Too Much. Too Soon.

Now that summer’s coming to an end, I guess it’s about time for me to write the post I’ve been dreading for weeks.   Anyone who has visited this blog before knows I’ve been dealing with old injuries and new injuries for the past two years.  Several months ago, I found myself in a good place.  The Plantar Fasciitis was manageable, my runs were getting stronger and easier, and I truly felt like I was on an upward trajectory.  Not wanting to encounter another injury for a very long time, I researched and embraced a more minimalist approach to my running.  I bought minimalist shoes and started wearing those 24/7.  I started weaning myself out of my orthotics.  And most significantly, I joined the Spaulding National Running Center to help me transition safely and fully out of my cushioned stability shoes.

The Running Center opened recently near where I live in Boston.  It’s headed up by Irene Davis, PhD, a very well known expert in bio-mechanics and a strong proponent of running barefoot.  The program works like this:  Your first visit is an hour long, or longer.  You do a bunch of strength tests and run on the treadmill both barefoot and shod, while they video tape you.  About a week later, they send you a full analysis of  your running gait and strength tests and make recommendations for a safe transition into minimalist running.  Mine started with a couple weeks of strengthening therapy with a physical therapist, as well as continuous testing of my PF to make sure I wasn’t aggravating that.  Then they started the gait re-training portion when I started to run on the treadmill barefoot.  This part of the program lasts for 3 weeks.  They ask you to commit to going in 3 times a week for 3 weeks.  It’s a very condensed program because they don’t allow you to run outside of their offices for those 3 weeks — they only want you running under their supervision.

It all made sense and I was gung ho to get started and move forward with my minimalist running.  The first 2 weeks went okay.  They started me with running just 5 minutes.  That was enough to seriously wake up my calf muscles.  And quite honestly, they hurt the entire 2 weeks.  Some times were worse than others, but they always hurt.  The therapists continuously monitor your pain and soreness and adjust the program accordingly.  But on the third week, my original injury (the PF in my right foot) flared up and I had to skip a scheduled appointment.  I went to the next appointment and casually mentioned that I had been having some pain on the top of my left foot.  They said I should halt the running until that cleared up.  I went home and googled the symptoms and my heart just sank.  Everything pointed to a metatarsal stress fracture.  Though there is some controversy about whether shod runners or barefoot runners experience stress fractures more often, it seems to be widely accepted that stress fractures are a common injury for those transitioning to minimalist running too quickly.  Your body quite simply can’t adapt to the new stresses and it breaks down.  That’s what happened to me.

That was over 8 weeks ago and I haven’t been able to run since then.   After the first 4 weeks, I went to a doctor that the folks at the Running Center recommended to me.  He didn’t take x-rays.  He didn’t suggest an MRI.  But he did tell me I could start doing the elliptical again and see how that felt.  My foot felt better, so a week or so after my appointment with him I did the elliptical.  I could only go for about 15 minutes before the bottom of my foot started hurting.  So I halted all activity again.  Then I tried a short jog/walk session and that hurt it too.  After a week with it still hurting, I went to a podiatrist who took an x-ray, told me I have a 4th metatarsal stress fracture and she doesn’t like the way it’s healing so she put me in a walking cast for 3 weeks.  I go back on September 6th to see how it’s healing and see if I can resume any kind of activity.

So how do I feel about all of this?  Defeated.  Truly.  I’m frustrated.  I’m discouraged.  I feel like I was trying to do everything right… seeking guidance and care from running experts and trusting that would keep me injury free.  Now I’ve lost the entire summer from running and have no idea when I’ll be able to run again.  Not to mention the financial investment I made with the care I was receiving (a large portion was not covered by insurance).

I’ve never had a stress fracture before, but I have been injured and I know my pattern… I feel sorry for myself for awhile.  Then I start doing crazy research on how to get better.  Eventually I accept it and do other things until I can run again.  I guess that’s where I’m at right now.  I’m trying to embrace other activities.  I’m doing some of the yoga poses that I can.  I’ve tried to swim as much as possible.  But mostly I’m getting pretty un-fit and just waiting until I can run again.

I’ve been MIA on Twitter because it’s too hard to read posts from all my running Twitter friends.  The last 3 issues of Runner’s World and Running Times are collecting dust until I have it in me to read them.  I just want to be among the running again.  I know I’ll get there.  But “the only way out is through” so I just have to take it day by day and wait until I get the thumbs up to try a short run again.

