Looking back, this is probably the easiest stage to identify: You are shocked, overwhelmed, and confused about everything. Naturally, you deny the stabbing heel pain you feel every. Single. Morning.
You know, if you run a few more miles, it’ll probably start to feel better. Yes, of course! Running is the solution.
Oh, but first you have to get out of bed. Hmmm, that’s going to be hard because putting weight on your foot doesn’t feel so great. But hey, who likes to stand up in the morning? Not you. No way! You prefer to crawl … into the bathroom so that you can hoist yourself onto the counter and soak your foot in hot water before you bear any weight. Why doesn’t everyone start their morning this way? After all, foot soak time is ideal for scrolling through Instagram.
30 minutes and three ibuprofens later, you’re out for your morning run, perpetuating your injury.
You’re about to congratulate yourself on completing a new morning loop—you went eight miles instead of six—when your heel suddenly hurts so bad you can’t walk. Anger settles in. You channel it straight toward your partner. After all, he/she is the one that encouraged you to sign up for the half marathon.
You look at your wrist for the time and then change the screen on your GARMIN to see your steps for the day. A moment of glee: you’re at 115 percent of your daily requirement!
OK, so maybe your foot is throbbing a little, but, hey, that’s OK because 115 percent is no joke. You’re incredible! It’s at this point that you start to think your heel pain is totally tolerable.
You could also cut your mileage a smidge and start going to yoga. Or you could use your gym pass to swim laps a couple of evenings per week. Who knew this foot pain could lead to getting into even better shape? And then you have a thought: maybe I should just start training for a triathlon! Because, of course, if your foot hurts while running, adding in biking and swimming is the perfect way to find balance.
Before you know it, you’ve ordered triathlon training books along with strange East Asian powders and mystery pain creams the internet promises will heal you.
You get up to make breakfast. It’s at this moment that you decide to take the next day off.
It’s been 48 hours, and you’re flat out of endorphins; what started as a one-day recovery period turned into two. Your daily-required steps have dropped by half, and you aren’t even hitting 50 percent of 50 percent. This is getting real. Fast.
You’re sitting on the bathroom counter with your foot submerged, scrolling through Instagram like you do every morning. Today it’s different. You’ve never seen so many spectacular running pictures! This is serious FOMO. You take more ibuprofen.
Screw the gym pool—it’s cold in there. Screw yoga—you have no patience for chanting and mindfulness talk. Nope. You need coffee and your kitchen. You take to baking; chocolate is proven to enhance mood. You wonder how many different types of chocolate cake you can make and eat. You approach baking like your Saturday morning long run. This is a very, very bad idea.
Your feeble attempts at eating your way to happiness end with stomach upset and a sugar crash. You’re full, depressed, tired, and still can’t run. This is when, in a moment of desperation, you text a friend. She gives you the name of her favorite PT in town.
You’ll call, you thumb back to her. But not yet. Maybe you’ll feel better tomorrow. So, you watch five hours of Game of Thrones to better your mood; it doesn’t work. But you haven’t run in nearly 72 hours, and your heel is maybe feeling slightly better, which leads you straight back to denial.
You take more ibuprofen. Preventative measures.
You lace up for another run. You make it 5.35 miles—you know this because you obsessively checked your GARMIN the whole time. You finish and struggle to take another step. As you peel off your clothes to shower, you slink into depression.
That’s it. You call and make an appointment with the PT. You go. Then you go to the yoga class you’ve been putting off for months. Then, all blissed out from Downward Dogs, you purchase a juicer, a bunch of kale, a giant bag of beets, and a bottle of cordyceps mushrooms. Then you pick up some practical supplies from your local running store.
You may not be able to run yet, but at least you have an action plan. You’re sleeping in the Strassburg Sock, massaging your foot, and incorporating stretching and strength training into your recovery plan … at least on the days (I mean, day) that you remember. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, you’re drinking beet juice and taking cordyceps so that when you’re able to start training again, you’ll have increased cardiovascular capacity and endurance … according to your latest internet research.