Thursday, August 12, 2010


This is going to be difficult to type (no, not because of carpal tunnel syndrome). I've been fighting both a heel injury AND how to deal with it for quite awhile now. Since it first appeared on May 31st, I've gone through periods when the heel pain has been pretty intense, and periods when it seemed like the injury was a thing of the past. After no running for the first 3 weeks of June, along with four weeks of physical therapy, I felt like I was ready to ease back into running, which I did. I was part of a Ragnar team, and felt obligated to not only run it, but to try to be somewhat prepared for it. I had days where I felt a bit of heel pain, but nothing I considered a "shut it down" kind of pain. I ran a 5k. The heel felt fine. I ran Ragnar. The heel felt fine...until my third and final leg, which was quite hilly. That's when the heel spoke to me (and it wasn't using its Sunday School words). Shortly after that, I ran 2 hours on very hilly trails (in preparation for my first 50k on Oct. 2nd). That caused INTENSE pain in my heel. I keep saying "heel", but the pain has since grown. I now feel it in my ankle (still mostly on the inside, right above the ankle bone), as well as under my foot, at the back of my arch. It's more of a "rear right foot" issue now.

After the hilly trail run, I backed off for a few days, then ran a flat half marathon. Yes, some pain, but not horrible. I thought, "maybe I can keep training if I'm running on relatively flat ground". Two days after the half, I ran a very slow (and flat) 12 miles. Not much pain. The next day (two days ago), I repeated this very same run. The pain during the last mile was pretty severe. As usual, you can question my line of thinking, but I wanted to do back-to-back long runs to see if my foot might be able to handle the training necessary for my 50k (since it's only 7 weeks away), as well as the 50k itself. The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding "NO". Even staying off the hills, it's just not going to happen.

I'll say it here and now - Chris (fellow running blogger, and fellow heel injury sufferer), you were right. I wasn't ready. I had to find out for myself, though.

Due to my current financial situation, I'm unable to get an MRI. I don't know if there's a fracture involved or not, but I'm going to treat it as if it might be.

Which brings me to my plan of action. No running...PERIOD...for at least two months. Yes, that means I'll be volunteering at Baker Lake rather than running it. In place of running, I'll be cycling - mostly outdoors, hopefully - and swimming. I have a prepaid swim pass I bought about three years ago and have yet to use. I'm not sure if they allow aqua jogging. If not, I'll swim laps. I'll also work on strength exercises. I'll basically train like a triathlete, minus the run leg.

I considered NOT posting this, so I could back out of my decision a couple of weeks down the road to test my heel again. I chose to go through with this, though, for accountability purposes. I want to be running 20, 30 or more years from now. Being the "running wounded" isn't the way to accomplish that.

Thanks for your kind comments & words of advice during this process. I'll continue posting here. This will give me an opportunity to be a more well-rounded person (hopefully not around the midsection).


  1. As I mentioned, I totally applaud your decision and I will follow up to make sure you stick to it! There seems to be too many heel injuries going around these days. It’s very difficult to assess when one day it hurts, the next is zero pain. I am still trying to figure it out myself. This is sort of a test week for me. If I don’t have any improvement, it will result in an immediate 6-week layoff. (2 week of NOTHING, 4 weeks of strength, form and cross training).
    Luckily, my wife forgot when my Fall marathon was and scheduled our 10 year anniversary trip during it. At first I was bummed but I realized what a favor she did. I was putting all of this pressure on myself training for a race I had no chance to run like I wanted. Without a looming race, a break is easier to take.
    If it is any consolation, last year I had to take 10 weeks off due to injury during July, Aug and Sept. Yet, I came back to run a marathon PR and some of the fastest times I’ve run in a dozen years.

    As far as the being well rounded- the first thing you have to address is the diet. Running isn’t burning the fuel anymore.

    p.s. Was that Runner roundtable cursed?

  2. Sorry to hear that Colin, but fully understandable and wise. Nagging injuries require special attention, and it's just not worth the long-term risk for a short-term (debatable) gain. Hope you find some solace in taking things out in the pool and gym, and we'll look forward to a stronger return in a few months.

    I like making such commitments like this public too - helps enforce the discipline that runs counter to our nature. Well done.

  3. Colin, in the big picture, this is a bump in the road. Matt took 10 weeks off last year, I think Adam took at least 8 weeks off last year, I am taking 8 weeks off now. It's just part of being a runner. You just need to heal and running doesn't support that. Do you want me to mail you my aqua jogging belt in a few weeks? I'm serious.

    In the meantime, please continue posting here. Your posts are always top-notch whether you are actually running on land or not. Please.

  4. Colin - Sorry to read that you'll be taking an injury-induced break from running, but I too think you're making the right decision. Getting a conformational X-Ray or MRI is an unnecessary luxury; pain is pain, so you're absolutely right to assume that you do have a fracture. Agreed with Chris that pool-running (aka aqua jogging) is the best non-load bearing activity for you to maintain your running shape while recovering. As with Matt's situation, when I'd developed a stress fracture - and of necessity was similarly forced to pool-run until I recovered, I came away from the injury in excellent shape. Please see my blog write-up at the time if it helps:


  5. So sorry to hear that you will be needing some time off from running. As Chris said, this is a blip on the radar in your overall running "career." I had to take 6 week off when I broke my rib last year. I took the time to recover and when I cleared to run I eased back into it and eventually became a stronger runner.

    Don't spend too much time in the past and asking too many "what ifs." Focus on getting better and you'll comeback a stronger and smarter runner.

  6. Keep the posts coming ... need to work on your mind and desire now. Don't look at it as a waste of time or something bad.

  7. A wise, albeit difficult decision. You'll come back not only healthier, but also hungrier. Very interested to follow your everything-but-running training routine. Aquajogging seems like a great alternative.

  8. Thats a tough decision but in long run probably the best choice.

  9. That is tough but the best to do. 2 months for 20 to 30 years of running to come is nothing. You are planning to stay active so the two moths will be over before you know it. It is the right thing to do. Good luck!

  10. That is a tough pill to swollow. TOUGH.

    But, you know what I"ve found makes it easier? 2 things: donuts - vodka.

    Bring on the well rounded posts!