Good Morning Friends and Happy Halloween!
I’m coming back from a long hiatus from the blog, which in some part goes hand in hand with my forced break from running. About 6 weeks ago I found out that I have a metatarsal stress fracture in my right foot, which resulted in my newest BFF, Betty the Boot. I’ll go into the entire story of Betty below, but the biggest lesson I have learned through this process is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!! I am actually pretty terrible at this, which has been reflected in my history of disordered eating as a teenager and adult, overtraining, stress, etc. We all have our own personal struggles and challenges, but this experience has definitely made me more aware of the incredible power of our bodies to tell us when something isn’t right. As I hopefully return to running (one of my biggest loves!) in a few weeks, I’ll need to work on this “listening to your body” business even more.
The Betty the Boot Story
Phase 1: Denial
It all started the week of September 12th…I had completed an awesome 20 miler a few weeks ago and was doing really well with my workouts, finally feeling like my plantar fasciitis was under control. But early that week I started to notice some pain in the mid-to-top portion of my right foot. I figured it was just sore, so I cut back on my runs. An easy 5 miler Tuesday of that week still hurt and it was bugging me on my walks to work. This should have been clue #1, because if walking hurts then running is not going to be good. I had a quick 5k planned for Thursday, my last day of work at BC. During the day on Thursday I was planning to skip the race, but I think a combination of emotions with leaving and other things going on in my life (aka lingering relationship feelings) made me just want to run.
So….I ran. And a mile and half in at about 6:50 pace I knew something was wrong.
Here is the place where listening to your body would mean…quit the race! A dinky 5k means nothing when you have big goals like a marathon. But my pride got in the way and I pushed through. This is something that we runners with. We are so used to pushing our bodies through pain, which often leads to great accomplishments (aka qualifying for Boston!). But this can also lead to injuries, of which I have had my fair share.
Following the race I knew something was seriously wrong. I hobbled home, put ice on my foot, and prayed that my PT would say it was just a stress reaction and I needed a week or so off. There was no way I would have to cancel Marine Corps or Philly…how could I be that unlucky?
Phase 2: Diagnosis
I woke up Friday morning with a very swollen foot that could not bear any weight. I had PT scheduled for that morning, so I figured I would see what Adam said and go from there. I limped my way to the office trying to keep the tears at bay and not think about the worst case scenario (STRESS FRACTURE!).
Adam took a look at my foot and was pretty confident I had a stress reaction. He massaged the area for a while and asked me some questions, but when he told me to walk and could see that the foot couldn’t even support my weight he was worried. I knew at that moment that Marine Corps was out and likely Philly as well. Ironically, Friday was also my day to register for Boston 2017, which luckily I got into! Silver linings 🙂
So with this information, I knew I needed to go to the hospital and confirm the diagnosis. My wonderful sister Kate drove over to pick me up and take me to Faulker Hospital where my podiatrist is. He ordered me an x-ray, which confirmed an actual stress fracture, not just a stress reaction. This is like a death sentence for a runner because it means absolutely no running for 6-8 weeks. So Kate and I made our way over to Orthopedics to pick up my Cam Walker Boot, which I affectionately named Betty.
Phase 3: Embracing the Break
I got home from the doctor and had a few hours before my mom was picking me up to go to the Cape for the Weekend. Sitting alone (with Lola and Louie nearby) I broke down. I cried out of anger for not pulling back when I felt something was off and for working so hard in PT and my training to have all of that derailed. I was able to defer the Marine Corps Marathon, but that was not an option for Philly…so I lost a few hundred dollars between fees for races. I also cried out of fear knowing that something I love so much, that has gotten me through pretty much every challenge in my life for the past 8 years, that has become a key part of my identity, would not be possible for 6-8 weeks!!!
After about 15 minutes of feeling really bad for myself I realized I had two choices. I could remain angry, frustrated, and negative for the next 8 weeks or I could use this time to recharge and invest energy in other things are equally as important. I know that running is something that brings me joy and connection, but at the end of the day it is just running. In focusing on distance and time goals I often forget how lucky I am to be able to run. To have a body that allows me to do something I love and that will recover and be stronger.
So I decided that Betty the Boot was going to be that annoying friend who tells you to get it together and refocus your priorities.
Phase 4: Moving Forward
Since getting Betty I have dug into my new job at Northeastern which is going really well! I love the challenge of a new environment and imagining new projects and ideas. Having a more creative professional space and new people to meet has definitely helped me stay positive. I have also been exercising as much as I can, doing some Beachbody workouts (which are actually pretty great and super convenient to do at home).
And over the past few weeks I could finally return to spin! I missed the high-intensity cardio so so much so this has been an absolute blessing. And as much as I miss running and addictively listen to my running podcasts, it has been pretty nice to give my body a rest.
I have so many fewer aches and tight spots, which also proves that I need to be better about recovery and cross-training down the road. I also started seeing this great guy, which has brought new joy into my daily routine. I cannot wait to get out there for some hikes and runs with him and prove that I’m not all talk as an athlete haha.
So all in all, this break has both sucked and been a gift. This is probably the longest I have gone without running in years, but I would never have given my body a true break without being forced. And while I am absolutely dying to get back out there and just jog at a snail’s pace, I also want to come back healthier and stronger both physically and mentally!