The main problem ongoing here has been that my feet have been pure misery. Bad arches and rather thick feet and ankles contributed to the problem. Well, trying the skates at home (plastic guards to protect floor and blades from each other of course) I could concentrate on what’s going on. I found that with one pair of my orthotics in place there was a pressure point right behind the balls of my feet where the pain was concentrated. Ah Hah! Said I. The shape of the boot and the orthotic conspired to cause the end of the orthotic dig into my foot there. So I took out the orthotic and just used a gel insole, carefully trimmed to match the insole that came with the boot. With that my whole foot hurt with most of the pain running along the inside edge of the arch.
This led me to sit down and think. Remember what I just said about thick feet and ankles? The laces that came with the skates (108″) weren’t really long enough, even the longer laces (120″) I’d bought at the rink pro shop weren’t. I had to crank them down really tight through the instep to have enough lace to get even the first three of the speed laces (hooks) which I needed for ankle support.
So I went to the store and got two pair of 72″ laces. I tied two laces together (twice) giving me 140″ laces. And ta dah! I was able to keep them just snug over my instep and get up all four pairs of speed laces. I still got some foot pain, bad arches aren’t magically going away, but it was manageable .
Tried it out on the ice tonight. So much better. Did eight laps–a personal best–with only a couple of short breaks to relieve foot pain. At the end it was fatigue, catching toe picks on the ice and the like, which told me it was time to stop.
That was yesterday. Today I had class. And while I still had to take frequent short breaks to take my weight off my feet and let the pain subside, it was nowhere near as bad as it had been before. As a result I was able to spend more time on the ice and made quite a bit of progress today. In particular, my balance was better and I was able to start working on one foot glides. The one foot glides were short, only a couple of seconds each, but they represent a major step forward from where I was before.
And when I was done, I realized that I felt really, really good. The difficulty, the challenge, made that little bit of success all the sweeter. It’s been hours (as of this writing) since class and I’m still feeling a bit euphoric from it.
As I had said in a previous post, it really does pay off to face something difficult, seemingly insurmountable at the start, and then keep at it until you succeed. The more difficult the challenge, and to a great extent the more painful it is along the way, the greater the rewards of final success.
This does not mean beating your head mindlessly against the problem. As I did here, you have to think things through, figure out what’s getting in the way of your progress, what you can do to make it better and then do it. Sometimes what you need really is to just keep throwing yourself at the problem. But sometimes it means a step back, a reassessment, and a change of direction–like in the above figuring out the specifics of why my feet hurt so much. There are still some improvements that I think can be made (and losing weight is one of them–simply reducing the stress on my feet from supporting my rather large frame could make a significant difference) but I am doing better and can expect to continue to do better going forward.