My apologies for the long post.  I don’t particularly like writing about injuries or negative feelings, but I know that misery loves company and I’ve learned a great deal about my injury by reading other blog posts, so I figured I’d share my story too.  I have a ton of information on stress fractures that I won’t bore you with here, but feel free to send me an email if you want more info!   Until then…. happy running and I’ll keep you posted on my recovery.

– Signing off with my new Best Friend (fondly referred to by my friends as ‘Das Boot’)

Das Boot

Tick Tock

Yesterday I got a massage from a new massage therapist I found who is a rock star.  He works with a lot of runners and totally gets the typical tweaks that a runner’s body needs.  He’s a very laid back and funny guy and I feel very comfortable with him.  Good thing, because what happened yesterday was a nightmare.  Here’s how it went down:

I’m lying on the table, face down, and he’s working on the backs of my legs.  All of a sudden he says “Um, Pamela?”  (long pause)  “You have a tick on your leg.”  WTF?!  If I had had clothes on, I would’ve jumped up off that table and ran screaming, but I had to stay lying down because I was butt naked (buck naked?) Anyway…

He went on to say:  “It looks like the head is buried in pretty deep”  (that’s what she said) and then: “I’m gonna pull it out”  (that’s what he said) and he proceeds to grab a kleenex, yank the thing out, and bring it up to where I can see it.  Still alive, all squirming around in the kleenex.  Gross.  He then went and flushed it, washed his hands, put some alcohol on the bite, and continued on like nothing had happened.  But  I was horrified.  HORRIFIED!!  I kept apologizing and he was all “No problem!  Tis the season.  I just pulled one off my daughter too.”  He actually said it’s not the first time that has happened to him (finding a tick on a client) but part of me thinks he was just saying that to be nice.  He did tell me that one time he was massaging a guy and found all kinds of herpes sores around his bum, so that made me feel better.  I guess on the gross-scale, herpes probably rates a little grosser than a tick, right?

My massage therapist doesn’t normally accept tips, but I tipped him last night.  Big time.  Then promptly went home and scoured the internet for symptoms of Lyme disease.

I suppose the silver lining of all this is that the tick was found and removed.  Who knows how long it would’ve been in there before I noticed it myself.    But….. GROSS!!!


And how was your day?

Gone Baby Gone

Wow, almost 2 months since my last post.  Nice work!  It’s clear my motivation to write goes down the tubes unless I have something funny or enlightening to share.  And quite honestly, I was a little cranky for most of March.  It all started when my Plantar Fasciitis decided to invite more people to the party.  And by “more people,” I mean, my other foot.  I guess it wasn’t enough that I’ve been battling this shit for 20 months.  My left foot apparently wanted in on the action.  When I first started feeling the symptoms, I kind of ignored them.  But then it was obvious that something was wrong and I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  I did the usual:  Rest, Ice, Compression, Cry, Eat, Feel Sorry for Myself, etc..  But after a few Graston sessions with my chiropractor, it’s starting to feel better now.  My right foot (the original injury) is still wonky.  But that doesn’t freak me out as much.  That injury is like a familiar old friend in some ways.  It can be a total pain in the butt, but at least I know what to expect from it.  I know how far I can push it.  And I know what to do when it’s acting up.  Having the left foot flare up was more than I wanted to handle.

So.  I didn’t run for a couple of weeks.  One thing these injuries have taught me is that it’s not the end of the world if I can’t run for a few days, or even a couple of weeks.  It’s when I fear the worst — months and months of inactivity — that I start to freak out.  But I try to take it one day at a time and I’m happy to say I’m back on the mend.  Sort of.  I’m running about 5 miles a few times a week and will start to inch that up a bit in the near future if all goes well.

Anyone who has suffered from PF knows that there is not one specific way to get rid of it.  Different people respond to different treatments.  Some people swear by the boot or Strassburg Sock, but neither of those work for me.  I’ve found that stretching my hip flexors (the suspected culprit of this whole thing) and calf muscles, along with icing, foot strengthening, and regular Graston/ART sessions with my chiro have helped me the most.  I also very recently started wearing new shoes.  Yup, I’m going minimal.  SLOWLY.  My chiro finally talked me into it.  Most avid runners have been watching (and participating in) the conversations/debates about minimalist running for years now.  Because of my injury, I have always been interested, but never thought I was in a position to try it.  I’ve been wearing orthotics for the PF and thought it was counter-intuitive to wear orthotics with minimalist shoes.  Boy, was I wrong.  About 3 weeks ago, at the recommendation of my chiro, I broke down and bought these babies:

They make my feet so happy

They are the New Balance Minimus 20 trail running shoe.  I can’t explain how they make my feet feel, except they make them feel “right.”  They’re not truly “barefoot” running shoes like the Vibram Five Finger (though Vibram does make the outsole of these shoes) and they do have a very slight drop (I think it’s 4 mm).  But I like them so much, I went out and bought the newer version (Minimus 20 v2) in a lighter color.

