Three years ago today, November 16, I had major surgery on my right foot. I had been in a car accident the previous year, and it took that long to figure out what was really going on with my injuries. The arch in my foot had collapsed, so my foot pronated inward and was extremely painful. The original hypothesis, however, was the back injury I endured from the accident was causing the foot to hurt. In fact, it was the foot injury that wasn’t allowing my back to heal.
So 3 years ago I had reconstructive surgery to rebuild the arch of my foot. It involved taking a bone graft from the outside of my foot and implanting it on the interior side so it would hold up the tendon to remake the arch. Putting it mildly, it was an extremely painful recovery.
I was ordered to stay on crutches for 3 months in a non-weight bearing cast. I couldn’t take care of myself at all since my hands were always occupied with my crutches. My parents had to wait on me constantly and help me with simple tasks like eating, bathing and getting around. It was awful and humiliating to be so helpless. Not to mention the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced.
My podiatrist had promised that my pain would go away within 3 – 6 months of surgery. A year later, I was still experiencing daily pain, often very severe. I’ll never forget that the day of our last appointment he told me that the pain was in my head and he said I should have been better by then. He walked out of the room while I was crying. I knew the pain wasn’t in my head. I knew that all bodies heal differently and he had a God complex that had been seriously bruised by my taking too long to heal. He also told me that day I would never run again.
On that day I weighed 205 lbs, and I was sad and depressed due to all the pain I was in and the state my life was in with my weight and having been so helpless for so long. I decided to change my life.
I began exercising and keeping my food journal. I worked out in spite of the pain, though I didn’t run. I couldn’t. I did the elliptical, stair stepper, stair master and the bike. I began lifting weights.
It took nearly 18 months for the pain to finally stop. I remember it was in January when I woke up and my foot actually didn’t hurt. I was shocked. I was able to work out harder. I would still get days with pain, but it wasn’t daily anymore and I was thankful.
After 14 months, I had lost 65 pounds. I was in great shape, but I was still not a runner. He had said I never would be, but I still believed that one day I would just because I wanted it so badly. Frankly the only reason I wanted it so badly was because the doctor said I never would. I kept working out and training with my coach. He started making my workout programs really heavy on lower body workouts. We did tons of strength training for my legs and feet using different types of squats and lunges. It felt like medieval torture, but my legs were getting very strong.
I kept trying the treadmill and even walking on it was still painful. More time went by and I went on the treadmill again. There was no pain. So I tried to jog. I did it and it didn’t hurt. So I kept going. I ran a full mile in 15 minutes. Tragically slow, but I did it without pain. It took nearly 3 years from my surgery to be able to run without pain, but I did it.
The next day I decided to run again to see if it had been a fluke. It wasn’t. My strength training had worked, and my doctor was being proven wrong. I was going to become a runner.
That was 15 weeks ago that I started running. Since then I’ve completed 2 official 5K races and run a total of 101.9 miles. This past Sunday, I broke my previous PR for the 5K at the YMCA on the treadmill. My previous PR was 39:27 from the Halloween 5K race I ran. On Sunday, I finished in 35:37. And I start marathon training in January.
First order of business after completing my marathon race: eating a fabulous meal because I’ve earned it. Second order of business: Sending a photo of me with my completion medal to my podiatrist with a quick note reminding him he said I’d never run again.
I am including a poster I made using one of my favorite motivational running quotes. I look at it when I get discouraged with my running or lack of progress.