December 3, 2012

Running, or Perhaps Not (With Update)

As I write this, it is 6:30 AM, and I am drinking a fairly mediocre cup of coffee (my fault, really). I am reading all of my usual internet things, one of which - the local newspaper - informs me that it is 65 degrees. Lest I am mistaken, I check the calendar, and see that it is, indeed, December. Instinctively, I'm happy, thinking how pleasant such a temperature, pre sun, will feel. I will run 7 or so miles before work, and feel so refreshed, so high, that people will think I must clearly have received chemical aid.

But there is the small matter of my right foot, somewhere around the 4th or 5th metatarsal, a small pain that becomes a big pain after attempting to run a block. This is not a new pain; it's been with me since Heartland, a race - being 50 miles and all - that might leave one with an injury or two. Still, I ran, because taking time off for minor pain is not something young people with the desire to race foolishly long distances do. And I suppose I fit that mold, having completed two 50 milers, two 50Ks, and two marathons in the last 13 months. So I ran, until it got worse, and then worse still, and then until I couldn't any more.

So if this is a metatarsal stress fracture - my amateur diagnosis - I won't feel cheated. It is a common injury among runners, with higher incidence among those who habitually go really far, and even more correlation with those who mid/forefoot strike. This is not to say I'll be pleased, of course, especially given that the weather has brought out so many more people than would normally be running this time of year. And there is also the matter, you know, of not running for weeks, or maybe even a couple months, that irks me. I don't hate cross training with ellipticals and weights, but after a while, it all feels rather pointless. Running, while fun for its own sake, feels like you're doing something, getting better and building fitness, all to cash in your earnings on race day. Gym work, as much as I might like it to, does not lend that same satisfaction.

But, life happens. And life, for one who decides to label themselves even a slightly serious runner, means getting hurt now and then. That inevitability makes this not so bad as it might be; you'd be naive to think injuries only happened to others. Still, there is some hope, which is perhaps why I'm writing this now. Perhaps I want some catharsis, hoping that some cognitive relief will trickle down to my foot.

We'll see. I've got a trip to the doctor today, to get a professional diagnosis. I'll update here with whatever information I get, because I'm going to pretend you're invested in this as well.


The thing about feet is that everything in there is pretty small, and so damage can be hard to see, when it exists, often due to some swelling. As this is the case with me, I didn't get a specific diagnosis, outside of confirming that nothing is completely snapped. Of course, I had figured this already, given that I can stand all day without any pain at all. So we're nowhere new, really, but I'm somewhat encouraged. Worst case? I'm out two months. Probably it's more like one month. It depends on the degree of the damage - or if there is any, really - once the doctors can get a clearer picture. In any case, I'll do my best to hold on to - and in some cases, build - my fitness in the interim.


  1. Your calm demeanor leading into this potential run stopping, temporarily at least, injury is far more adviseable than my usual freak outs when it happens to me. I hope you can retain this outlook should you actually be injured, but moreso I hope you are given the green light to run through it.

    1. We'll see where this goes, but regardless, I'll try to stay positive. At worst, I can get a little better core/hip/glute strength, and hopefully hold on to my cardiovascular base. My already crap speed will fall off a bit, but I should be able to build that back up, if my general fitness holds.

  2. I'm in the same boat brother but it's my knee. I've found success with yoga as a cross training, also has been helpful with my knee pain

    1. My brother loves yoga, as do several of my friends. These are all people whose opinions I value, and yet I just can't make the leap. For some reason I've always associated a "workout" with some sort of brutal hammering. Not that yoga can't be hard, of course, but it doesn't lend itself to the ADD among us.