How Pain Made Me Decide to Keep Running

My last race was the 2011 Richmond Half Marathon. During the last few weeks of training for that race I developed a severe pain in my right heel. At first I thought it was an achilles tendon injury so I took a couple of weeks off after the race before starting the training for my next planned race, the Shamrock Half in VA Beach. But when I got back into training, the pain had not gone away. After several weeks of disappointing runs, I limped back to the stadium after finishing only 4 miles of a 7 mile run, and quit.

My runner girl friends were kind about it, and expressed their sadness and concern that I was unable to train for the race. One of them was particularly nice, taking the time to go to the expo and pick up my packet. We discussed her race over coffee a week or so later, and I went home to kick myself over my unused race bib.

I thought I had stopped feeling sorry for myself a long time ago now. A five mile run with some friends over the spring drove home two things. First, I had lost a lot of conditioning, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Second, that the pain was not going away.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the pain in my foot is not going to get better, but it probably isn’t going to get worse either. I can either get back on the road and regain my fitness, or I can continue to find excuses to sit here and gain another 15 pounds (the amount I’ve gained since March).

Last night, a friend suggested I try the winter training program again. I think that is too ambitious for me at this point. However, I really would like to get back on the road. This winter, I will try to work my way back up to 3 and 5 mile maintenance runs. I’m not going to pressure myself to race. I’m not going to do timed runs, or intervals, or speed training. I’m just going to run for fitness and fun. Pressuring myself to get into race readiness is only going to take me back down the path of disappointment. But, I’m determined that I’m not going to let chronic pain make me quit doing something that I love.

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