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Time to Reboot

September 20, 2010

What all the cool kids will be wearing this fall--along with jeggings, of course.

Dear Black Boot,

I hate you.

I hate how hot you make my foot. I hate how you suction up every dog hair ever shed in our house. I hate that it takes me at least 3 minutes to put you on, and 1 minute to take you off.  I hate that I have no other shoe that matches you. I hate that, when I have you on, my ankle can’t bend and my toes cramp up and I’m positive nothing is healing. I hate that you make me lose my hard-fought cardiovascular fitness, and, to add insult to injury, the mere sight of you sends me clomping to the freezer to dive into Ben + Jerry’s.

Most of all, I hate that your elevated heel makes me peg leg around like a pirate. I’m so imbalanced, my whiny, awful left hip, the one that I’ve been making so much progress on, is back to ground zero. And my straight spine and strong core? The one I’ve been working on since May? Yeah, well, you pretty much f*&k that up too.

So, as you and a couple others around here know, I dropped you. After 1.5 stifling weeks of clod-hopping around, I decided I didn’t need you. I rationalized that healing one sliver of crack in one small foot bone was not worth sacrificing the rest of my body–and all the energy, time and money I’d put into making it run more smoothly. I thought that if I just didn’t run, and wore the stiffest shoes I could find, my foot would heal and nobody would be the wiser. I’d go back to the orthopedist in early October, he’d look at an X-ray, see a cloud of new calcium around the bone and pronounce me good.

Lucky for you, black boot, I talked to two very wise women this weekend who came down firmly on your side. One, a physical therapist, explained things in much clearer terms than the (smug, hurried) doctor did. In order to heal, she told me, a foot has to be immobilized; every time I move it, the fracture is that much farther from closing up. As she talked, I knew she was right. My fracture doesn’t hurt anymore than it did a few weeks ago, but it certainly doesn’t feel any better. She made a very strong case for wearing you for just four weeks, and then maybe transitioning into shoes. “Can I at least swim and bike?” I asked, in a wavery voice, “Only if it doesn’t hurt,” she replied.

Since I’m spilling my guts here, I may as well add to the pile; both swimming and biking hurt. The stress of the water pressure when I kick cramps my foot. My bike shoe clips into the pedal pretty much right over the fracture. It doesn’t hurt to easily spin, but to work up a sweat–the closest thing I have to my long-lost running–does, you know, hurt. (My other stress fracture, the one in RLAM, was in my heel, so pedaling wasn’t an issue.)

The other woman I talked to was a student in somatic psychology, which is the integration of emotions and bodily feelings, processes, and symptoms. Although I didn’t tell her about omitting you from my footwear choices, I did tear up and say how frustrated and angry I am at my body. At the dumb crack in my foot. At my stubborn left hip that, honestly, I’d rip off if I could. At a mind that is so willing, but a body that is so not.

Her response in a nutshell to me: Don’t be so angry. Treat my hurting parts with the love I’d give a sick friend. Try to sit with the pain in my hip and see what bigger things it might represent. Use this time–these 28 paltry days–as a chance for other opportunities I miss out on when I am out the door at 5:30 for 5 miles.

In other words, use the break in my foot to address my whole body, mind and all. So I am going to do my best–she was also a big opponent of using the word should–-to stretch and foam roll my sorest parts that stem from wearing you, BB; to remember to take calcium and my vitamins (going to buy a M/T/W/etc. dispenser at the store tomorrow, as one RLAM’er mentioned she does); to get a massage regularly; to be as kind and generous to my body as she was to me.

What I’m going to try my best not to do: be bitter and bitchy; think about how far I’ve fallen–and how much farther down I may go; obsess that I’m not going fit into my jeans anymore; wonder if I’ll ever run happily and pain-free again.