Aren't they pretty?

I’m breaking them in slowly.  I’m wearing them all the time, but still using the orthotics about 70% of the time, and only up to 15 minutes of running so far.  Believe me, I don’t want to risk further injury.  But so far, these shoes have felt better on my feet than anything I’ve worn in a long time (I’ve been a long time Asics wearer).  I know minimalist shoes are not for everyone, but I think they are perfect for me right now.  I’d love to hear from any of you about your experiences (good or bad) with minimalist shoes.

So what else have I been up for for the past couple months?  Starting a new project which involves running that I’m very excited about, but can’t write about just yet.  I’m also about to celebrate a birthday.  And for some reason there are many people in my life who are having babies.  Like, babies EVERYwhere.  Not in MY belly, but everywhere else, it seems.  In fact, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re wearing protection or you might get pregnant too.  It’s so weird!

I promise to not let another 2 months go by without an update.  I have too many exciting things to write about…

Cupid Was Drunk

Cupid was drunk when he shot his arrow at me. He must’ve been. Like, stumbling drunk. I’ve not been lucky in love. Well, that’s not entirely true… I have had several long-term relationships that were sometimes wonderful, sometimes not-so-wonderful, and I have loved and learned from them all. But I’m single now, and have been for a couple years (and by a “couple,” I mean more like five.) I’ve been single for five years! I guess the fact that 5 years went by so quickly is a testament to how full my life feels without a man. Don’t get me wrong — since my last relationship ended , I’ve dated men here and there, but nothing that developed into anything serious. And for the most part, I’m okay with that. I don’t want to be alone forever — and I need to do some work around that — but on the eve of Valentines Day, I’d actually like to focus on how awesome I think it is to be single on Valentines Day. Seriously. I have nothing against the holiday in general, but I personally have never had an interest in celebrating it myself, boyfriend or not. When Valentines Day rolls around and I do have a boyfriend? I’ve always told them the same thing: Do not buy me flowers. Don’t. I love flowers. But I don’t want to get them because it’s a valentines day requirement. I want them “just because.” And you know what? Particularly with my last boyfriend — the man who, so far, has been the Love of My Life — I got a lot of flowers. Just because. Just because he knows I love them and he loves me and wanted to express that. Isn’t that better than pressuring him on one day to do what he’s “supposed to” because some random holiday dictates it? And isn’t it terrible that this one random holiday makes a lot of single people suddenly feel like there’s something wrong with them because they’re single? (Like we don’t already get that message enough.)  Yeah.  This year, on Valentines Day, I propose that single folks celebrate being single.  Even if you don’t want to be single.  Try to focus on the positive.  Live your life as if you’re going to meet your soul mate tomorrow.  Use the time to discover new passions, or rekindle old ones (for me it’s running and video editing).  Take advantage of the freedom of being without a partner.  Be happy for those who are in love and celebrating that love on Valentines Day — but remember that a lot of those couples are more lonely than you are.  Because the relationship is not what they want it to be.  But they’d rather be in any relationship than be alone.  Take comfort in knowing you are open and free to meet a new partner.  The right partner.  Look forward to feeling the spark of a new romance.  The excitement of 1st, 2nd and 3rd dates.  Try not to feel crappy that you’re alone on a holiday celebrating love.  Try to feel proud, instead.  You’re doing it on your own.  Living life.  That’s not always easy and it takes a lot of courage and strength.  Be proud of that.   To quote one of my favorite movie characters (Janet Livermore) played by a terrific actress (Bridget Fonda) in a classic movie about being single (“Singles”):  “Being alone–there’s a certain dignity to it.”

Dignity, Indeed. Happy Valentines Day everybody!

