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"Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not."

Running injuries suck

Being injured is tough.

After my 50 mile training run a few weekends ago, I felt some “bruising” in my foot. Well, two runs later the feeling of bruising had evolved into full-fledged pain. I was reduced to limping. Running was out of the question – I felt like I had a huge tumour in my foot, and figured I’d broken a bone.

Saw a doctor eventually, after a few days. The pain had died down somewhat, but still felt bad. He figured “Metatarsalgia” or “Morton’s Neuroma”. One is a poorly defined “inflammation and pain in the metatarsal heads” and the other is a damaged nerve running between the metatarsals. Either way, it hurts.

So the doctor does what any doctor these days does: tells me to stay off it. Thanks, Doc. As I’m walking out he must have realized he did absolutely nothing for me, and perhaps felt shame as being useless to actually cure people of pain, and decided to fill out a requisition for an ultrasound and an MRI. Ha! An MRI. 10,000 people are waiting 6 months for an MRI for their brain tumours, an I’ve got a sore foot preventing me from running 100 km in a row. Something tells me it won’t be any time soon. He volunteers that I could get a private MRI for about $800. Uh, ok. Just to confirm that I’m injured? I think I already can confirm that, Doc.

Anyway, so it’s been over a week and I haven’t even heard back from the hospital for the ultrasound.

Going from running 16+ hours per week, during every single spare moment of your day, to running 0 hours per week… is rough. I basically laid on the couch in a very depressed funk for about 2 days. My entire summer / fall plan was completely ruined. My nerve damaged or fractured foot will never be able to withstand running 100’s of km. I would have to drop out of Leadville. No more going to Colorado to train. No more family crewing me for the race. What a bummer!

It was tough, especially because a normal injury (tendon / muscle tear) is something you know can get better. It happens all the time. Hell, you can even run through it. This kind of pain was something different, and awful.

After a few days though, I felt better. Not because I could run, but because who cares? There are a lot of other things I could do. I was getting excited to buy a road bike and start doing that, instead. Maybe I could go back to Martial Arts / BJJ / Krav Maga and beat some noobs up (and get beat up) for fun again? Perhaps I could simply work on my coding projects all day, make some money, even (God forbid!) work a bit more at my day job!

Ha, see? The mind, even one as weak as mine, is a resilient fellow.

So I took a whole week off. Used some ice and some Voltaren gel, although neither seem to help a whole lot..

After 7 days off I decided to test the foot. Did 5 km on the treadmill at like, 9 mph. That’s like a 6:17 min/km pace. I could feel my foot injury, but it wasn’t painful. So that was good.

For 3 days I ran 5 km per day on the treadmill, without incident. Some sensation of the injury, but no pain. Sometimes a bit sore afterwards, but again, no real pain. This week I upped to 6 km at 6 min/km. I’ll keep that up for the whole week and then dial it up again the week after. Hopefully it’s healing and I’m not just wasting time. That’s always the question: am I just putting off my return to full volume, or am I accelerating it??

The one good thing is that I have lots of time to work out after my runs, so I’ve been doing a bit more weights, working on my glutes, calves, etc. Hopefully I can come out of this stronger than I went in.

There’s a 100 km race on May 12th I was wanting to do, but shit… seems risky. Will probably give it a skip, unfortunately. Which means I won’t be doing any races all year except for Leadville. Assuming my foot holds out, and I make it.

So I’m bummed that I’m missing basically 1 full month (at best) of solid training, but who knows, maybe I needed the break anyway. Elite runners often run their best performances after an injury-induced downtime, so who knows. Maybe I’ll come back and PB my next 50 mile training run!

2 Comments

  1. I think I’m starting to get the same problem. How long did it take you to heal completely from the injury?

    • Mitch

      2012-07-16 at 2:22 pm

      After a full week completely off, I tested it out with easy running for a week, but it started hurting again. I took 4 more days off, then did 9 days of cross-training: hiking, elliptical & stair-master. Hiking (downhill) was pretty hard on the toes though. I’d avoid that. Finally, about a month after it happened, I did a full week of easy running (60 km) and then another bigger week (80 km) and the problem was pretty much gone. Then I got sick and took another 4 days off, so that probably helped!

      2 months after my initial injury though, I did a long trail run and could *still* feel some soreness in that foot. It was a huge run though (43 km, lots of up and down, very hard running). Since then though, it’s mostly gone. I run a lot more carefully now, especially on rocky downhills. Do *not* want to injure myself before my race.

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