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.
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.
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.
Does anyone have any tips for swimming as cross-training?
Have you dealt with a stress fracture before?
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