Crash and Burn

Today’s run was a big crash and burn. Worst I’ve had in a while. I was planning for 5 miles — a decent enough long run given where my running has been lately, especially given that we were headed to the Georgia Aquarium today, where we were sure to get lots of walking in.

To fend off the monotony, I uncapped one of the routes I haven’t used in a while, heading away from the mall where I usually run out toward a side road that goes behind one of the local shopping centers. A really peaceful route actually, and one that’s lovely in the mist that settled in early this morning. And I felt the first twinges in my heel at about two miles.

By the time I hit the farthest point, my heel was screaming with every step. So I was faced with the injured runner’s quandary: suck it up and power through the injury, possibly doing further injury in the process, or take the walk of shame and walk it home. Unfortunately, at a distance of over two miles from home, walking wasn’t a particularly good look. I split the difference, running a quarter mile then walking a hundred yards or so. I don’t think I made the injury any worse. Hours later, a bunch of walking and a healthy dose of ice behind me, and it’s feeling okay. Better than this morning. Okay enough to make me think this morning could have been a fluke: just a tweak and not a major setback.

Still, this is frustrating as hell. I’ve had heel issues for over a year now — maybe more like two — and while I’d had a recent flareup, it’s been better over the past couple of weeks, better enough that I thought I had the injury on the ropes again. And then, just a total breakdown.

The smart play is to cool it on the running for a while, but if you’ve read the blog for any length of time, you might know how hard that would be for me. Partially I fear the loss of momentum, though that’s less an issue for me now than it was a few years ago… running is in my blood these days, it ain’t gonna leave me if I break for a week or three. More of an issue is that running is my mind-altering drug of choice. My day starts from the run. It’s how I deal with stress, it’s how I clear my head and kick around writing ideas and … yeah. It’s an addiction of the worst sort: I need it to feel normal.

My wife is rolling her eyes as she reads this, but I’m probably going to suit up for a run again on Tuesday and see how it feels. If my heel is still jolting me like an exposed nerve, then — then — it’ll be time to hang up my shoes for a bit.

But not before.

For better or worse, I’m stubborn about my runs, and I can accept a little physical discomfort in favor of the mental benefits.

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