sat down, I rubbed my achey foot. And then I cried a little.
I am at a point of utter despair. I try to tell myself that this is all temporary, and that if I am patient I will run again before it gets cold out and this will all be a lesson in my rearview. But while I’m limping back home with a dog pulling on his leash for me to move at the speed he is used to, nothing seems temporary. I feel like a caged animal. Like a loser. Weak. Un-athletic. Fat. I start to re-evaluate myself: maybe I shouldn’t be running barefoot. Maybe the people who tell me barefoot running is stupid are all right. Maybe having sore knees and sprained ankles in regular running shoes is preferable to this. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to run fast. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to run long.
Maybe I shouldn’t be running at all.
But how can that be? Running is one of the greater forms of happiness in my life. It just seems so unfair that it should be taken away from me. I trained all winter for the chance to meet so many new goals this summer. I am frustrated at this loss of time.
I realize this setback of mine is a satisfying opportunity for naysayers to dust off their I-told-you-so soapboxes. I’m tired of trying to explain that it’s not the shoes. The fact is that the shoes have given me so much, so much more freedom, so much more distance. The shoes have rekindled my love for the sport. But I squandered what the shoes gave me by demanding more than they could give me…more than my feet could deliver. It was a stupid move and I will pay for it with many I-told-you-so‘s.
I’m not sure where to go from here. Maybe next time my physical therapist tells me not to run I won’t. Maybe next week I’ll break down and start using the dreaded stationary bike at the gym so that I don’t completely undo all my endurance while I’m waiting this out. But either way, until I’m running again I don’t think I’ll be smiling very big.