So I’m putting you back on tomorrow, BB. We are now a team. I’m going to try to pair you with my cowboy boot as soon as the weather relents–it’s supposed to be 93 here tomorrow: ugh–and hope that the heels match up. I’ll wear you as much as I can, removing you only to swim (with a pull buoy between my legs) and spin (no pain allowed: pinky-swear promise) and sleep (contrary to what jerk doc said, I’m just not taking you to bed). I’ll use the sticky side of duct tape to de-fur you now and then.

And I will show you as much compassion as I plan on showing myself.

See you in the morning, bright and early.

41 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    September 20, 2010 5:06 am

    Thank you for this Dimity! I’m dealing with an injury right now and I really needed to read this!

    • sdm permalink
      September 20, 2010 10:34 am

      Me too! It is so hard not to get upset over injuries but, again, you helped me realize that I am not alone on the DL list and that there is always some sort of positive (I’ve finally been working my much-neglected abs).

      • September 20, 2010 12:34 pm

        There’s strength in numbers, even if they are injured numbers, right? 🙂

  2. September 20, 2010 5:15 am

    I’m so glad you’re surrounded by people who care enough to tell you when you’re wrong.

    ((I’m sure you don’t eat as badly as I do when I’m depressed over an injury, but….)) One thing I would add—try to watch what you eat. When I get upset, food is a big source of “comfort”….but really, I eat things that are “harmful” to my body…things I regret later. I’ve determined it’s just another way I’m not nice to myself. Sugar seems to make me really weak the day after I eat more of it than usual (food hangover?)…at the time I’m stuffing my face with cream filled donuts I think I’m just indulging my tastebuds. But, I’m “hurting” myself in the long run if I OVER indulge. (In addition to running through pain, not taking rest days like I “should”, skipping strength training because I don’t like it, walking during a run, and berating myself when I don’t meet a goal I’ve set for myself-like not walking and strength training at least 3 times a week…) Eating poorly just another way I have of “hating” my body. I would never feed my kids a half dozen donuts just because they sad they wanted it; I love them too much to do something I know is really bad for them….I need to love me that much too. Thanks for the great reminder.

    • September 20, 2010 9:24 am

      Hey Dana: you’re absolutely right. Sugar is a drug for me (and sounds like for you too), so I do my best to keep it out of the house when I know I’ll need it most. (Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not…). I had a coach tell me once, when I was really psyched out for a race, “Never say anything to yourself you wouldn’t say to a friend.” I think that applies to life and our bodies as well. We’ve only got one, so we may as well treat them with as much kindness as possible–and limit the amount of glazed. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughtful words. xo.

  3. Heidi permalink
    September 20, 2010 5:27 am


    Looking at the strong, gorgeous, shapely legs in your photo, it is hard to believe that you are actually worried about losing fitness in just a month without running.

    I know this month is going to be hard, and I know it will suck. But I also know that down the road when you look back, you will barely remember the month, and the amount of time you had to take off will seem so minor in comparison to the time you have spent running and training since then. I had a stress fx in 2008. Kept trying to run on it for weeks until I got the firm diagnosis. When it did, it literally felt like the end of the world, and I threw a 30 day pity party that ONLY Ben & Jerry were invited too. (I don’t know why it’s called Chubby Hubby, because the result is Chubby Wife) But at the end of those 30 days was 20 minutes on a treadmill 3 times a week, and before long I was running outside, and then training normally again. And NOW, on this side of it – I’m amazed that I only had to take a month off for a stress fx, that a bone could really heal that fast.

    I KNOW this SUCKS, Dimity. But I know you can do it. It’s a month – but it’s only a month. It will pass faster than you think, and slower than it should – but once you hear that the bone is healing and you can move your foot again, it will all be worth it. I tried to tell myself that I was trading one day now for every year of running later – 28 days for 28 years (although I hope to be running past that) – and that made it seem more logical.

