That twinge on the bottom of my foot sure didn’t feel good. One minute I’m running fine and the next minute I was praying “I hope I’m fine.” That was August 2013 when, after running about 1,200 miles in a year and a half, my left foot gave out, right between the heal and the arch.
Problem was that I didn’t know what it was then and quite frankly, I didn’t want to know. I had the Baltimore Marathon coming up in mid-October and had already completed two-thirds of my training. If I could endure the pain and run through it, then I’d rest afterward. No doctor’s diagnosis was going to stop me now if I could help it.
So that’s what I did. I taped my foot during training, kept running and completed the marathon in a personal best time.
Four months later I’m still paying for it.
Six weeks after the marathon, my foot’s not healed. Some X-rays and a podiatrist examination later, I’m hit with the diagnosis – plantar fasciitis. The remedy – soaking in heat, ice applications, physical therapy exercises, and no running until it’s healed. Oh…and these words from the doctor stung, “The longer these injuries are ignored, the longer they take to heal.”
So let’s see…ignored it for three and half months…I’m now two and a half months into rehab…Ugh.
I haven’t run since October and it’s eating at me. But what can I do now? It’s counterproductive to gripe and feel down about my situation. I can only diligently complete the strengthening exercises each day and rest.
I can also learn some valuable lessons like…
1. Rationalization creates poor decisions
Given the stakes (completion of the marathon), I should have been at the podiatrist a week after this happened. But what I did is so human nature. I tried to explain or justify an action (continuing to run) based on a contrived logical (to me) reason (it’s not that bad and I’m afraid the doctor will tell me to stop running).
Had I sought help promptly, the treatment would have started much sooner. Most likely, I would have been able to complete the marathon anyway and the recovery time would have been quicker.
My “what-I-don’t-know-won’t-hurt-me” philosophy will end up costing me at least four months of running.
2. Bad situations don’t improve in and of themselves
Six weeks passed by post-marathon with nothing being done to aid the healing. The pain simply lingered – some days being bad, other days being really bad. I just kept telling myself, “Tomorrow it will get better, tomorrow it will get better, tomorrow…”
Tomorrow only came when I admitted my inability to care for myself and sought help. Yes, it was humbling, even a little embarrassing to tell the doctor I had ignored it for so long. He was gracious. I felt stupid.
The bad situation is improving, now that I’m following his guidance. I’m about 85% healthy and feeling improvement every day. With luck I’ll be running by mid-March.
That would never have been possible though if I’d let the bad situation heal itself.
3. Holes take time to climb out of
In a perfect world, the one cortisone shot I received would have healed the damage to my tendon. Obviously it didn’t, so I’ve been forced to develop a whole lot of the one virtue so difficult to cultivate – patience.
The bad situation doesn’t improve itself without help and it doesn’t change overnight. It takes time to work our way out of the doom and gloom to feel the sun shining on our face again. When we are in “that moment” we don’t want to hear “Be patient.” We want a quick fix now and a Matrix blue pill to make all our troubles go away.
It doesn’t work that way. When you’ve dug a hole, the best thing is to begin patiently climbing.
What will you do?
Your situation may be quite extraordinary, much more devastating in its impact than my strain of a simple foot tendon. I hope my experience compels you to take action and seek help for whatever ails you. No amount of rationalization, ignorance, pride or denial will make “that thing” go away.
Let go of your stubbornness, find help and let the healing begin.
What holds you back from seeking help? Why is it so easy to rationalize our actions? Has your stubbornness put you in a difficult situation before? Have you ever turned stubbornness into a positive?
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