Injury Update

My last post pretty much explained my injury situation, but I’m writing an update because I received the official diagnosis when I visited the podiatrist last Friday. When the nurse asked what was wrong, I said I suspected I had a stress fracture in my fourth metatarsal. Unfortunately, that was totally accurate. I’ve heard that sometimes stress fractures don’t show in X-rays, but mine was pretty clear in one of them. My fears were confirmed – I’d be stuck in a boot. The doctor said I’ll probably need to wear it for a month, then maybe take a couple more weeks off before I try to run again.

2016-08-19 - boot

My stylin’ footwear for the next few weeks.

How’d I get here? I’m pretty sure compensating for one injury created a new one. When my right ankle locked up for a couple weeks after biking too hard, pain shot up my shin when I tried to run. I took time off and got that injury worked out, but I think that’s when the signs of the stress fracture started to appear. Before the ankle/shin pain was totally gone, I had a run where I got through the first mile okay, but my shin bugged me as I continued to run a couple more miles. The next day or two I noticed that the outside of my left foot was a little annoyed. After another run or two, it was a different story. I felt fine while running, but limped as soon as I finished. By compensating for the pain on my right side, I think I probably adjusted my form in a way that led to the stress fracture on my left side.

I probably had the fracture for a good three weeks before I made it in to see the doctor. During that time I had a pretty good idea what was going on and knew that I was going to be done with running for a while. Of course I’m bummed, but I saw it coming and came to accept it a few weeks ago. The boot makes things a bit awkward, but isn’t too bad for the most part. Stairs are difficult and I hobble around a bit, but at least I’m able to put my weight on it and still get around. I’m a bit concerned that the boot makes me a couple inches taller on my left side, and I wonder if it’s going to lead to hip pain or create other new issues.

I had a few brief throbbing pains when I first got the boot, probably because the straps compressed the injured area. That faded after a couple days. I took the boot off the other night and wore a slip-on shoe so I could go out in the rain and move my car quickly. Just bumping the top of my foot on the opening of the shoe was enough to leave me in pain the rest of the night. Aside from that, I really haven’t had any pain. Hopefully a month in this thing will be enough. One bonus is that I might also be able to take care of the plantar fasciitis in this foot once and for all.

I went through my training log from a couple years ago to reassure myself. When I was in a car accident in March of 2014, my back was so messed up I couldn’t do anything for a couple months. It took seven weeks before I attempted my first walk/run combo. I ran a couple times by the eighth week, and I was up to three times by the ninth week. I survived a couple months without running then and managed to bounce back, so I’m sure it will all work out again this time as well.

At this point I’m not really interested in trying to bike or do much of anything besides lift weights. I don’t want to do anything that will jeopardize my recovery. I want to get through this as quickly as I can!

We’re going to Vegas in a week and I’m not too excited to walk all over the place with this darn boot when it’s 100 degrees. To look on the positive side, I’ll be able to pack a lot lighter since I’ll have no need for four days’ worth of running gear!

I know injuries like these happen to runners all the time, so it was probably just a matter of time before I got to experience my first (and hopefully only?) stress fracture. To anyone who has been there before, please feel free to share if you have any advice for bouncing back!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz 

 

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This Summer’s Training (or lack thereof…)

It’s been a couple months since my last update, and I wish I could talk about how I’m starting week six of training for the Richmond Marathon right now. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone as planned and I haven’t had the solid summer of running that I’d hoped for.

After running the Bayshore Marathon at the end of May, I swore I would take a solid two weeks off of running even though I felt fine a couple days after the race. The plantar fasciitis issue that started in January still lingered, so it was a good time to see if rest would help. Nothing improved after the first week of rest so I ordered a splint to wear at night. Finally – my heel didn’t hurt in the morning anymore! I continued to roll with a tennis ball once or twice a day because the pain didn’t go away entirely, but at least I noticed some progress. During my post-marathon downtime, I took some walks, biked a little, and kept up with weight training at the gym. I was pretty anxious to run at the end of those two weeks, but I was pretty rusty the first week back. My legs certainly didn’t feel as fresh as I thought they might. It amazed me how hard four slow miles could feel after I’d just been able to run 26.