    Hang in there. The time will pass, and the sooner you start healing, the sooner you’ll get that darn boot off. 🙂

    • September 20, 2010 12:33 pm

      Hey Heidi: Chubby Wife? That made me LOL. Thanks. And thanks for your kind words and perspective…totally helpful. Day 1 of healing? Over half-way done. 🙂

  4. September 20, 2010 5:46 am

    Ahhh – I, too, needed to read this. I am down and out right now, with a hip injury that started a week and a half ago and a race next Sunday that I have been training for since the beginning of June. It S U C K S. As much as you inspire everyone with your entries on running, you are already inspiring those of us that are unable to run and who are jealous of every mile tallied, too. Thank you!!!!!

    • September 20, 2010 9:29 am

      Sorry to hear about your hip, Joyce…I trust you’re taking care of it? Hard not to get jealous, but keeping my eyes in my own boat, so to speak, helps. And not driving on routes where I know I’ll see a bunch of runners does too. 🙂

  5. September 20, 2010 7:10 am

    UGH! Hang in there, it will get better. You can get some good swimming in with a pull buoy! See if you can find some drills that don’t hurt, & put in some work on your stroke – it is good to have a project…

    • September 20, 2010 9:28 am

      Jenny: I will have shoulders of steel! Or at least they’ll be strong enough to hang with the master’s team now. 🙂

  6. nancy permalink
    September 20, 2010 7:45 am

    Oh, Dimity, I have the companion to your boot, sitting expensively on my back-bedroom-closet-shelf–where I store it in case some other friend doesn’t want to shell out $300 for one at the doctor’s office–from my broken foot last year. Which was followed by broken toes and then a broken (crushed) finger, each in time to kick me down just before a half ironman, six months in the training. So I have some authority behind me when I agree with your somatic psychology friend. Angry only makes things painful and tense, and getting creative with your training shows you just how resilient you really are. My foot doc, also a triathlon buddy, let me swim right away as long as I didn’t push off the wall or kick, and I was able to spin with a cycling shoe with a nice solid sole–no flexure.
    Each setback provides an opportunity to strengthen something new, and look in a new direction for your training and your life. Your hip will thank you for taking the time to stretch it when the boot makes you lopsided.
    Good luck with your recovery–maybe you could make a paper-chain of 28 links, & as you tear each one off, write a note of gratitude on it? Or an intention on each as you make the chain? That sort of thing done on the reverse of a pace band has really helped me through tough marathon miles.

    • September 20, 2010 9:28 am

      Nancy: I love that idea. I was going to make a calendar so that I could check off stretching, vitamins, rolling, etc. but I like your idea much, much more. Plus, it’s an after-school art project. How fun is that? 🙂 Thanks for your helpful, been-there words.

  7. September 20, 2010 7:51 am

    My only thought while reading this was “Wow, your legs look GREAT!” Nice tan and nice muscle definition.

    • September 20, 2010 8:08 am

      I was thinking the same thing!!

    • September 20, 2010 9:25 am

      Thanks. I joke sometimes that my name should be Dimitri, which (I think) is Greek. I’ve always been easy to tan. (And I’ll probably be as wrinkled as a raisin in 20 years…).

  8. Noelle permalink
    September 20, 2010 8:32 am

    Dimity! My heart goes out to you. Your courage both in laying out how you feel and kicking it up a notch with your bitchin’ black boot exercises all the discipline you’ve developed during those 5:30a mornings. When you’re ready to consider a silver lining to this difficult time, know that the mental toughness you gain by walking through these 28 days will give you relentless strength when covering future miles.

    Give BB a kiss for me. Or at least a pat.

    • September 20, 2010 9:26 am

      I’ll pat. Not ready to kiss. 🙂 Thanks, Noelle.

