Spring Timeline of Minor Issues

I wanted to reflect upon my training since March and figure out how I got to this point in training.  The point of being burnt out, exhausted and injured. Hopefully, someone falling into the trap doesn’t land here too.  Yes, maybe this post reads more like a diary, but I do believe it’s beneficial for me to look back and reflect upon the roller coaster of 2016.

The Good Times:

carlsbad half
I started 2016 off with a bang.  In January, I PRed in both the 5k and half marathon.  I trained through February and PRed again at the Flower Show 5k.

I ran a disappointing race at Shamrock in March. It took both a mental and physical toll on my body.  I believe that was the beginning of my slow downward spiral. Since March, I’ve had a series of small injuries that caused me not to train consistently.  “It was always something.”

After Shamrock, I had a tight Glute Meade that pulled on my hamstring.   I felt overall tight, and it caused me to take about a week off from running.  After my muscles had loosened up, my training became more sporadic and less consistent.  Looking back, not training consistently caused more and more issues to arise.  I should have just taken an extended break then.  It would have prevented mental fatigue and minor aches to heal.

After running a great race at the Atlantic City half marathon, my right foot was sore.  My metatarsals hurt, and I thought I had another stress fracture in a metatarsal.  My right side doesn’t give me too many problems, but my foot hurt.  I took time off, and they found it was just soft tissue damage and pinched metatarsals.  I panicked “for nothing”.  After a week off and diving back into more haphazard training; I ran a few good races.broad street 10 miler 1

I ran Broad Street, the Newport 10k, and a mile in May. Diving quickly back into training wasn’t the best idea, and I found myself both mentally and physically exhausted.  After the mile, I decided to take a break. I didn’t have any ankle pain, but my legs were tired, and my mind was just as tired as well.

After taking a few days off, I decided to go for a run.  My legs had loosened up but something in my foot just “felt off”.  I couldn’t explain it, but my left foot didn’t feel right when running.  It was an ache more in my ankle.  It was enough to cause concern, so I just continued to rest.  I am relatively cautious, and anything feels off, I prefer to get looked at immediately, so I did.  This goes for pretty much anything, running related or not.

A few days later I got an X-ray and also got ART.  I was walking regularly, but something just felt off.  As I’ve mentioned before, the X-ray came out normally.  The doctors visually looked at my foot including pressing against each metatarsal, pushing against my navicular bone and squeezing my calcaneus.  They engaged with each bone, and I did the “hop test”.  All of which, I could do with no cause for alarm.

They also hit the tuning fork against my foot.  Nothing in my foot hurt, so it was somewhat motivating that my issue wasn’t bone related, and they ordered an MRI.

MRI foot
An MRI image of my foot

During the entire process of getting everything looked at, I didn’t miss running.  Maybe it was because I was mentally exhausted or maybe because I knew my foot felt off but I didn’t even have the interest to run.

The orthopedist thought I probably had an inflamed tendon or muscle in my foot.  Based on everything else, it made sense.  About three weeks after I decided to take the mental break, I received the results of my MRI.  I had a small hairline fracture on my fifth metatarsal closer to my ankle.

As I’ve mentioned, my initial thoughts were: how, why, what, did I do?

It was shocking considering I had run frequently on it before taking a mental break.  Since I was overall sore, tired and tight I think my foot aches were being overruled my overall body ache.

Even though the fracture probably happened sooner, we are considering the initial rest and recovery to start May 23.  It was the day I began taking my mental break.  Here I am, nearly one month later away from running.  It doesn’t feel like a month later, but I believe it was because I spent the first two weeks not knowing my body was even hurt.  I’m allowed to attempt a mile next Monday to see how it feels.  Since this injury hasn’t presented itself normally and I still don’t have many answers, I don’t know how the run will go.  If I feel anything even during the first step or two, I’m not going to continue.

Questions for you:

Have you had a mysterious injury or issue? 

What is the most fun cross training exercise you’ve done? 

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  1. Sorry your injury has been so mysterious. Ugh the body is so complicated sometimes. I love doing yoga or spin or even some fun cross-train group exercise classes when I can.

  2. YES!! A hairline fracture, just like you. I knew something was off and kept pressing my doctor for an MRI. I’m a Pilates girl for cross training. Hope you heal fast.

