Garlic’s Training Log 9.21.14

The plantar nerves.
The plantar nerves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I suffered a setback, and it’s a crappy one (not that there are any good ones).  On Monday after a 6-miler which included a bunch of 30-second hard efforts, the ball-of-foot tenderness I had in my left foot from a couple weeks ago came back.  Walking barefoot on the wood floor in my house, it felt like I had a marble in the ball of my foot between my third and forth metatarsals.  And that was when I realized my situation: a Morton’s neuroma.   For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a nerve between the third and fourth metatarsals, usually, that for a variety of reasons gets compressed and then inflamed, and then it scars up and you are left with a small tumor-like mass in the ball of your foot that can then become chronically inflamed and increasingly painful.  Even when it’s not angry, the scar tissue never goes away and is prone to re-aggravate and the only chance to be rid of it is surgery, which carries with it a 3-month recovery period and a 30% chance of recurrence.  To quote Salty, no bueno.

I experienced a range of emotions: sadness, frustration, self-pity.  I had thoughts like, “this is what you get for trying to train with a coach again,” and “this is what you get for thinking you might actually be able to accomplish something with your running.”  Tears were shed.  I tried to take heart from a quote I read on the internet:

Most of our obstacle are internal, not external. I began to embrace the obstacles and realize they are the way to success. Even the external obstacles change when you change internally first. No, it’s not easy and you always have to fight. But successful people do what others don’t. -Perry Nickelston, Stop Chasing Pain

So now I’m managing it.  I rested from running for two days, and my coach gave me a killer aqua running workout to do instead which made me feel optimistic about continuing to make fitness gains while I figure out what to do.  I made an appointment with my sports podiatrist for next week.  I combed through the threads on, and actually found some useful advice for dealing with this and I was able to calm it down enough that I could resume running after those two days of rest.  I bought Birkenstocks and toe stretchers.  I even did a pretty strong tempo run with my coach without any pain.  So that’s where I’m at.

Monday: 6 miles – 2 mile w/up, drills, strides; 6*30 sec pe 8.5 with full recovery.  It was after this run that my foot started acting up again.

Tuesday: 45 min strength and core

Wednesday: Aquarunning: 60 min, including 10 min w/up, 3*[10 min comfortably hard (pe 7.5) as 5 min traditional/5 min cross-country], 1 min recovery between sets

Thursday: 5.6 miles: 2 lap warm-up,  3 lapper at the B’line Res: 6:26, 13:12 (6:46), and 19:43 (6:31) for 2.85 miles and a 21:39 5K equivalent, 1 lap warmdown

Friday: 4.9 miles – 40 mins easy and 30 min strength

Saturday: 6.75 miles60 minutes – 10 warm-up and then 5 X 2 mins. at p.e. 7.5 with 1 min. recovery and then 5 X 1 min. p.e. 7.5, 1 min. recovery and then 4 X 30 seconds at a p.e. of 9 with a 1:30 recov. and then warmdown

Sunday: 60 min Strength and core

Mom of three kiddos and a black lab, running enthusiast, sports-med-doctor-in-training. I love the science and sport of running and all things related.

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  1. Hi – I’ve suffered with a neuroma in my right foot. Some things that I’ve found really helpful:

    1) running with a toe spacer between my 3rd and 4th toes. I use this one:

    2) selecting running shoes with a wider toebox, or relacing my shoes so that they don’t tighten the forefoot excessively.

    3) wearing correcttoes around the house

    I also had a prolotherapy injection into the neuroma 3 weeks ago – the neuroma has gotten significantly better after that (though obviously I was pretty sore for the first few days). I would try all of this stuff before going for surgery.

    1. Thanks so much for the tips. I have been wearing the toe spacers non-stop around the house, and it’s been very helpful, but I’ll definitely check out the spacer you’ve used with running. Is the prolotherapy injection a steroid injection? I was planning to ask my podiatrist about that, as truthfully I don’t think I’d go for the surgery even if it was my only option.

      1. Prolotherapy is essentially injecting dextrose (sugar water) into the area to provoke healing. Completely different theory from steroids – steroids act as anti-inflammatories; prolotherapy promotes inflammation.

        I was skeptical, but it does seem to have helped. I only took one day off after the injection, and raced a half-marathon nearly pain free 10 days later.

        1. Ok, I will definitely ask about that. Actually, a friend of mine had a PRP injection (which you’ve probably heard of – similar to what you’ve just described but it’s your own plasma that gets injected) for a hamstring injury and it worked wonders for her, too, so it doesn’t sound all that strange that this was successful for you. Thanks again for your suggestions – I already ordered the toe separator you recommended, and your story makes me very hopeful this won’t completely stop me in my tracks.

          1. Awesome! Thanks. Also interested to read about your pool running. The coach I’m training with now uses it all the time and has been teaching me to do it well (I’d done it before, but never really had formal instruction – what a difference). I’ve only done a couple workouts so far, but both kicked my butt!

    2. I second idea 2. They don’t have to be your only shoes, but swap them in every once in a while and see how it feels afterward.

      and idea 3: wear sandals the rest of the time.

  2. Oh friend, my stomach just sank when I read this. These “obstacles” are SO frustrating, and the mental battle is probably the hardest part of it. Hang in there, and here’s hoping the runs continue to be pain free. Glad you liked aqua jogging. I’m meeting my coach to try it tomorrow as well! I’m not a big fan of the water (read: barely can swim), but upon turning 40 and having All The Things flare up in the past 5 months, I think that’s going to have to change! 🙂

    1. Thanks Basil. It definitely helps that we can all share in our frustrations as well as our triumphs – so glad for all the Salty support at times like these!