async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: Runner down

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Runner down


If you've been following me for any amount of time, either here or on Facebook, you know that I've been having significant left foot pain for quite some time. About a month ago, I was out for a 6 mile training run and must have landed funny on that foot, and experienced excruciating pain. I had to stop running and hobble home. At that point, I thought maybe I broke my big toe. But after icing and resting, the pain subsided to a dull ache. I was worried about an upcoming race that week, and decided to consult the sports medicine doctor at work. We talked about my history with that big toe, that I knew there was a bone spur in the 1st MPJ and maybe some arthritis. He cautioned me about running the race and gave me a prescription for Voltaren topical gel (an NSAID, much like ibuprofen) to apply to the joint as needed for pain.

As the week went on, I was able to run again, with minimal discomfort. There was some throbbing after I ran, so I used the Voltaren gel. But what actually hurt was walking. I found that odd, but continued to plan for my upcoming race. To my happiness and amazement, the race was a success, I actually ran a PR, and had no toe pain. I figured the joint was inflamed but since I was running so well, nothing serious was going on, and continued to train and plan for my upcoming half marathon, scheduled for May 18.

This runner isn't experiencing any pain!

The sports med doc stopped by my office after the race and asked how it went. When I told him, he shook his head in disbelief. He offered to inject the joint with a steroid the week before my half, but told me he wanted to do an xray, just to make sure nothing else was going on in the foot. I scheduled my appointment. During that visit, he took a history, did an exam, and reviewed the xray with me. He saw the bone spur and a mild effusion in the joint. Using ultrasound, he injected a steroid into the joint and sent me home.

A few hours later, he called me. Feeling that there was something unusual about my xray, he had reviewed the xray with the radiologist and found a healing fracture on the corner of the 1st MPJ. They figured the fracture was about a month old, which makes sense, considering when I had that painful run. He was kicking himself for giving me the injection without reviewing the xray more closely. We talked for a while, and he said that the steroid might prolong the healing process. Maybe not, he said, since the fracture was already healing. But he got strict with me and told me that he really wanted me to avoid weight bearing exercise for 2-3 weeks, at which point he would do another xray.

While the news didn't surprise me, I felt like I was going to cry. I went to my closet and pulled out the boot, which I had used 2 years ago for my previous stress fracture. I called my husband, who was much more surprised than me.

The fracture

The next day at work, the sports med doc came to see me. He pulled up my xray, and showed me the fracture. The bone spur was also there, and he thinks that may have led to the fracture. I called it a stress fracture and he emphasized that it was not a stress fracture. "This is a fracture," he said. Much more serious than a stress fracture. He outlined activities I could participate in to maintain fitness. No weight bearing exercise. I could bike and swim. I can do weight lifting and yoga, as long as it doesn't put pressure on the joint. I asked about bone density and he doesn't think that is an issue. We also talked about how odd it was that I was able to run pain free but experienced significant pain while walking. Mechanics, I guess. That heel striking finally paid off! I told him he would probably have to prescribe Prozac for me, and he laughed.

Think I'll take a pass on these babies!


While I'm trying to keep a sense of humor, I'm pretty sad about all this. I wonder why this is happening. I've been running for almost 25 years. Could it be the wear and tear of all the pounding on my feet? When minimalist running and Vibram Five Fingers became the thing a few years ago, I looked the other way. Stuck with my super-cushy Asics Gel Nimbus, which I have worn for years. I have had major issues with my feet ever since I ran the Chicago Marathon 3 years ago. At this point I seriously doubt that I have a marathon in my future. But what about the halfs I have planned for this year? Obviously, the one next week is out. But I have Zooma in August and was planning on the Naperville half for November. Since they are both a good couple of months away and apart, that may be ok. My goal of 4 for this year may not be achievable.

I've never been one to sit back and accept my limitations. In fact, I've been much more apt to push them. For the next 3 weeks, I'll have plenty of time to think about all this.

Have you ever been sidelined by a serious injury? What did you do to maintain your sanity?

10 comments :

  1. Bummed for you. But I've seen SO many runners, GREAT runners be sidelined by things like this and they come back stronger and faster than ever. Who knows? I love the Gel Nimbus. I think we need to drown your sorrows in some nice coffee.....plus I wanna give my new Starbucks Gold a workout.

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    1. I think coffee is a great idea. Let me know when and where!

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  2. Healing will give you a great chance to discover new activities as well. Perhaps yoga or another soothing body movement. Let your body heal. It has been really good to you and will be again! Keep us posted!

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    1. The last time this happened, 2 years ago, I bought a road bike. Ironically, I just got it tuned up! It is calling my name...going for a long ride this morning.

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  3. Poor you, I know it is only a half-joke when you tell the guy he's going to have to prescribe you Prozac instead, it's hard to give up that stress relief of your regular exercise! I'm glad you at least have a road bike and are willing to use it, I hope that helps you get through this time! As far as the injury, it could have happened at any age, I don't think it's any indication of you being 'too old' for your goals. You will be back out there.

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    1. You get me! I love it! Thanks so much for your kind words of support. I'll get through this...with lots of help from my running friends! :)

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  4. I am so bummed for you. However, you will come back from this. You are one of the strongest runner's I know. I have only been running 4 years and have been sidelined twice with injury. It has nothing to do with anything you did (OK, maybe running on a fracture is a little tough a$$). I know it's hard right now and I would do anything to take your pain away. Head up, Wendy. I'm here if you need me to take you out for a drink or just a friend to talk to.

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    1. You are such a good friend! After your marathon, I'll take you up on that drink offer!!! <3

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  5. What a bummer! A real fracture. Gah! You can even see it :( I hope it heals quickly so you can get back on with your training!

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    1. I know, right? Kind of freaky that I did that without a real accident...

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