I got into a good groove after that first week, rebuilding my base mileage and eventually working in some short speed and tempo runs over the next couple weeks. I got back to running six days a week and felt good enough to sign up for a bunch of races. I’d been thinking about running the Richmond (VA) Marathon in mid-November and felt like I had bounced back enough to commit. I could fit a number of local races into the training schedule, including the Crim 10-miler at the end of August, the Brooksie Way half marathon in September, and the Grand Rapids half marathon in October.

Of course once I went on a spree signing up for races, things went bad. I was on vacation the first week of July and wanted to enjoy the weather on a day when I’d normally rest. I took the day off from running, but went for a fast 3-mile walk and rode the bike for about 45 minutes. I decided that I’m usually too slow on the bike and ought to push a bit faster. The next morning my right ankle/shin felt tweaky, but I’ve had that feeling before and didn’t worry about it. I felt fine during my 6-mile tempo run, but the tweaky feeling got worse later that day. Considering how much it hurt to walk, I decided to rest for a few days. My next attempt at running lasted a quarter mile before I quit due to pain that ran up my shin. After a week of pain, I went to my chiropractor who practices ART (active release techniques) to see what he thought. Luckily he didn’t think it was anything very serious. It seemed like my ankle joint was restricted and just wouldn’t unlock. A few appointments with him finally solved the problem, and after two weeks off, I finally ran again.

I had a couple of good 4-mile runs, but then started to have problems with my other foot. Are you kidding me?! ARGH. At first I thought it could be tied to the plantar fasciitis, which hadn’t bothered me much lately. I poked around a bit and realized I had a tender spot on the top of my foot coming down from my fourth toe. After taking a week off, I ran a few miles a couple times. I actually felt fine during the runs once I warmed up. However, as soon as I finished and started to walk, the pain left me limping. A few days of struggling to walk around work kept me from attempting another run. I realized a few days ago that the painful spot is actually swollen…not a good sign. I’m going to see a podiatrist at the end of this week and I’m scared that I’m going to end up in a walking boot!

I felt pretty down in the dumps during my two weeks off with the ankle/shin pain. I watched the first two weeks of my marathon training plan come and go without any runs. I knew that would set me back and I was depressed because all I wanted to do was run. Once this foot injury popped up, I kind of moved on past the depression into a stage of resignation. I’ve come to accept that I can’t run right now and I’m going to eat the cost and bail on some of these races. The Crim 10-mile race is in less than two weeks, and I know there’s no hope for that one right now. The Brooksie Way half marathon is in about five weeks, which doesn’t look too promising either. If I can start running again sometime soon, maybe I can drop down to the half marathon in Richmond. I don’t think the full is going to be an option at this point.

I’ve spent some time on the bike since it doesn’t flex my toes and set off the painful spot. Now that I’ve realized my foot is swollen, I think I’ll hold off on that too until I get to the doctor. Since I haven’t been able to do much else lately, I’ve been going to the gym more often. When I’m running higher mileage, I typically go once a week. Even going one extra time a week has helped me see some improvement, versus just staying in my usual maintenance mode. Still…all I want to do is run.

I’m very thankful that we’ve gotten back into our old concert-going habit lately because it’s been a good distraction. Matt and I used to go see bands all the time, but running kind of took over as our main hobby. In addition, we’ve gotten older and lazier about going out. That’s changed this summer as a steady stream of bands that we enjoy have come through town. We’ve seen great shows from Andrew McMahon, Weezer, Hollywood Vampires, Bryan Adams, Acceptance, Soul Asylum, Alice Cooper, A Great Big World, Matt Nathanson, and more. We have several more shows coming up soon, plus our first trip to Vegas in a few weeks. Since I can’t run, at least I have other fun stuff going on to cheer me up!

I know not being able to run is a pretty minor problem in the big picture, and most runners end up injured at some point. I guess it was just a matter of time. It’s not my intention to complain or fish for sympathy. I just wanted to write something to help me remember how disappointing this summer has been, and throw an update out there for anyone who might care!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz