Beating a Stress Fracture

I want to apologize in advance for this lengthy blog, but being the first one of the year/ first blog EVER, I kind of felt the need to give you a little background on my current running status and what I’ve been doing for the past few months….

If you look at my 2012 training logs, the mileage may appear to be very low.  This because I am currently nursing a stress fracture of the second metatarsal of my right foot.  According to the AAOS, or the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, it is the most common stress fracture in runners.  The diagram below shows exactly where my stress fracture is located.

Now, you might be wondering how I encountered such an injury and as much as I hate to say it, but OVER TRAINING coupled with BAREFOOT RUNNING is what caused my stress fracture.

Let me rewind a bit and take you back to the start of last years summer just before I began training for the 2011 Chicago Marathon.  Prior to training, I dabbled with barefoot running using the Merrell Trail Glove as my weapon of choice.  I immediately noticed the Pros of Running Barefoot such as correcting my form, eliminating my shin splints, strengthening my lower leg muscles and lowering my times.  It took me a while to build up to these results because I was taking it extremely slow increasing my mileage slightly every week to eventually 3 miles a day.

But when I decided to commit to Chicago, I didn’t think I could up the Mileage fast enough to be ready for the marathon.  So I ditched the barefoot shoes and began training in the most minimal cushioned shoes i could find.  My weapons of choice, the Brooks Green Silence and T7 Racer.  I immediately jumped on the advanced Hansons-Brooks marathon training plan and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line of my first full marathon on Oct. 9th, 2011.  time: 3:43:03

After the Marathon, I gave myself about 3-4 weeks rest and then set out on a few low mileage runs. However, I began to obsess over speed.  I started running stairs, hills, and doing low mileage interval workouts, anything I could do to lower my time.  I remembered how great it felt running in the barefoot shoes so I dug them out of the closet and began training in them again. All was good and at the beginning of November so I signed up for a Thanksgiving Day 5k run.

About the second week of November and after running in the Barefoot Merrell’s for about a week and a half, I noticed a sharp pain on the top of my right foot.  Not thinking it was anything serious, I iced it down that night and set out on another run the following day.  It began hurting again, but hoping it would just go away, I ran through the pain.  After several days of running, the pain was more intense and the area of swelling was getting larger.  Thats when I knew something was up…. I did some research and realized there was a good chance I had a stress fracture. Being the competitive/stubborn person I am, I trained with the pain and was determined to get my fastest time on Turkey Day, which I did.  I ran the race in 20 minutes flat and spent the rest of the day drinking beer and resting my foot.

After a few days of rest, I set out on another run…..which I did not complete because the pain was getting too intense.  It was hurting even when I walked and was very sensitive to the touch. The days of not listening to my aching foot were over and I made an appointment with the Foot Doctor.  I was x-rayed and the outcome was exactly what I suspected, a hairline fracture of the second metatarsal.  The Doctor told me not to run on it for at least 3-4 weeks and to ONLY wear cushioned shoes.

Although I stopped running, I didn’t stop training completely out of fear that I would lose the foundation that I had spent the past year building. Also, I found some added motivation to heal my foot after being accepted to the Brooks ID program.  I resorted to low impact activities such as biking, plyometrics, and other strength training exercises.  I began to look at my diet as a factor and noticed that because I tend to stay away from dairy products, I probably wasn’t getting a sufficient amount of calcium or vitamin D.  After reading a few product reviews, I decided taking  the bone density supplement Ultra Bone Up by Jarrow.

After about 10 days without running, I didn’t feel pain when I walked anymore and after about 3.5 weeks I went for a half mile test run.  I felt no pain while I was running, but did feel some soreness after the run.  After a few days of rest, I went out for another short run and got the same outcome.  Determined to keep running, I made sure that if I ran, I rested the following day.  One on, one off… for a week, to eventually two days on, 2 days off while slightly increasing the mileage every 2 day period.  This is reflected in my 2012 training log if you want to check it out.

As of today, 2 months after noticing the fracture, I am running pain free but am still not 100% confident in my foot yet.  I will probably continue this pace through the end of the month and switch to a higher mileage regiment next month to ensure that my injury is properly healed.  I am planning on competing at a very high level this year in several races.   My goal for the year is to use my time at the Rock N Roll marathon in Savannah GA to qualify for Boston!  Now that you’re up to speed, I promise that my future blogs will be 5ks compared to this Ultra-Marathon….Thanks for bearing with me and as always,

Happy running!

-Michael

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One response to “Beating a Stress Fracture

  • Robin

    Take care of yourself. Glad your foot is feeling better. I have hip flexor tendonitis and while it was feeling great for the past month, I have a flare up going on right now post-marathon. Hoping for some pain-free running in the near future.

    Welcome to Brooks ID!

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