The Temptation To Throw Money At A Problem

New shoes!

New shoes!

I run. Kindof a lot, actually. So the pain that I felt about seven weeks ago while a couple of miles into what should have been a 21-mile training run was more than just physical.

Physically, my foot hurt. It didn’t seem to be a cramp that was getting better as I went along, so I turned around and headed back home, finishing my run 16-miles early. I didn’t do much else, but I was limping by the end of the day and for the next couple of days. It was the opposite of fun.
When resting it for a few days didn’t seem to make it that much better, I scheduled an appointment with an orthopedist, who recommended that I take 4 weeks off running and switch to bicycling and swimming in the meantime.  That was when the emotional pain and withdrawal symptoms (of not being able to get the high of my choice – the runner’s high) began to set in.

Withdrawal Was Rough…

mostly because I can’t seem to find a good substitute for how running makes me feel.

Don’t get me wrong, I bike commute pretty much ALL THE TIME and really do enjoy it far more than driving. But heading out on a bike ride for the sole purpose of exercise isn’t really my idea of a good time. I find I just can’t zone out and relax on a bike (zone out while sharing the roads with objects that are weighed in “tons”?  Not this girl!) the same way that I can while running on the beach watching the dolphins play in the shallow water.

I can also swim – there’s no danger of me drowning in our pool (6 ft deep) or the gym’s pool (4 ft deep). But after surviving a near-drowning experience as a toddler, I’ve always had apprehension about having water covering my face. It’s something that I’ve worked on a lot in my life (failing “Beginner’s Swimming” three summers in a row was quite embarrassing as a kid and caused me to practice blowing bubbles in the bathtub in advance of my final – luckily successful – attempt at the class). So yes, I CAN swim. I’m slow and somehow incapable of coming out of a flip turn right side up. But I can swim, as mind-numbingly boring as it can be. It’s just not relaxing, either.

As It Turns Out, I AM A Runner

Over the years, I’ve hesitated to call myself a runner. Sure, I run. But no one was ever going to confuse me with Paula Radcliffe. So I wasn’t REALLY a runner.

But the withdrawal symptoms I get when I can’t run on a regular basis, have finally led me to conclude that (without a doubt) I am a runner.  And when a runner can’t run, you want the problem fixed. Immediately. (Almost) no matter what the cost.  And the costs really could have added up to so much more than I let them so far.

  • A doctor’s appointment one day earlier if I saw the doc at the hospital instead of the clinic? Ummm… not worth the additional couple hundred in additional copays if I went that route.
  • Specialty pain-relief compound medications that don’t have much insurance coverage and might cost a couple hundred dollars? I tried a topical NSAID first for a $35 copay.
  • How about fancy imaging studies? I’ve had two x-rays, and an MRI, but luckily didn’t go with the imaging place my doctor recommended where the MRI would have cost over $600, instead opting for the imaging center that was in my insurance network for a $125 copay.
  • Will buying a (dozen?) different pair of shoes help? How to decide which one when there are so many? So far I’ve bought and am trying out one pair of new shoes to the tune of $110. May end up with more over time.
  • How about gadgets that random folks from the internet seem to rave about, like Correct Toes? Worth the $60? Not so far, I think. But I did bookmark it. =/
  • And if running isn’t going to work, is there anything that can be done to make swimming less mind-numbingly boring and help me relax more? Like say, listening to audiobooks (like I do when I run). But that would require a waterproof iPod and waterproof earbuds to the tune of ~$200. I’d also likely need a swim cap and some sort of lap counter. Mr PoP is pushing me to buy all of this, but I’m holding off for now. Even if it makes swimming less boring, I don’t think the audiobooks would stop me from semi-hyperventilating while swimming with my face in the water (ie freestyle), so I’m not convinced this is a great answer.

Seven weeks after my injury, I’m slowly starting to run again (I’ll be ready for that BRK 5K, Mr 1500!), but trying to be careful not to overdo it. And looking at the foot-related out-flows over the past couple of months, I know a part of me was trying to throw money at my problem to make it go away (so far $393 in copays + shoes), but I think I did pretty well at fighting that.

