Let’s face it, running in the heat of summer isn’t always fun. But, I’m finding the best way to get through the super sweaty, red faced, feeling like you can’t breathe well runs is to be thankful that I can run at all. It may sound cliche to be “thankful for the opportunity to do something that others can’t,” but I really feel that way. It really is a privilege to be able to lace up my sneakers and head out the door without any health worries! That isn’t to say that I haven’t found myself struggling here and there the past few weeks, though.
It seems as though every so often, my feet like to give me some trouble when it comes to running. A few weeks ago I noticed a little soreness right below my ankle bone towards my foot, but kept plodding along, simultaneously loving and hating my weekly workouts. The discomfort would come and go, usually disappearing within the first 10 minutes of running. After my birthday, I noticed the pain more frequently – both when I started a run, but also when I was just walking. This obviously put me on high alert, and I started icing like crazy, doing ankle and foot strength work, and taking my runs easy. I ran the Firecracker 4 miler Race on the 4th of July like I do every year nice and easy with Ashley, but then decided to take a little more time for my foot. After three full days off I got back to things two weeks ago, and had no problem completing all of my workouts. But then last week, it hurt during every workout, and afterwards as well. By the time my weekend long run came around, I only got through 8 of the scheduled 14-16 miles.
After struggling with this on and off discomfort for a little over two weeks, I decided it was time to go to a Podiatrist. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, and I didn’t know if the pain I was feeling was the “run through it and stick it out” kind of pain, or the “you need to stop immediately” pain… which is something I struggle with from time to time. So I called on Monday morning and was able to be seen that evening. Being the type of person that I am, my first thoughts were of the worst – I’d be in a boot, I wouldn’t be able to do the Disney Dumbo Double Dare, I’d have to drop down or out of the Richmond marathon… etc. I’m a really “glass is half full” kind of girl, if you couldn’t tell! But eventually I realized that no matter what they would or wouldn’t find if I went to the doctor, it was better than being in pain, potentially making things worse, and, no matter what it could always be worse. Of course when filling out the paperwork I made sure to mention that I am a runner (marathon training) and that I wanted to make sure I didn’t have a stress fracture (the dirty words of the running world). When the doctor came in he asked if I was training for my first marathon, to which I replied it would be my fourth. Apparently I can’t do math, though, because Richmond will actually be my fifth. But I digress.
We took some x-rays, the doctor poked and prodded all around my foot and ankle, moved it a bunch of different ways, and even had me walk and jog in place for him. I was really glad he took the time to ask me questions, listen to me, and do a thorough exam. The verdict? No stress fracture! But, I do have some weird stuff going on, that I wasn’t aware of at all. Apparently, my right (problem) leg is slightly shorter than my left. It also bows out a little bit when I walk, and my knees tilt in towards one another a bit when walking and resting (fondly referred to as knock-knees). No surprise to me, I have tight Achilles. Additionally, it looks like there may be some early signs of arthritis in the front of my tibia where it meets my talus (but he said that wasn’t a big deal). And the kicker? My tibia, talus, and lateral malleolus seem to love each other so much they kind of rest up against each other, not leaving much room for movement, which the doctor said looks like at one point I must have had an injury there that healed on its own and is likely the culprit of my pain. All in all, nothing major or super worrisome; which was a huge relief.
He gave me a cortisone shot (which apparently people don’t take well, because he was impressed with my “taking it like a champ”), a light brace to wear when I’m working out, and ordered me a pair of orthotics to try out in hopes of easing the pressure and correcting the way my feet fall when I run. Naturally he told me to stay away from flats, flip flops, and extremely high heels … so basically my entire shoe wardrobe. Of course I had to ask what it meant for my running, and it doesn’t seem like much. He told me to take it easy for a week or two, and to obviously continue icing and doing the stretch and strength exercises I’ve already been doing. So my plan is to take this entire week off, and do some short and slow runs next week with the orthotics to see how everything feels. I’m hoping this is just a one-time hiccup, and not something I’m going to have to deal with long-term and I’m definitely going to baby it and play it safe to make sure.
It amazes me how much running, something that I do for “fun” and is just an extra curricular activity in all reality, can make or break my mood so easily. When I was replaying all the different outcomes before going to the doctor yesterday, I couldn’t help but laugh at how devastated I knew I would be depending on the results. I just kept repeating to myself, “this is not your job. This is for fun. You will be able to run again at some point, no matter what. It’s FINE!” These kinds of bumps in the road make me realize that running really can be a lifestyle, and I’m so thankful that I’ve found something I can (usually) do on a regular basis, have so much passion for, and am basically obsessed with.
Anyone ever deal with ankle and/or foot injuries?
Have any good stretch or strength exercises I should be doing?