Mile Markers: Stress Fracture

Mile Markers: Stress Fracture

So, I have a stress fracture on my third metatarsal and am in a boot. It is a really good thing that I dropped out of that half marathon when I did. 

The good news is that the bone stayed in place, hopefully making this a relatively quick and smooth recovery. I see an orthopedic in about a week and half. The doctor who diagnosed me estimated three weeks in a boot (no impact) and three weeks of low-impact, hopefully returning to running in about six weeks. 

Mile Markers: Stress Fracture

I didn’t used to have a good tolerance for pain, but I spent the past few years improving my ability to tolerate pain. Chronic pelvic pain prior to my surgery certainly did spur me on to work on my tolerance, but I also knew that the better I could tolerate pain, the faster I could race. Just when you’re happy with your pain tolerance, it works against you. I’d limp around the apartment and Ryan would ask how it felt, to which I’d reply “okay” despite clearly lacking full range of motion or the ability to bear weight. 

The pain had progressed to a point where I could barely walk properly. Honest to goodness, flexing and extending my foot caused as much pain as loading it. Taking the dogs down two flights of stairs elicited a decent amount of sharp pain. 

I realized that pain and swelling affecting my ability to walk warranted a visit to urgent care. (Something Ryan had suggested earlier, but I initially dismissed.) So I hobbled down the stairs and went to drive to the urgent care clinic… only to find that my trusty old Honda Pilot wouldn’t start because the battery had died. It’s just the timing of it happening exactly when I decide to visit urgent care. I waited until Ryan got home from work and we spent Tuesday evening in the urgent care. (And then jumpstarted my car.)

I took the entire week off of all exercise to jumpstart my recovery. Next week, I plan on easing in with swimming and Pilates. Once I see my orthopedist, I will start pool running. We just joined the local Y, which makes pool workouts much easier, and I bought a athletic swimsuit (on sale at Athleta, even!). 

This is my non-medical hypothesis as to why I got a stress fracture:

  • Stress! A cross-country move makes for a stressful several weeks, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that hindered my recovery rate. I should have scaled back on training.
  • Vitamin deficiency. I forgot to refill my magnesium supplements back in August or so. I also have not been supplementing calcium. I have hormonal problems and, as my mom reminded me this week, a family history of osteoporosis, so I need to take better care of my bone health.
  • Foot problems: Every single injury I have dealt with has been foot related. Ryan noticed me turning in my left foot (the broken one) on Saturday night, before the injury occurred. I have PT exercises I am supposed to do to strengthen my feet and correct this bad habit, but I neglected those exercises recently. I probably landed really funny on that foot of a while in training. 
  • Old running shoes: In the middle of the move, I forgot I needed to replace my Kinvaras. They were feeling a bit old, but I figured I’d just buy a new pair once we arrived. 
  • Shit happens. Most runners have experienced that you can do most things right and still end up with an injury. 

Mile Markers: Stress Fracture

Emotionally speaking, the stress fracture hasn’t been as devastating as I would have thought. I mean, I love running, but as long as the rest of life is okay, I can deal with a temporary injury. I had a bad race last weekend obviously, but then a bunch of my athletes had fantastic races this weekend  (Kelly, Lindsey, Jayme, Jess, Becky, and Pete) and that mattered more. I think out of anyone, Ollie is having the hardest time with this injury, since it limits his exercise. 

It’s a bit of a bummer to miss out on fall running, but hopefully I’ll be back at it by the time winter moves around. I really, really want to cross-country ski and snowshoe run now that we’re back in an area that gets snow. I’m also grateful I’m not trying to navigate snow and ice in this boot. 

I like to think of running through narratives, particularly the hero’s journey. The trials and challenges always come before the transformation. Shalane Flanagan dealt with a stress fracture before winning New York City. I’ve been knocked down a few times in the past couple years: a sprained and dislocated foot, laparoscopic surgery for pelvic pain, and now this stress fracture. But after that sprained foot, I qualified for Boston for the first time; after surgery, I had my strongest half marathon training cycle and race yet, with a 1:34 PR; so let’s see, all in due time, how I can grow from this. 

[Tweet “A complete week of rest to jumpstart stress fracture recovery via @thisrunrecipes #runchat”]

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19 Responses

  1. I’m so sorry to hear this, but it sounds like you have a really good perspective about it all. Knock on wood, a stress fracture is one injury I haven’t had to deal with. Swimming and pool running should really help you stay in shape! I hope you recovery quickly from this!

  2. I am so sorry to hear this Laura but you have the BEST (and right!) attitude!! Obviously your body (in particular, your foot) needs this break and it’s an opportunity for you to focus on other things and come back stronger. I loved how you closed this post with all the positives because that’s exactly where your head should be, even though I know it’s got to be hard! Here’s to a good recovery period and coming back stronger than ever!!

    1. Thank you! I am enjoying the break a bit – I miss running, but I can tell the down time is needed. Training for a race and moving at the same time was a bit too ambitious!

  3. I’m sorry to hear this but you’re right: You WILL come back from this stronger mentally and physically. So many of my friends have had sfx and have come back to running strong. While I’ve not had a sfx, I’ve done my share of deep water pool running and it is so effective. Hang in there!

  4. Oh no!! I’ve had a couple foot stress fractures and of course, PF. Pool running (deep water) has been my go-to while recovering. Our poor feet really take the brunt of it, don’t they?

    Hang in there! <3

  5. I’m so very sorry! I’ve been in your boot…literally. One of mine was also the third metatarsal. You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to justify the cause. Honestly, like you said. Shit happens. [According to my podiatrist, my excessively high arched feet are the culprit. And you can’t change that.] Pool running, like Wendy said, is great for keeping your running fitness. I did both that and cycling and was able to run a marathon 12 weeks after my first foot fracture. Hang in there! Bodies Heal. That has always been my injury mantra. Thanks for linking.

  6. So sorry to hear about your injury! It’s tough to be injured during one of the best seasons for running; an ankle sprain last fall put me out of commission for a couple of weeks. Plus, I didn’t rest it long enough, and I developed plantar fasciitis thanks to reduced mobility in that ankle (though thankfully I have a really great PT that helped me keep it mostly at bay during marathon training this year).

    I highly recommend checking out Jessie’s blog – She had a terrible ankle fracture last winter while training for the Antarctica marathon (much more severe than a stress fracture, unfortunately!) and she blogged all about her recovery process, part of which included swimming once enough her leg was healthy enough for it.

    1. Thank you! This is a tough time of year not to be out there, although I am grateful that it’s before the snow and ice of winter. I will have to check out that blog – thank you!

  7. Sorry to hear this Laura! This is the exact same injury I had right before I started working with you, and as you know, the year since has been my strongest yet, so I’m sure this will not hold you back for long!

  8. I’m sorry to hear this! i haven’t had a stress fracture but I’m currently dealing with a calf strain so I understand some of your frustration. I really like your comparison to all the good stuff you were able to accomplish after your past running breaks. It gives me hope that we’ll both come back stronger from our injuries!

  9. Such a bummer, but I’m glad you are handling it so well. The stress is really powerful, as you mentioned! Like you, I’ve had some of my best training cycles after a break from injury – it seems the body has to speak loudly to get our attention and that extra rest it wants!

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