This is the next stage in my running career, it’s not a happy ending but that’s the way life is at times and I wouldn’t change anything if I had the chance. Well, maybe I might tweak things just ever so slightly. The title suggests it turned out to be a game of two halves. I started out most definitely still running for relief from depression and then running for relief from plantar fasciitis.
If you want to catch up on the first part just click here or select Running For Depression and Finding Relief…..from the menu.
So if you’ve familiarised yourself with the story so far you’ll remember that I said there would be a part two, loads more to say and it was all good…Ummmh. Might have fibbed just a little bit…I mean it is all good for the relief from depression and general fitness. Might as well start there and move on to the not so good stuff later on, not that much later though.
I had continued to run. It was now a part of my weekly schedule, in fact, if I’m honest, it was becoming a bit of an obsession but I was actually loving it. I loved the endorphins and how they made me feel, the way they lasted for hours after a really good run.
During this time my wife was also running but she was an ‘outdoor’ runner and really didn’t get on with the running machine. It was a bit like those who use PC’s and those who prefer Macs. ‘Never the Twain shall meet’. How it began, I really can’t remember but at some point we joined forces and went on an outdoor run together. I loved the regimented machine running style, with the music blasting but running outdoors was a different experience altogether and I liked it more than I was expecting to.
Outdoors here I come
We started doing the school run in the mornings, leaving the car nearby and running a circuit out and back. It ranged from about three to five kilometres and we did this two or three times a week. I was hooked all over again. We upped our game and went further as time went on. There is a racecourse near where we lived, so we would run round the perimeter which was approximately two miles in total. Before you knew it we’d be pushing for twice round and eventually we did the whole six miles which is near enough 10k.
I attacked this new way of running. My wife joined me as and when but I was relentless and would go out on my own more often than not.
This culminated for me when I signed up for a local 10k race held every year. I entered competed and didn’t come last, so it was a win…
When I look back now, it is hard to believe how far I progressed. I was never going to be anything more than a casual runner. That became apparent when I was overtaken by someone on the 10k run who finished a full lap ahead of me..none of that mattered to me and it shouldn’t matter to you. You set your own goals and just run.
The First Set Back
So I’m going to show you how daft I was so you don’t have to be. I did say in one of the other posts that there is always the possibility of sustaining injuries. Some of the lucky ones will run forever and never get more than a blister..others, not quite, me included.
One beautiful morning we were running after the school run. There was an alley next to the school that ultimately led down to a canal. We would run about two and a half kilometres along the towpath, turn round and come back. Nice and easy. On the return leg I started to get some pain in my left foot, underneath. First mistake I made was to shrug it off. I just powered through, as they say. By the time we were home the discomfort had eased off and I forgot about it. Two days later and we were back at it, this time the return journey was a bag full of pain. Home again, bath, a bit of limping.
Woke up the next morning and went to get out of bed, feet on the floor, tried to stand and thought someone had hidden a thousand drawing pins directly under my foot. I’ve felt severe pain but this was ridiculous.
I struggled through for a few days, definitely no running, before going to see the doctor. After describing how the pain had started during the run he asked me, unprompted, whether the pain was worse first thing in the morning. I was a bit taken aback. How could he possibly know that. “Sounds like you have Plantar Fasciitis” He did try and explain but it was a bit over my head. Short version was to tell me my running days were over for a while. Plantar deserves a whole book on its own. What it is, who gets it, how to avoid it, pain relief and so on. to say a bit devastated ? Time and lack of intensive use were the recommendations along with some over the counter pain relief. Not a happy bunny.
Plantar Fasciitis deserves a whole book on its own. What it is, who gets it, how to avoid it, pain relief and so on. Needless to say I was a bit devastated ? Time and lack of intensive use were the recommendations along with some over the counter pain relief. Not a happy bunny.
The prognosis was not good from any one I spoke to. Once you have it, that’s you pretty much done as far as running goes. Not what I wanted to hear.
I wasn’t prepared to give up. Yes, I was going to have to lay off for a while, which I did. I also spent much of the time walking around with nothing on my feet, having an enclosed shoe or trainer was acutely painful. I did alot of reading up on the condition but when I was looking it was similar to having migraines. Lots of different advice that might or might not work with no real 100% cure. There was surgery but no one gave any positives as to the result of that. So much fun.
