One of the first thing shoe guys in running stores will tell you is to break in a new pair of shoes before you go too far in them. I always laughed at this advice. If the shoe is the right one for your foot, you should be able to go out and run as far as you need to the second you break them out of the box. And for years, without incident, I ran blister free in not just new shoes but all shoes. Yes, I lost the regular toenail during high mileage phases and during marathons I’d always pick up something around my toes but all these were pretty inconsequential.
That is why I was fairly shocked last Monday when about five miles into my run in Huntington State Park I felt the winging burn of a blister in my arch. Though I’d planned on running for two hours, I decided to cut things short rather than get into serious trouble. And by the time I got home and removed my sock, I had a quarter size hot spot of tender raised skin. A pin and a Kleenex and the pressure was temporarily relieved but the pain has remained, sending a sharp reminder with every step: running is costing me something.
I can take the pain. Yesterday, I ran seventeen miles with it. It didn’t change my stride, it didn’t change my enjoyment of the exercise. All it did was give me one more challenge to deal with.
For a long time, I used to get really frustrated when I’d have a setback with my running. An injury could send me into a tailspin as I helplessly watched hours of fitness slip away and chose to mope rather than find alternatives to keeping in shape. If I couldn’t run, there was no reason to do anything, I felt.
But I’m an old man now. My hair is almost all gray and luckily I spend more time thinking about other people than I do about me. The most valuable thing I’ve learned along the way is that there is always going to be something standing in the way of what I want to do. It might be a blister, a sore hamstring or a massive workload. Whatever “it” is on that given day, some form of “it” will always be there. I can let it stop me or figure a way around it.
About two decades ago, I used to get a real bang out of these SNL bits called “Deep Thoughts” by Jack Handey. Reading this over, reminds me a bit of those pieces…
“Challenges are like a pus filled blister. You can let them keep you on the couch. Or you can stick a pin in them, lose the pus and get on with life. Free the pus!