Giving in to Pain

Yesterday’s eight mile run.  Yeah.  Well.  The first three miles were easy—the feel of the cold sea air on my cheeks, the rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement, my breath soft and easy at my 8:30 m/m pace—and even on a day with much weighing on my mind, the pleasure of the run incomparable to anything else. That pleasure reached deep into me,  filling the empty space carved by the heavy sorrows of this world, my world on this day. My heel was not too bad; a little twinge here and there., but doable.

As I ran the loop of Phillip’s Ave., fat snowflakes swirled in the air around me and the desire to run to Halibut Point took me not left at the end of the road, but right.  As I entered the park, enjoying the feel of soft earth beneath my sneakers, I felt a stabbing pain in the bottom of my right foot.  I slowed a bit, trying to adjust my pace and gait to run more on my toes.  I continued through the park, taking time to look out on the quarry on this cold morning, then farther out to the sea.  The water chopped up and down; little white caps crested.  The pale sky against the rich blue ocean, the swirling snow, the solitude of the place made me forget everything as I ran along the path.

I returned to the street, noticing how, now that I was about five miles in, my heel was hurting more and more.  I headed home, trying not to think about the pain.  My Achilles tendon grew tighter and tighter as I favored the right foot.  My left hip began to ache.  I kept going.  I sensed this was going to be the worst so far, but I pushed, taking a brief walk break, then, as I turned onto Broadway, I began to sprint.  The heat of the pain shot up my leg.  I pumped my arms to try and carry some of my weight forward and kept my pace to the end of the road.  As I turned right toward home, I slowed to an easy trot, fighting back tears.  I forced myself to face the truth:  I need to take a break from running to let my foot heal.

I spent the rest of the day limping, barely able to put weight on my foot.  Sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of my heel took my breath away.  My heel hurt even when I sat down.  I mourned running, in between the business of the day, dividing my thoughts between my family, my job, and this exquisite  pain.

I limped in to physical therapy this morning.  My physical therapist, Jodi, took one look at me and her happy smile shifted to a look of concern.

“What happened?  What did you do?”

“I decided to try a longer run yesterday.  It’s pretty bad today.”

She shook her head and asked about my weekend running.  I told her about the just-okay run on Saturday, six and a half miles, then the wonderful run of the same length with Sue on Sunday.  How could it be so different from one day to the next?

“I’ll see what I can do.  You look terrible!”

And so I sat in misery as she dug her thumbs and fingers into the soft flesh of my arch, into the crunchy tissue of my heel.  I held back on any wincing, stoically tolerating the deep tissue massage.

“So, what do you think you should do?”

I knew what she was up to.  I knew what answer she sought.

“I think I’ll not run for a week.  A whole week.  And no plyometrics, either.  Just boxing, kickboxing, extra strength and core work.  That’s it.”

“Do you think you can go a whole week?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think.  Obviously, I need to give my foot a rest.  So yeah.  I can take a week off.”

“Good!  Good!  That’s great.  It should help a lot.”

She flexed my toes way, way back, then turned my ankle left, right, then up, flexed it so far that my toes almost touched my shin.  Then it was time for electrical stimulation therapy.  She taped the electrodes to my calf and heel, hooked up the battery, turned it on, and walked away.  A thousand bees buzzed against my calf; a cold hand gripped the bottom of my heel.  I grimaced and read my book as I waited for the timer to signal the end.  I thought about buying a boxing bag for my living room.  I thought about the elliptical machine at the gym, and the stationary bike at home.  I poked my tongue out at no one in particular.

Jodi came back when the timer beeped and unhooked me.  She taped my foot, wrapping the arch tightly with flexible tape, then used firm white tape along the sides of my foot.

“That should help you today, at least.  Can you walk and bear weight on the heel?”

I could indeed.  I had to restrain myself from hugging her.  The wrap felt so tight and good!  It barely felt like my heel was touching the ground at all.  I stuffed the foot into my sock and then into my sneaker.   I swore to keep my promise and walked out.

One week.  Doable.

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4 Comments on “Giving in to Pain”

  1. alex Says:

    I’ve been telling you for months to take it easy and heal up. Glad to hear the massage helped tho!


    • Thanks, Alex. Yeah, you are right. I’m just stubborn (and addicted!). Have to remove this nice wrap and am afraid for how my foot is going to feel later today…


  2. Elizabeth, I am so sorry you have been having this trouble with your heel. A week off from running sounds like a good idea. I love reading about your running routes; it is almost like being there with you!


    • Hi Elizabeth,
      Thanks for reading, and for your kind words! It’s going to be a tough week, but I am sure I will get through it. Cross-training will just have to do for now. I am glad you like reading about my running routes. I like to try and create the picture of where I am, and the feelings that come with being fortunate enough to get to run in such a beautiful place. Love to you!


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