The healthy streak has been broken. After about 13 years of injury-free competitive sports I now find myself on the sidelines doing what every athlete hates – watching practice.
The intense training regiment coupled with the world’s flattest feet was an equation for disaster, as I developed plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, and a stress fracture in my right heel. My supportive teammates have made light of the situation by calling me “platypus feet,” and unfortunately I cant really argue with them. The pain actually began November 2013 when the team was preparing for our final move to the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, there were major snow delays in construction, which forced us to continue our training indoors on sport court. There was really no pep talk imaginable that would have prepared my feet to train on such a hard surface so needless to say that’s where the problems began. The infrequent bliss I once found in snow fall as a Southern girl rapidly turned into despise when the fluffy white stuff continued to fall, and bought us a ticket across the country to train temporarily in San Diego, CA. Yes, the beautiful and sunny California where the turf is green and hard as a rock. Think of thinly laid green carpet on top of concrete and that will paint an accurate picture for you. The Olympic training center in Chula Vista is a wonderful place with incredible people, but the pounding I was about to give my feet made them say, “Just go. Go on without me.” Turns out it wasn’t only the pounding that caused such a strain on my feet. For an athlete of my caliber with a fairly successful career thus far, my running form has the ability to make every strength and conditioning coach cringe. Not to bore you, but I over stride when I run so my heel takes a complete beating every time I strike the ground rather than implementing the desired ball of foot contact. Here I am 10 months later with an injury that will only find full recovery once I am working a 9-5 desk job. It seems fitting that I am promoting a company that sells rubber base layers for turf fields to lessen the amount of pounding on the athlete’s body. Makes me wonder how healthy my body could actually be right now with the same amount of training these last 13 years, but with less strain and pounding on my feet and joints. That’s not a sales pitch, but a legitimate thing to think about. Anyways, I am back into full time training in 2 weeks and my head is up. I will additionally be working hard to change my engrained 24-year-old running form and rehabbing for a couple painful hours a day. Some would consider all of this as a sacrifice to play the sport I love, but I just consider them necessary investments towards my Olympic dreams in 2016.