  9. September 20, 2010 8:58 am

    Oh, Dimity, reading your Black Boot letter was a little heart breaking, but I’m glad you are doing the right thing for your body, which in the end is the right thing for the rest of you. It sucks, I know, to feel like your body has turned on you, especially when you have been so good to it. Been there. But, even with it’s quirks (right?), your body is strong! Now it needs some extra TLC from you. Easier said than done, I know. I moped through the first few weeks of my injury and spent it pretty bitter. And had several lapses along the way. I think it’s OK to allow yourself a little pissiness. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and the boot will help you get there. Soon, you and your body will be BFFs again. Your somatic psychologist friend is right, now is the time to treat yourself like you would a friend or family member who needs the support. Massages, pilates, modified work outs, evenings out with friends and dates with Grant, all stuff to look forward to and pass the time. Soon it will be Halloween, even before Halloween, and that boot will be off, for good. And the next BB letter you write will be a “dear John” letter. Hang tough.

  10. September 20, 2010 9:14 am

    Awwww, Dim…. I am so sorry. It really is a teeny little death we feel when we can’t run. Congratulations on staying so determined to heel and get your groove back. I can only imagine the expletives I would be spewing if it was me in your black boot! And, yeah, your legs are, like, phenomenal!

  11. Amanda permalink
    September 20, 2010 9:51 am

    Top 10 Reasons to Love Your Boot

    10. The dog ate a shoe? Your kids used one of your favorite shoes as a shovel? Who cares, you only need one now.

    9. A new day, a new story. When you see people staring, you can launch into a story about your mechanical bull habit, your botched dismount from the trapeze, or your motorcycle accident.

    8. Finally, a place to store your sword.

    7. Fur boots are in this year, and the fashionistas will envy that yours is organic and sustainable.

    6. Always wondered if you could really braid leg hair? Now’s your chance to find out.

    5. If someone gives you a hard time, you can “accidentally” trip them with it.

    4. It’s not a 3 inch heel or an army boot.

    3. That Lindsay Lohan is going to get drunk and fall off a curb. When she does, you can tell everyone you started the boot trend first.

    2. Admit it, you always wanted an excuse to drive the scooter carts at the grocery store.

    And the number 1 reason to love your boot …

    1. It’s research for your next best-seller, Recover Like a Mother.

  12. Megan permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:12 am

    you have the prettiest legs. 🙂

  13. Heather permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:32 am

    I LOL at the Jegging comment! Thanks for posting. It helps to know I am not the only one who wants to *itch when I am hurt. Sorry you are down and out, hope the 28 days goes super fast. Write more on here, I love to read it. 🙂

    • September 20, 2010 12:27 pm

      what is up with that word jegging? probably my least favorite fashion term of all time. 🙂 Glad you like to hear my complaining, Heather: it’s a thin line whining to moms who have to deal with the whiny set all day long. 🙂

      • Heather permalink
        September 21, 2010 10:15 am

        It’s different when you listen to someone you agree with complain….especially since you aren’t complaining about the clothes you have to wear, your homework or the food I fixed! LOL!

  14. September 20, 2010 10:53 am

    Today I understand your pain…sort of. I’ve been battling a toothache for over a week now…I just can’t run in that kind of pain. I have pain killers that (sort of) work and am hoping the antibiotics will kick in before this weekend to relieve the actual pain.

  15. Dawn permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:42 pm

    Oh Dimity,

    You have made me laugh. I just sent you an email with a photo of me wearing the running skirt I won, and 2 days after that I ended up with a grade 3 ankle sprain and now have to wear a cast…:-(

    I have gone through the being really pissed at myself for a simple slip off the sidewalk (and running on the spot at the time waiting for the lights to change!!!) and now not being able to do any running, and beating myself up mentally. You are right about the not saying anything you wouldn’t say to a friend. But as women we always seem to be so hard on ourselves don’t we!

    I will try to be kinder to myself. I will try to face this with more patience. I will try to keep smiling.

    Thankyou for making me feel less alone. x

  16. debe permalink
    September 20, 2010 1:20 pm

    I got to tell you, bling up that boot!

    My fracture seemed to last forever, and it was in SNOW that I was wearing that thing.

    I could not imagine doing that boot without some bling!

    Follow the advise of a former dancer and aerobics instructor – bling will do it for ya!

