Last fall after an incredible 2014 racing year Lauren Penney hit the pavement again at the Manchester Road Race where she finished second and improved over 30 seconds on that course. Shortly after that race Lauren ended up having pain in her foot that end up being a stress reaction. Along the way she remained steadfast to her goals and her cross-training. Figuratively speaking, despite being knocked down a second time, she picked herself up and fought like the champion that she is...Now she is back to running dreaming big for Rio 2016.
Five months ago I was writing about how happy I was to return to running after a calcaneal stress reaction that knocked me out of the indoor season. It was the result of a very tight plantar fascia pulling on the bone, but by February the bone had healed and I was back on my feet. Things were great! I quickly got back into shape and was working out pretty well. We planned out my races for the spring season and though I knew I still needed to work hard at keeping my plantar fascia loose, the injury seemed like a small speed bump that I quickly got over.
I started the spring season with a time trial: two miles of the 5k at Princeton’s Larry Ellis Invitational with a couple of NJNY teammates. I felt like I was ready to go for a big 5k at Payton Jordan two weeks later. Unfortunately, about a mile into the Payton Jordan 5k my foot started to hurt more than it had in any workout I had done since I started training again. I tried to push through for a couple more laps, but I could tell something was wrong. For the first time in my running career, I walked off the track before finishing.
That decision was heartbreaking. I spent the rest of my weekend in California wondering if I did the right thing or if I was being a wimp. And then that Monday I got an MRI that showed a partial tear of the plantar fascia. I saw Dr. John Connors that week, and he gave me some options like continuing to run with pain and getting shockwave to try and manage it, injections, or a plantar fascia release. He told me the bottom line was that my plantar was far too tight and needed to be lengthened. In my mind, running for the rest of the season and managing the pain was not worth it. I’m not running my best that way and being healthy this time next year means so much more to me. With the help of Dr. Connors, my coaches, family, fiancé, and teammates (both NJNY and Oiselle), I made the decision to have my plantar fascia released.
My surgery was done on May 20th and I am thrilled to say that recovery has been nothing but smooth. I was in a cast, non-weight-bearing, on crutches for the first week, partial-weight-bearing and in a boot for the second week, then just in a boot for two more weeks. Just three weeks after surgery I was working out on my trusty pink spin bike again and working with NJNY teammate Stephanie Charnigno for PT. A couple weeks ago I added the Alter-G to my spinning, and just this past week I started running on solid ground!
If I had it my way, injuries would never happen and I would be able to run and compete all the time (can’t say I know any runner, or any athlete, who would disagree). However, I will say I was blessed with timing. Not only do I have all fall to take my time building up to be super strong for the 2016 season, but I’ve also been home to work on wedding plans (yay!! coming up fast this month) when I normally would have been traveling to meets. As organized as I try to be, wedding planning is crazy busy! So I’m trying to think of all of this as a small blessing in disguise. With our big day coming up, everything is really starting to come together and we are very happy and excited to start our lives (running included ;) together).