Run for Sherry

I woke up this morning thinking I would have to run on the treadmill (snow) or not run at all (foot).  To my delight, I was able to run, and because we got about 2-4 flakes (instead of the 2-4 inches predicted), I ran outside.  I ran alone, which I thought might be lonely on this particular occasion, but it wasn’t.  In fact it was the opposite.  I didn’t feel alone at all.  I felt like each and every runner participating in the Run for Sherry was right there with me in spirit.  After a brief moment of silence for Sherry, I hit the trail for a slow, steady, quiet run.  I run these trails all the time, but today I really took the time to appreciate it all:  the weather, the river, the packed dirt trail, the fellow runners, and the fact that I could run.  That I was running.  Because a fellow runner, Sherry Arnold, lost her life doing that one thing that bonds us runners together.  Which is unspeakably unfair and wrong on so many levels.  I didn’t know Sherry.  I don’t know her family.  I know of her because of her cousin Beth who writes one of my favorite blogs.  Beth organized this event and I’m so glad she did.  Not only will Sherry’s family be able to witness the outpouring of support, but it gives all of us runners — forces us, really — to take a moment and forget about the petty bullshit.  And to really appreciate what we do have.  I hope Sherry’s family felt the love.  And I hope they continue to find support as they try to move on from this tragedy.  I felt honored to be able to be part of the process.

Wearing my "Run for Sherry" Bib

A Nice Reminder


Run For a Fellow Runner Who Has Been Lost

Last week there was an article about a woman in a suburb of Boston who was attacked while on an early morning run along the course of the Boston Marathon.  That article hit close to home because I am a runner in Boston who usually runs in the early morning hours.  Fortunately this woman was able to get away.

Two thousand miles away, another runner, another woman, was attacked and sadly had a different outcome.  This woman’s name was Sherry Arnold.  Sherry was a 43-year old mother and math teacher and by all accounts, was a wonderful and loving person.

Sherry’s cousin Beth writes one of my favorite blogs, Shut Up & Run.  Her posts are funny, inspiring, and very down to earth.  Beth has been giving the running community continuous updates on the ongoing investigation into Sherry’s disappearance and in turn has received an outpouring of support on her blog.

After the arrest of two men — one of whom confessed to Sherry’s murder — Beth decided to organize a “virtual run” in Sherry’s honor to be held on February 11th at 9:00am MST.  As is typical of the tight-knit running community, the news has spread like wildfire, and people all over the country — the world, even — are planning to run in Sherry’s honor. I am planning to run in Boston at 11:00am EST.  If there are any local runners who would like to join us, please send me a message at   We’d love to have you along.  For more information about Sherry and the virtual run (and to print out a bib) click here.

Though it is a deeply sad event that will bring runners together on February 11th, it’s a testament to the solidarity of the running community to rally around one of our own who has been lost.

Treadmill or Trail?

After yesterday’s snow – and reading some local runner blogs about the slippery running conditions – I woke up thinking I might have to succumb to the treadmill today.  I have been injured enough the past couple of years, I didn’t want to risk a bad face-plant.

But I looked out my window and everything was snowy and sunny and sparkly and I decided I’d rather risk the trail than miss a run outside on this beautiful morning.  And I’m so glad I did.  The conditions were fine and if I had chosen the treadmill, I would’ve missed this:

Snow covered river

And this:

Beautiful Blue Sky

And this:

Ice Crater

And this:

Empty Silent Benches

And this:

Bottom Up Boats

It was slippery and the snow made it a slow-go, but the bright sun, crisp air, and beautiful scenery made it all worth while.  Think I can make it through the whole winter without a step on the treadmill?  One can hope!


I haven’t posted for awhile because I have been in a FUNK.  I guess I always felt like I should only post when I can share something optimistic or inspiring.  Like, who wants to read about someone else’s bad day?  But in the interest of keeping it real — and giving some hope to someone else who has entered the Funkzone — I’ll put it out there.

It started 3 days after Christmas.  I got sick.  Really sick.  Getting sick at Christmas isn’t unusual for me.  Holiday photographs from the first 5 years of my life show my siblings opening presents with wild enthusiasm, while I’m seen in the background, on the couch, propped up with pillows, sick as a dog.  So it’s not unexpected for me to get sick at Christmas.  But this particular flu threw me for a loop.  I was in bed with a fever for 2 days and have been battling residual symptoms for 3+ weeks since then.