  17. Michelle permalink
    September 20, 2010 1:29 pm

    Like always, your comments make me laugh and tear up at the same time. A break from working out means more time for writing, a great thing for those of us who enjoy reading! Take care:)

  18. Lee permalink
    September 20, 2010 4:34 pm

    I haven’t had a running injury, but last fall/winter I got H1N1 and then it turned into pneumonia. The pneumonia led to a broken rib, and all that sickness led to tremors (which cause me to shake if I’m sitting or standing). When I was going through it all, I couldn’t walk a block without getting tired, and I really wondered if I’d ever be able to run again. I recovered slowly ( all I could do my first time back was 1 mile!). But I did recover fully, and completed my first triathlon this summer. I know you will get back to where you were too!

    • Amanda permalink
      September 20, 2010 5:40 pm

      That’s the best reminder to get a flu shot! Glad you’re recovered.

  19. Hollie permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:13 pm

    Just have to say, even with “the boot”, you’ve got some nice legs.

  20. Shana permalink
    September 21, 2010 7:59 am

    First off – you have nice legs!
    Second – I’ve been going to massage “therapy” – heavy on the therapy – and the massuere(?) is saying the same thing, “what are you holding on to that keeps your legs so sore?” and “when you allow ‘the light’ to come between your muscles and bone how do they feel?”
    I am working on the ‘be kind to thyself’ role without becoming self-absorbed.
    My legs are thanking me.
    Together – we can do this.

  21. Kellsey permalink
    September 21, 2010 9:16 am

    Thank you for being so honest Dimity.

    You can add me to the misery loves company list. Torn MCL, 7 weeks out and can see the light at the end of my personal pity party tunnel. Many, many miles swam with the pull buoy, now rockin the elliptical and stationary bike. Soon spin class. Skiing, pain and worry-free this winter is my real goal. Then two maybe three tris next summer on my to do list.

    The hip and back pain caused by the brace/peg leg walking is certainly the worst side effect for me. RLAM book and blog has been awesome motivation during this time. This post in particular I know I’m not alone, and that means the world!

    Thanks again ladies and Dim, healing and strong thoughts to all.

  22. September 21, 2010 6:35 pm

    When I was in my (dreaded) boot I found the pain caused by being lop-sided all the time was unbearable. I finally went to the flip flop section of Target and bought some platform flip flops. They were ugly as dirt, but at least they balanced my boot height.

    I can’t say that I feel your pain, because thankfully the marathon gods have been good to me this go-round, but I can say, I’ve felt your pain, and I have compassion for you during this time of misery. If you need to whine, I recommend whine without “h”… wait, off track… I think what I intended to say there was, if you need to whine, we’re all here for you listening and supporting you.


  23. September 21, 2010 7:02 pm


    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I needed to read this. I truly did. I was in a boot the last half of last year. I’ve gone eight months this year and the pain is starting to rear its ugly head again. I really needed to read this. I may just start listening to my body and take some time… That is after my first half on Sunday.

  24. September 22, 2010 8:58 am

    Man oh Man, stinks that you are suffering with this injury! I hope you recover quickly and think you will with your new game plan!! Show that foot the LOVE!!!!

  25. Katie permalink
    September 22, 2010 12:54 pm

    Oh Dimity! I mean this in the strictly platonic, one sulker to another kind of way but : I love you! I enjoyed the book so much because of the “realness” of the writing and now I enjoy the blog for the same reason. No “I’m Superwoman” around here just real women and I love it!

  26. Gwen permalink
    September 24, 2010 4:29 pm

    Sorry to hear about your injury but I have some nice looking legs…Also loving the boots…thanks to you for the tip on barefoot tess…I too can now put my large feet into some cool looking shoes too. One last thing…what have you done to help your hip? I’ve had a nagging hip injury that has bothered me since starting to run a year ago…and I get so frustrated with it. The doc says nothing is wrong but it still hurts. Maybe you could share you tips/exercises you do to help it.

    Hoping for a speedy recovery for you!!!

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