Barefoot running and no pain.
Are you mad ? Well, put it this way, you ask anyone who runs regularly and then has to stop, not cut down, just stop. Ask them if they’re going mad. This is where my research led me. Barefoot running. Now, I’m not saying you should do this in the early stages of Plantar Fasciitis, that would be foolish and undeniably painful if not impossible to do.
I was having good days and bad days. At some point I decided that as I was already in pain, then a little extra wasn’t going to make a fat lot of difference, especially if the up side was me being able to run again.
So I started back on the running machine, slowly. Clever. No stones or sharp objects, nice flat, even surface. A good place to start.
The barefoot running had an amazing effect. I built up my distances over a number of weeks, not pushing to hard. Initially it was hard, there was some discomfort but it was only minor and normally only at the start. My feet were ‘stiff’ so needed a bit of warming up.
Then an incredulous thing happened after one of my first longer runs. I was pain free. Not just for an hour or two after but for a couple of days. I could run on a Monday and have no pain until Wednesday. I had found my own personal ‘painkiller’. It was free and I could take as much as I wanted or could handle.
I don’t know if you would have the same reaction, this was just what happened to me and remember, at the start of each run, there was enough discomfort to make me have second thoughts. However, the promise of a few days with no pain relief was a good enough incentive.
I even bought some ‘special’ running shoes that were designed for ‘barefoot runners’. Vibram Fivefingers. They were ideal and I came across them completely by accident when I was researching this unusual pastime. They’re not cheap but if you’re serious then it’s worth it for the protection.
A Snap And A Pop.
All good things come to an end. Truer words never spoken. I was just surprised at how abruptly this particular end came. Unfortunately, it is in my nature to keep pushing the boundaries. This is not an egotistical thing, it’s just the way I’m wired. If you’ve read other posts you’ll see it’s fairly consistent.
The outdoors were beckoning me and I could not resist any longer. Armed with my newly acquired footwear I set about transferring my runs back to the fresh air and interesting views. It was like going home after a long period away.
I went back to the racecourse, as it was a tried and tested route, with a tarmac path most of the way round. I’m not sure how many outings I had trying out my ‘new’ feet before it all went severely pear-shaped.
I was coming to the end of a circuit, nothing major, just shy of two miles. I could see the car park coming round the final bend so I thought I would ‘ramp up’ the last few hundred metres. Sprint underway and then a seering pain through my foot and a loud ‘pop’ in my head. Apart from the excruciating pain it was almost surreal. I felt the snap in my foot but heard it in my head.
Obviously I stopped and did what we all would have done, tried to walk. Nope,that wasn’t happening. I couldn’t put any weight on it. I had to hop the remaining fifty metres to the car. Somehow, I managed to drive the couple of miles home and then went straight up to the hospital and A and E.
They didn’t give me a full on diagnosis, no bones broken, the rest they couldn’t tell, just surmise. Best bet was one snapped ligament. Now, it was fair to say, my running days were over for the foreseeable future.
Ligaments can take a couple of months to heal, longer than bones sometimes. Add that to an already disagreeable bout of Plantar Fasciitus and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t up for a rematch.
I had run my course, so to speak. Running had given me a huge amount of pleasure and something which was priceless, relief from depression. We find ‘crutches’ in our lives, a person, an interest, a place. They help hold us up at our times of need but they are only ever temporary and at some point we no longer need them and they are discarded. Running was my crutch for well over a year and I was going to miss it but it had served me well.
As a footnote it is worth bearing in mind that the ‘barefoot’ running was brilliant and did give me a welcome relief for long periods of time. The two injuries I sustained were more to do with me than the running or the footwear I chose. I should have rested more after the Plantar Fasciitis started. I should have run ‘barefoot’ on softer ground. I learnt that little gem after a visit to a podiatrist. He almost spat the words ‘running barefoot on tarmac or concrete isn’t the best idea’ Maybe if I had looked a little deeper into it then the end wouldn’t have come quite so suddenly.
Still, now you know. Run and enjoy it but listen to your body and make sure you do it properly. Warm up, warm down, wear the correct footwear and run on the most suitable surfaces.