It felt like my whole life got derailed.  I couldn’t eat very much.  Forget working out.  Definitely no running.  And no running — or no physical exercise of any sort — for me, is a recipe for disaster. Eventually my mind started following how my body felt and I was officially in Funk.  Straight-up, stir-fried, FUNK.  The downward spiral where everything feels wrong and nothing feels right.  I normally pride myself on trying to see the positive in my life every day.  And I have a lot to be thankful for.  A LOT.  But I couldn’t go there.  I didn’t want to be with anyone, didn’t want to engage in life, didn’t want to show up.  I watched a lot of TV, read a bunch of books, and basically just shut down mentally and physically.

About a week ago, I started to come out the other side and feel better again.  I managed to run a few miles this week, which was exactly what I needed.  I got out and had dinner with friends, got focused and motivated at work, started cooking some healthy meals, and slept for a glorious 11 hours last night.

At my age, I’ve been through enough Funks to know that “the only way out is through.”  You just sort of have to feel what you’re feeling and eventually let it go.  And better days are ahead.

Earlier this week, I was walking home from a wonderful lunch with a dear friend and I saw this painted on the side of post.  It was exactly what I needed to read.  Because, you see, no matter how alone we might feel — no matter how unique our experience may seem — chances are, there is someone else out there who has gone or is going through the same thing.  You are not alone.

Have you ever been in a funk?  What do you do to get through it?

Holding my Life in an Open Hand

I’m in my 40’s and I have a lot of friends that span both the younger and older end of the age spectrum.  The other night I was having dinner with some of the younger folk – average age was probably around 30.  At one point during dinner, a 28-year old friend turns to me and declares “I’m going to be married and have 4 kids by the time I’m 35.”  And knowing her, she will.  But here’s the thing… what if she doesn’t?  What if she doesn’t meet the right guy?  What if she does and they get divorced?  What if she’s 34 and she’s only had one child?  What if she’s 34 and a single mom?  What if she’s 34 and (gasp!) SINGLE?  Of course I didn’t say any of this to her.  I definitely had similar goals and rigid timelines when I was her age.  But it reminded me of someone I met long ago who made a declaration that has stuck with me ever since.

He said:   “Don’t focus on outcomes.”  I was young.  In my early 20’s.  And was at a ceremony celebrating the retirement of my father.  It was a lovely day — lots of people were saying wonderful things about my father, whom I adore.  But of all the accolades and advice, the one thing that stuck with me was:  Don’t.  Focus.  On.  Outcomes.  Why did that resonate with me so deeply?  Because I am a perpetual focuser on outcomes.  I want things to go the way I think they “should” go.  I want to know what’s going to happen before it happens so I won’t be caught off guard.  I try not to leave anything to chance.  I want to be prepared.  I want to know exactly what’s going to happen and how I’ll feel about it.   And if I think I won’t feel good about it?  I’ll try to change it or avoid it all together.   In other words, I’m extremely focused on outcomes.

I think it all boils down to a struggle with control.  I want it.  I want it always.  It has a tendency to rear its ugly head a lot with my running.  I just started running again after a long injury and I’m still not completely healed.  But I’m running again.  And I’ve only recently turned the corner with being able to bring back in some speed work.  The first time I ran a sub-8 minute mile again?  I was over the moon.  Not two weeks later, I’m disappointed that I haven’t yet run a sub-7:30.

And this isn’t just with events that are outside of my control – it also happens with people.  I was in a 7 year relationship with a great guy and I spent the final 3 years of the relationship trying to make it something it wasn’t.  Tried to make him something he wasn’t.  We had grown apart and rather than accept that, I tried to force it to be what I thought it should be.  Tried to force the outcome.  Well, the outcome was that we broke up.  Fortunately we are still very good friends, but it was a big lesson for me.

And the truth is there are so many things in life that are completely out of our control.  And to try and swim against that is only going to make it worse.

I read a great article in Running Times magazine about 35-year old runner Dot McMahan and her struggles (and triumphs) with getting back to running after having a baby.  One section of the piece reads: “The start of her family has taught McMahan to hold her running career in an open hand.”  An open hand.  I like that.  My hand?  It’s slowly – SLOWLY – starting to loosen its grip on my desired outcomes.  I think my injuries helped me to appreciate running for far more than accomplishments with speed.  And disappointments in my career or matters of the heart have taught me that life doesn’t always happen the way it’s “supposed” to happen.

And you know what?  Sometimes the unknown can be very exciting if you can learn to just chill the fuck out and let it unfold.