From the top of Franshoek Pass on last weekend’s base ride, I thought my uphill battle with injury was almost over.
I could see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. After slogging away 6 months of rehab, I was lacing up to explore the mountain trails and ticking off 4 and 5 hours rides. Finally, forward momentum! I had even made it through a physiotherapy session without any acupuncture, ultra-sound or tape strapping. Progress literally felt good. Then it happened; I stepped on a stone. Or, I thought I did. I was walking along warming up before a run and suddenly my heel felt like I had stepped on a stone. I wiggled my foot around didn’t feel anything so off I went for my run. After a joyous 50 minutes (my longest run since September), I noticed my heel still hurt. I got home and took out the insole of my shoe, no stone. The pain didn’t go away either. I iced, I stretched, I rolled, and then I stuck an anti-inflammatory patch on it and started to panic. The next 48 hours was a haze of pain, tears, and physiotherapy. How could I be so close to being healthy and hear the dreaded words “you have plantar faciitis, maybe a stress fracture.” Naturally I Googled the crap out of heel pain before I went to physiotherapy so I knew some of the possible outcomes but hearing the diagnosis was like taking a bullet. My heart jumped into my throat, my stomach dropped and my mind went blank. I felt like I kept it together, asking questions and being thankful for their help, but I could feel myself sinking.
These aren’t for running anymore, especially with ugly heel cups.
The physio continued to knead my foot with what felt like a meat tenderizer while I buried my face in a pillow, resisting the urge to yank my foot away from the excruciating pain. I also had shockwave therapy on my foot and calf which I can only describe as an electrified jackhammer of agony. I was given hideous heel cup inserts for my shoes to take the edge off the pain and finally I got the run down of the recovery plan: no running or weight bearing activity for 6 weeks. In a split second 6 months of rehab felt erased; I was back to square one and World Duathlon Champs was ripped out of my hands. How can I be here again? How am I going to start all over again? Can I start all over again? I returned home, completely broken hearted. 10,000 calories and a lot of tears later, I still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel but it’s full steam ahead into the darkness. It’s apparently about 6 weeks until my foot heals. Double doses of rehab a day, physio and shockwave once a week, easy swimming and soon cycling. After that, a lifetime of prevention. That’s the plan. I’ll stick to it. But that’s only the plan for my plantar faciitus, I’m still not sure how I’m going to rehab my broken heart.