While you can spend a LOT of money trying to fix your problem as soon as possible, the reality is that the one thing you can’t buy is TIME, or rather fast forwarding past the time it takes for healing to occur. And that can be the most frustrating part. Like driving extra miles to avoid sitting in a traffic jam, sometimes spending money in the meantime at least seems to feel like you’re doing SOMETHING instead of NOTHING.

And with all this, I have a renewed appreciation for Tom Petty. After all, the waiting is the hardest part.

In case that hasn’t stuck in your head yet, here you go.


Have you had any problems you were tempted to throw money at?  How did you respond to the temptation?

13 comments to The Temptation To Throw Money At A Problem

  • It’s always hard to know whether to spend money going to The doctor to have it checked out or to wait it out in hopes that it heals on I ts own. Whether you want to risk time or money. It seems like it usual my ends up being both.

  • I suppose now that I’m going to Omaha with you guys I should start training for the 5k. This gives me a really good reason to get out there and run, so thanks for the motivation. (it’ll also help me when soccer starts back up again!)
    Gwen recently posted..Z is for ZoningMy Profile

  • A Doctor friend once told me: “Unless it’s a life/death thing, in general you shouldn’t go to a doctor’s”. Now it’s up to you to decide if not being able to run for a short term is a life/death emergency for you 😛
    Stockbeard recently posted..The hidden Mustachian at my officeMy Profile

  • Ugh, I feel you on foot pain. I pulled a ligament or tendon (I forget) on the top of my foot at the end of last summer. It’s the one that helps pull your toes up, like when you do stairs and such. Super painful! I actually ran a 5k on it, because running wasn’t so horrible, but I spent a lot of time limping due to that decision.

    It took a few months, but I’m finally all healed up now. I haven’t started running again yet due to the ice, but I’m looking forward to warmer weather and the chance to train again. I’m a low-mileage runner, so I don’t get the highs as much, but I do enjoy a good 2-3 mile run or a 5k.

    I hope your foot heals up well for you and you figure out how to prevent a future issue. For me, I think the issue may have been not enough stretching, but I’m honestly not sure. I bought new insoles for my running shoes and hiking shoes. Do you use special insoles? I use superfeet, and they help a lot with the shin splint issues I used to have.
    Leah recently posted..The Evening RoutineMy Profile

    • Ooh, that does sound pretty painful! I had to miss a couple of races that I usually run due to my foot injury this season, which was disappointing.

      I use a little pad in my shoes called a metatarsal pad that helps my “foot knuckles” (are these the metatarsals? It’s been so long since freshman biology!) spread out. It definitely helps.

  • Bummer. This sounds like a lot of Trigators I knew from school: the hunger to train left everyone sidelined sooner or later. Have you tried yoga?
    Edifi recently posted..More Grocery Store AnticsMy Profile

    • What’s a trigator?

      I do get to yoga most Saturday mornings, and really enjoy it – but it’s not something that can replace running for me. I’m not very disciplined in my self practice and working around the studio’s schedule is very different from just putting on my shoes and heading out for a run any time of day.

  • I run pretty regularly though not as long or often as you. Last year I was really ramping things up, increasing my speed and my distance simultaneously. I ended up overdoing it and gave myself a nice bout of plantar fasciitis. So I had to shut my running down for a few months. Which was really tough. But now I’m back at it, and I’m not overdoing at all. Instead of bumping up my pace 0.1 MPH every week, I’m looking more at a month. So far it seems to be working great. So, yes, time is sometimes the biggest thing you need in order to get better, and you can’t buy time!
    Money Beagle recently posted..Battery Powered Device Not Working? Check The ContactsMy Profile

    • It’s so tough not to overdo it when you’re enjoying it so much, right? Glad you’ve recovered and I hope your running stays injury free!

  • When it comes to getting over an injury like that, time is worth more than money. Take it easy and don’t overdo till you’re sure it’s really healed. Foot pain is the pits!!!
    Funny about Money recently posted..Friday FrolicsMy Profile