The last time I was able to string together more than two weeks of focused, high mileage training, there was still snow on the ground. And the way things are looking, there will be snow yet again by the time I’m back to logging anything close to marathon training mileage.
It started with a tibial tendon strain in March that turned my plans for a June marathon into a 4 miler. I worked up the courage to race a half marathon in July, even though I felt undertrained for the distance, and wound up with nagging hip pain that would just not go away. I began seeing a physical therapist whose first order of business was to severely limit my mileage and put a kabash on any speed training. Last week, after a magical session of dry needling, I finally felt 100%. He gave me the clear to run a few miles at marathon pace and continue to add distance to my “long” run (currently topping out at 9 miles).
Last Wednesday, I ran the first few miles of my marathon pace run, and felt amazing, strong and unstoppable. That is, until mile three when I began feeling the sharp shooting pain in the top of my foot with every push off. I immediately recognized the signs of extensor tendinitis, and stopped to loosen my laces. As this was my first speedier run in my orthotics, my theory was that the sustained speed had changed the way my shoe and laces hit my foot. And I knew from past experience that extensor tendinitis can be no big deal. I’d continued to run through it before, as the pain during running was limited and didn’t change my gait. I finished the run, iced the foot and hoped for the best.
I was still feeling some discomfort on Thursday, so I skipped the prescribed run and did yoga instead. I congratulated myself for being smart not to push it by trying to run. But the truth was, I was banking on my long run on Friday going perfectly. A day off should be plenty, right? My heart wasn’t willing to entertain the option of another day off. So when I woke up on Friday feeling a bit better (not 100%), I iced, switched to a new pair of shoes (with lydiard lacing) and went for it.
I decided to turn around at the 2.5 mile mark, hopeful I could just do 5 and try for 9 this weekend. Around mile 4, I started walking. I iced my foot and massaged my shins when I got home, but it only got worse. A few hours later, I was hobbling. And now, two days later, it’s still a major pain in the foot to walk.
I’ve been dunking my foot in a bucket of ice regularly for the past two days. As I sit there freezing my toes off, I typically take the time to google All The Things. I’ve read the horror stories of extensor tendinitis taking forever to heal. I’ve read the stories of it being short lived and running through it. I’ve read all about aqua jogging, and think I may actually be desperate enough to get into a pool. (Anyone have an aqua jogging belt to lend me?)
I am determined, DETERMINED I tell you, to stay positive about this. I am beyond frustrated and am thinking a good old fashioned ugly cry is probably in order; but once that’s done, I am going to make a list of all the ways this can make me stronger. And then I’m going to get stronger.
I often tell my kids when they are moping around like entitled little punks that “whatever you focus on gets bigger.” They can either focus on how they only get 30 minutes of screen time on Saturdays or they can think about how lucky they are to have a gorgeous day of sunshine to ride their bikes and good friends to play with. You can focus on what you don’t have and that feeling of scarcity/ not having enough will grow. Or you can focus on what you do have and the feelings of gratitude will grow. This is true for me as well. If I focus on the “injury” and how limiting it will be in these final weeks of fall running before dealing with snow and cold, I will sink into a pit of despair. But if I focus on the fact that I made it into Boston (woohooo!) and that I still have almost 7 months to get healthy and prepare for it, I feel hopeful and thankful. There is plenty of time! I just need to make the most of what life has handed me. And if that means a couple weeks off (or more–if that’s what it takes!), so be it.
(Aside: I still can’t take the quotes off for top of foot/ toe pain caused by shoe laces–it’s just the stupidest “injury” ever!)
I am still hopeful that with icing and rest, this will be just a blip on the training log. Time will tell!
Total mileage for the week – 15 miles (Unfortunately, the principle of “whatever you focus on gets bigger” doesn’t apply when it comes to weekly mileage. Blergh!)