What’s Your Running Mantra?

What is my running mantra? How about “Pain. Pain. Go away.  Come back another day?”  Well, for the past two months, I had none.  I only had a prayer on my lips for my right heel to heal speedily and well.

My beautiful podiatrist, Dr. Frederick Chussid, cleared me to run last Friday, but I was scarred and lacked the faith that I could run even a block without pain.  After agonizingly wrestling with my spirit through the weekend, I picked up the courage to lace up my shoes, warm up, stretch, and headed out the door for a 5k (3.1 miles) run this past Monday.

I ran a block.  No pain.   I ran another block.  Hmm, no pain there.  My mind was steadily focused on assessing for pain in my right heel.  I ran up to the fourth bock.  No pain.  Before I finished the fourth block, I realized that I was focused on the thought of pain and not enjoying my run.  I was tense and was starting to feel an acrid sensation in my stomach, like gastric juice gone bad. I had breakfast three hours before the run, but it felt like I was running on a full stomach.

Even the neighbor's dog looked worried for me.

Soon after, I noticed my breathing was much faster than usual.  I felt my pulse beating in my throat.  Literally.  My mind then started going south.  I am talking about DEEP SOUTH here!  But then I threw breaks on this spiraling process and said to myself, “Nah, I am not going to pass out and die here,” and recognized I was running on negative mental fuel coated in anxiety.  I was so scarred of the possibility of feeling pain that I was making myself sick!

It’s been two months but it felt like a decade since I last ran.  That Calcaneal (heel) spur was plucking my nerves like a dancing mosquito singing in the ear, in a pitch dark room.  There was a time that my Achilles tendon was so inflamed and raw that I worried I’d be banished to the crutches. It was painful during and after my runs, and especially in the early mornings at getting up and out of the bed.  I was walking like I was crippled for a good Southern minute.  It took a while for me to visit a doctor, but I am glad I did.  I am also thankful that the solution was simple:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression (I was given a compression stocking to wear during the day)
  • Elevation of heel (orthotic shoe insert) or wear shoes with slight heel elevation (no flats or flip flops allowed)
  • Gentle stretching exercises of heel in the mornings and evenings
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • A good dose of patience and perseverance
  • Oh, and a good cheap foot splint I bought at Publix helped minimize the pain in the morning.

So, I’ve been looking forward to this moment like a kid waiting for Santa Clause and his generous party of elves.  I have to give props to my podiatrist, who is also a runner.  He wasn’t kidding when he beamed a big smile at me when I asked if he knew magic, and confidently answered “Yes!”  I am grateful he wasn’t hurried to get me out of his office and took the time to teach me a few things on how to avoid aggravating the spur, the heel, and the Achilles attached to it.

I learned I should really stop cheating and really seriously warm up and stretch before and definitely after a run.  No exceptions!  Not even if you come home and find granny chocking on her dentures (Okay, that was a joke.  I think).  Also, I will go back to what shoe has worked for me over the years, my Nike Pegasus, and will run on natural surface as much as possible and avoid pavements.

Getting back to my Monday run, I felt fine after I put breaks on all that negative mental self-assessment and chatter I was entertaining at the beginning and focused on how wonderful it felt to be out doing my thing again. Luckily I did my best to exercise while I was down and out that I wasn’t so badly deconditioned cardovascularly.  I am also thankful for the suggestions made on www.facebook.com/runningnurse by other runners, especially Jonathan Combs, RN, an avid runner of Northern California, while I was injured.  I was highly encouraged to do my best to stay conditioned.  This support meant quite bit for me.

OYE!  For the rest of my run, I focused on this mantra, “I am grateful I can run!”  Suddenly everything in my path seemed more colorful and alive.   The best of it?  I felt no pain.  I ran mostly on the grass between the street and on the grass next to the sidewalk, being careful not to step in dog mess.  The next day, I took a slower pace and made it through anoter 5K.  Hurray!

So what is your running mantra?  Maybe it’s a short prayer.  Please share it with us in the comment section of this blog.  Looking forward to hearing what mantra works best to help see you through your runs.