  3. Sorry for the physical and mental burnout! But glad you are taking the much deserved break. Craziest cross training exercise….drum roll…CrossFit. I’m not saying it’s for everyone. But the endurance and strength I developed doing CrossFit did wonders for my running. No more aches and pains. Just muscle soreness after a CrossFit work out.

    1. I’m glad you are enjoying Crossfit, that’s so interesting. I have been working on building strength as well lately!

  4. Again, I’m so sorry about your foot Hollie. I hope the run next Monday goes well!

    I had a stress fracture that came on mysteriously. I had my first stress fracture (2nd metatarsal on my left foot) in February 2014, which wasn’t surprising because I was running more mileage than I ever had before (~50 miles/week). I gave it the six weeks to heal and then spent all spring and summer 2014 running easy miles. I got back up to about 30 miles per week consistently. I took two weeks off at the end of the summer and then ran weeks of 10, 15, 20, 20 miles… and at the end of that fourth week got a stress fracture on my right 2nd metatarsal. It was so frustrating to have done everything right and still become injured. My doctor made me take the rest of 2014 off of running and that break (74 days) ended up being the longest break I took since I started running in 2012. I’m very thankful to have run an injury-free 2015 and hope to continue that trend!

  5. I’m lucky that I haven’t had any major injuries but last year I messed up my wrist, I think at gymnastics. It hasn’t been too bad but it’s uncomfortable to do things like planks (which sucks since that’s a big part of a lot of the exercises I enjoy!!) but luckily with rest it’s gotten better!

    I hope you continue to heal so you can get back to running!

  6. I am coming off a stress fracture in my right foot too. It was a frustrating injury. The very first day it felt off – just weird, I immediately went to my doc and got it looked at. He said I was not to worry, just sesamoid bone irritation, adjusted my orthotic insert and sent me off to run. I ran a big week of miles after that – and it wasn’t comfortable, but not bad either. After about 3 more weeks, I finally got someone to diagnose it as a stress fracture.

    I know you’ve mentioned in the past you have a rocky history with swimming haha. Swimming was how I did all my cross training. I rode the stationary bike some as well, but lap swimming is something I have NEVER done before, so it was harder for me and more interesting.

    Sending good thoughts that your foot heals up quickly.

  7. I’ve been wanting to try Stand Up Paddleboarding. But I live in Kansas and we have no water here, so unlikely that it’ll happen soon! I do the elliptical alot, partially due to accessibility. I like to go for walks with our dog too and sometimes my husband and I ride our bikes together which is always fun. Hopefully your mile run next week goes well! Fingers crossed!

  8. It’s so easy to fall into the “more! faster!” camp as athletes, especially in this digital age where we can see what everyone else is doing. (How accurate people are being, though, is a different discussion.) Being cautious, shutting things down, and consulting the professionals was absolutely the right thing to do. Sustaining an injury is never a good thing, but at least it made it easier to take a mental break from running.

  9. You got this, missy. I’m happy that you’re analyzing it, moving through it, working with it, and looking for acceptance among it. Keep going through your motions and prevention thoughts — it’ll lead to a great running experience once you’re all clear!

  10. Hollie, your honesty is so appreciated. Being injured is never an easy adjustment, whether it is a ‘welcome’ rest or not. Burnout happens and it’s better you don’t rush back into running before you are mentally and physically ready. I try to keep in mind that ‘running is always there for you’.

    I had a strained hip flexor from a bad yoga adjustment. It was weird though…because I didn’t feel a thing during class when I was being adjusted. I went for a run that afternoon and still didn’t feel a thing until I got back home and tried to get out of the car. I couldn’t even flex my hip!

    I love the usual biking and swimming as cross training…but I recently started heated barre classes and am completely addicted. So much fun!

  11. I really feel for you since this is definitely a mystery but, I think you just needed the break overall. We all get to that point in running at one time or another and the body and mind need a break…no pun intended 🙂 I’m so interested to see how that first run feels. I think it’s going to be GREAT!

  12. Wishing you a speedy recovery! I think looking back on the spring season as a whole was really smart. Sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day training and forget to step back and look at the bigger picture.

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