This week completes six weeks of not running and six weeks out. Twelve weeks ago, on March 1, I got my calcaneus stress fracture. In the coming weeks, life completely changed but not because of my broken foot. Sometimes it felt trivial to talk about a broken foot when the world was a mess. Honestly, it’s gone by fast. I haven’t seen some friends since I had a broken foot and it feels as though March, April, and most of May have gone by quickly.
If you’re new to the blog, I got a calcaneus stress fracture on March 1 at the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Race. Getting a calcaneus stress fracture is atypical for me because I don’t run on my heels. I’ve had stress fractures in the foot and ankle but they’ve been in the metatarsals. I run in a way that loads my toes and they are more prone to injury.
My doctors and I assumed that my calcaneus stress fracture came from a tight and overworked Achilles. Fractures of the calcaneus are not always weight bearing injuries and often times can be from a tight Achilles pulling at the calcaneus. The doctor even said they can be confused with plantar fasciitis! Anyway, once I had a diagnosis and a “why”, it felt easier to recover.
I never felt pain during the race, but the moment I stopped running, I knew something was wrong in my heel. Afrer that, I felt heel pain when trying to run at all. I noticed heel pain all of the time when I was walking, sitting, or living life. Before getting any imaging tests and MRI, my doctors and I assumed I had torn or ruptured a muscle. An MRI Scan confirmed I had a calcaneus stress fracture. I wore the boot, and like any stress fracture was prescribed: “if it hurts, don’t do it.” I originally went to the pool more, but when the pools and gyms closed because of COVID-19, I did nothing.
After six weeks of no running, my calcaneal stress fracture healed. When I started running again, it was the easiest return to running post-injury I’ve had. While I had an aggressive gradual return, like with any stress fracture I’ve been monitoring the injured foot. The first 2 weeks were a lot of walk-running, followed by full running. I haven’t had pain and if I did, I would take extra time off. I realize I’ve had an easy recovery from this particular injury and I am so thankful for that. I’ve had much more long term injuries that I spent too many hours crying about.
I haven’t had any residual soreness or pain while running, but I still wake up occasionally and think: “will today be the day.” I’m like that with any injury, though.
I don’t really classify myself in the “injured” category anymore. I’ve run a virtual race and I’m consistently running again. I’m nowhere near “being in shape,” but I haven’t been in shape since 2018.
Finally, unrelated to anything, but even after having a calcaneus stress fracture and seeing the word calcaneus for 12 weeks, I still can’t seem to spell it.
Calceanous Injury Timeline:
March 1: Calcaneus Stress Fracture Occurs (Known as the Heel Bone)
Week 1: (March 2-8): Boot, slight pain, and swelling, allowed to swim
Week 2: (March 9-15): Boot, minimal pain, minor swelling, allowed to swim
Week 3: (March 16-22): Boot, no pain or swelling, gyms closed, and almost 0 activity
Week 4: (March 23-29): Boot, no pain, added core
Week 5: (March 30th-April 5): Boot removed, no pain, core, and leisurely walks
Week 6: (April 6th-April 12th): easy walks, 1.5-mile walk-run, core
Week 7: (April 13-April 19): 1.5-2 mile walk-runs, core (Total Walk-Run miles 13)
Week 8: (April 20-26) 2-4 mile walk-runs, core (Total Miles 24)
Week 9: April 27-May 3rd 4-5 mile runs, core (Total Miles 35)
Week 10: May 4- May 10 6-7 mile runs, Virtual 5k (20:53) (Total Miles 42)
Week 11: May 11-May 17 7 mile runs, Virtual 5k (21:15) (Total miles 49)
Weel 12: (May 18th-May 24th) 7-8 mile runs, +Biking, Virtual 5k 21:08
I felt as though I was feeling better than a 21:08 5k. It’s been hard for me to adjust to my “new normal speed.” While 21:XX 5ks are great for many people, I used to run consistently under 20 minutes and 20 minutes on a “bad day.” I know I’ll get back there eventually, which is the goal of this year.
So there you have it. I don’t think I classify myself in the injury category anymore. I’ve now been running as long as resting my calcaneus stress fracture. No wants or likes to be injured, but I’m also thankful I didn’t miss anything. Every race I signed up for was canceled or postponed.
Every injury is different and my calcaneus was no different. I’ve had stress fractures that take a couple of months to heal and this one that was healed in a matter of weeks. If you want to follow along with my training, I’m on Strava.
Posts from the Week:
New Balance Fuelcell TC Shoe Review
Returning to Running After Injury
Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. This week is all about how COVID-19 is affecting the running industry.
Questions for you:
Have you had a serious running injury?
Have you ever had a calcaneus stress fracture?
Have you ever had a DXA test? The first sign of low bone density (osteopenia) should never be a fracture.
I have Eric! My bone imaging has always come back normal. My issue has been I front load my metatarsals with stress so have to be overly cautious about it.
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