Running on painful feet showed me what I was capable of

By: Esther Klein

“You are walking funny, Esther,” said my mother on a constant basis from when I was age 11.

I was finally brought to a podiatrist where I was told it was too late to correct the non-existent arches on my feet. I was told my feet were paper flat and I would suffer tremendous pain in my knees and back the majority of my life. Being the 11-year-old that I was, the amount of tears that I shed was immeasurable.

Shortly after, I began wearing orthotics. My doctor said that the arches on my feet will never be formed but these would minimalize the pain my joints would endure. They only fit into certain shoes, of course, so I was that girl wearing sneakers at all events.

I am 23-years old, I wear my orthotics every day, but on Jan. 29 I completed my eighth half-marathon, that being my fifth 21-km race in the Miami Marathon.

When I tell people the amount of pain my feet have put me through, I am asked why I keep running. The answer is always simple.

I began running at the age of 14. The idea of needing a good pair of sneakers and the outdoors seemed effortless. I began hitting my feet against the pavement and learned how rewarding it was.

What mostly appealed to me was the idea that running was a game against your mind. You could train months prior to the big race day, but if you stopped pushing yourself, you wouldn’t get anywhere past the first mile. It was a challenge and I instantly was addicted.

Pushing myself distances I never thought imaginable was such a refreshing feeling. Growing up, your teachers and parents always remind you that if you set your mind to something, it’s achievable. I experienced that with running. It was a form of physical activity that showed if I just believed in myself, I could journey through lengthy paths.  And that is when I decided to run my first half-marathon at the age of 15.

Since then, I have completed three 10-km races, eight half-marathons, one 30-km marathon, and participated in my first full marathon in October 2016.

Do my feet hinder my performance? I am not sure, because this is what I am used to. Do I suffer tremendous pain on a consent basis? No. But I would be lying if I told you I feel no pain at all. Every race my right knee stings with pain, and my back is knotted from top to bottom. But it is pain that goes away, and the feeling of completion overrides all the discomfort. The feeling of knowing your strength and willpower is what got you to that finish line.

Twelve years ago, my doctor had me believing that my body simply could not handle sports. But my love for running has shot past that. I continue to run to show myself what I am capable of.

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