Once upon a time, running and I had an easy relationship. I woke up in the morning, threw on a pair of cotton sweatpants, laced up my $20 Champion shoes from Payless ShoeSource and hit the road. Sometimes I could even run for two whole miles! We were so happy together. I wanted to run more and more, I never wanted to stop running!
Eventually, inevitably I suppose, we had our first big fight: I sprained my ankle at mile 4 of a half-marathon. I spent two weeks on crutches and feared that I would never run again. I fretted constantly. We’d only been together a few months, what if our relationship was so tenuous that it could be taken away, just like – snap! – that? Venturing back into the street after our separation, I was flooded with relief. Running still loved me. We were meant to be together.
We kept spending more and more time together. I bought wicking shirts, cute skirts and fancy, cushioned shoes. I studied up on training plans and fueling strategies. I ran a marathon. I bought books about running and more shoes. I wanted to be the very best runner I could be, so I did everything I could to bring running even closer to me.
That first fight, though, was followed by others – IT pain, tendonitis, sciatica and stress fractures. My trust in running wasn’t broken, but I was starting to feel a niggling doubt in the back of my mind that hadn’t been there before. Every injury meant more time away from running and more fear that maybe we weren’t meant to be together after all. Slowly, I morphed from the exciting, carefree girl who was always ready to run into a woman desperately clinging to an increasingly troublesome relationship.
I felt the problem must be with me, so I made changes. I ran more. I ran less. I cross-trained more. I ran slower. I ran faster. I bought more shoes. I stopped wearing shoes. None of these changes brought any real relief, and I’ve actually begun to wonder if they’ve made things worse.
My current yearlong foray into barefoot running has brought just as many injuries as all those heel-striking years. At first, my midfoot strike was too exaggerated and I kept having to reduce mileage because of top of the foot pain. Eventually, I gave myself a nice little metatarsal stress fracture and it was back to the drawing board. It’s safe to say that natural running didn’t come *ahem* naturally to me.
Determined to make barefooting work, I built my mileage slowly (again) and concentrated on my form (even more than before). Like a bad penny that keeps turning up, though, there was a run-stopping pain as soon as I got to double digits, this time tendonitis on the outside of my ankle near the heel. An odd spot, for sure, but a clear indication that I am still doing something wrong. *sigh*
What’s a girl in love supposed to do? I’ve had that ring on my finger for six years now and I want it all – marriage, kids, and a house with a white picket fence! What I really, really, really want is to go back to those giddy early days, when running and I were destined for happily ever after. But I think maybe running just wants to be friends.
What’s your relationship with running?