Earlier this year I wondered if it was better to try to “run through” plantar fasciitis or take a couple months off to help heal my heel.
Now I’ve got a chance to try the road not taken, as I’ve developed the same condition in my right foot.
Given that my running goals for this year have pretty much evaporated, is there anything positive to take away from this? Is it possible to reframe seven months (and counting) of pain and frustration as an opportunity for gratitude?
The fact that these questions even occur to me is a reflection on what I’m getting out of Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way. It’s a collection of historical examples of stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of turning adversity into advantage. (Advantage, by the way, doesn’t always mean some tangible, tactical edge. Sometimes it’s just an opportunity to sharpen your mental toughness. But while no one would ever purposefully sign up for lessons in suffering, developing confidence in your ability to endure can pay off in other ways that are hard to imagine at the time.)
Holiday’s book feels a bit trite at times, a little too much cheerleading in between the historical nuggets, but it’s a decent introduction to stoicism that makes me want to read more on the subject.
As for the answer to the questions raised above, here’s what I came up with:
*I now appreciate how much I love running for its own sake, regardless of how many races I can sign up for or how well I do in them.
*I’m much more aware of all the parts of my foot that work together to help me run. I’m trying to feel grateful when the pain goes away for even a little while – and to be patient when it’s excruciating, knowing that I don’t really have shards of glass in my heel but just need to stretch and/or ice the inflamed ligament.
*Finally, this whole experience is forcing me to eat better. I’ve actually dropped a few pounds because I’ve had to be more disciplined. So maybe the extra time involved with this second injury phase will help seal in that mindset.