Barefoot Running . . . Fantasy vs. Reality
When I first began my barefoot wanderings, in January of 2010, my focus, goal, aim, hope, extremely wishful thinking . . . was that this latest experiment would be the key to solving the ongoing mystery of my lifelong running injuries (having tried all kinds of physical therapies, strengthening programs, rooster comb injections, acupuncture, massage, ART, ice, heat, icy-heat, and an assortment of support devices including bands, straps, sleeves, and $500 orthotics).
Not so much.
Every time I get to the point where I can run 60-90 minutes (on trails! up and down stuff!), my body busts out a new area of pain; lately, it’s been my right hip, so much so that for a few days last week even walking was unpleasant . . . and “nature hiking” has always been my activity of last resort to keep sane in busy Southern California.
Arrghh . . . that’s right . . . in spite of the cheery tone of this blog, running for the last couple of weeks/months has been an agonizingly futile attempt to string together a succession of a hundred yards of steps that are quicker than walking, but then. The. Pain.
The words of a physical therapist from many years ago come to mind, again and always: “What is your injury trying to tell you?”
When I first heard those words back in 2004, I was ticked. It seemed to me he was trying to politely say, “Just give up. The pain is not getting better, so quit running and live with it.”
So, of course, I found another PT, and kept trying to get back to running (always walking walking walking in the meantime).
Now, after some digging around on the internet (last month the doctor said it was my psoas, so I had to look that up), I’ve discovered ideas about pain and our bodies that have me completely re-thinking the question, “What is your injury trying to tell you?”
Of course I’ve been working on my running form all these years–running without shoes makes that critical–but now I’m going a bit deeper, and learning to listen to what my body might be trying to tell me about the places (present AND past) that hurt.
I’m deeply grateful to my “team” of wonder-working body workers, and am happy that a lifetime of fun running seems possible again . . . beginning with yesterday’s lovely, easy, hill-and-valley-ramble in Santiago Oaks Regional Park (85 degrees and humid at 6 pm . . . my favorite running weather!)
Will I ever accomplish my big dream of running all day? Maybe an off-road ultra-marathon?
I am learning all the time (working on my psoas ever day via “constructive rest”) but of course still have some work to do . . . especially now that I’ve discovered the field of “somatic archeology”; it looks like I have LOTS of listening ahead of me as I keep deciphering “what the pain is trying to tell me.”
In the meantime, happy trails, indeed!