The depression has me now. It has been pulling at my psyche for a few days. It’s my foot. I have Morton’s neuroma. It flared up for the first time a couple of years ago right before my first 50 mile race. I was devastated, having no idea what was wrong. I went straight to disaster mode in my head and thought I would have to postpone my first ultra marathon. I was a mess, an emotional wreck, totally distraught. People at work knew I was not myself and gave me the grace to be hypersensitive. It was awful, but I iced my foot and stopped running for a couple of weeks leading up to the race, and I was fine. After the race was over, I went to a foot Doctor and was diagnosed with neuroma. For the most part, my foot has been symptom free since the first serious episode.
This leads me back to the beginning, my depression. A few weeks ago I attempted the Hagg Lake Mud Run. I had no idea the terrain was going to be as muddy and wet as it was. My theory is that the sloppy, muddy trail put pressure on the damaged nerve in my foot and caused the inflammation. I was ill prepared for the mud and ended up having my first DNF (did not finish) since I began running just over 5 years ago. The DNF is depressing all on its own, but pair that with an injury, and you have complete misery.
What goes through the head of a runner who can’t run? Day one is usually denial. I hear myself say it’s not that bad. I will run tomorrow. By day two I realize it’s a true injury that may keep me from running for a few days and then I’m mad. By day three I become irritable and depressed. I start feeling fat and I don’t want to eat. That’s when the self-doubt kicks in. I begin the irrational calculations in my head about how quickly I will lose strength and endurance. I start counting down the weeks to my next big race to make sure I will still have time to train. I get jealous when I hear people talk about running and I become resentful when I see people wearing running gear. I go back and forth between feeling angry and depressed all day long.
How do I get through it? I take comfort in knowing that my body will heal. It just takes time. I feel encouraged when I hear fellow runners talk about injuries. The stories they share pull me from the comfortless isolation in my head and snap me back into reality. I often magnify feelings in my head and it’s reassuring to hear that I am not the only runner that experiences these irrational perceptions. I don’t want anyone to be injured, but when they are, and they share their experience, I feel inspired. So this is my attempt to process my feelings. To share my view with others so that I can move past the depression more swiftly and perhaps be of some comfort to a fellow runner who is struggling with an injury too.