Other than a few scrapes and bruises, I made it through swim sessions, 140ish miles of biking, and a wonderful 10 mile run (and a bunch of shorter ones). Really, I was feeling on top of the world and raring to go when I got home.
Okay, fine. I'll be honest. The truth was that I didn’t go because I didn’t want to hear my toe was broken and I really should be avoiding running for 6 weeks.
And my method seemed to work pretty well. At least until, when my foot was feeling better, I decided to test it on a treadmill over Easter weekend. This was a full two weeks later. That run felt pretty good, so I decided slow and steady would be fine. So the next day I tried another short run…and just about died.
Not really, of course - but whatever I did was too much and knocked me back almost right to where I started. I was limping again. My toe hurt. Even the ball of my foot hurt.
With my first race coming up (the 5k Race to End Homelessness…see two posts previous for my race report), I knew I needed to go to the Doctor. I now needed to know if the toe was broken because if it was, I knew I couldn't race on it. I also realized that I needed help figuring out the right way to get back to running.
Much to my absolute joy, the Doctor said the toe wasn’t broken. Instead, I’d strained a ligament in the toe. Verdict: It would take a while to heal fully, it would ache for a long time, but I could run on it. The doctor suggested taping the toe to another one (Buddy taping) – and just running on feel. If it was achy, fine. If it hurt – stop.
Now – 4 weeks since the Doctor visit, my toe is almost fully healed. I am still taping it (it is still tender at times so I know it’s not quite perfect yet), but I finally feel good enough to pick my running back up again. I proved that with the most recent 10k I did.
So what’s the verdict of this story?
- If you get injured – and it’s still bugging you after a few days (after generous amounts of RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) – go to the doctor. I was afraid of what I was going to hear (probably a very common issue with athletes), so I avoided it until I realized I had no choice. If I’d been told it was a ligament strain right from the get-go and had taped it right from the beginning, maybe I’d have recovered a bit faster (probably not much faster…but still).
- Be careful ramping back up – I thought I was going easy when I did a second run the day after testing my foot/toe the first time. Apparently, what I thought was easy was definitely not, since I got set back at least a week. After seeing the Doctor, I was smarter about it. I ran the 5k in Florida without a watch, knowing I’d stop or slow if I felt I needed to. The next two weeks, I only ran 3 days a week (which is my usual), and kept the pace very easy. I did one 10k run before my first 10k race, and it was at a very easy pace. I mentally went into the Yonge St. 10k with the belief I was using it as a test run. If I needed to go slower, then I would. After doing that successfully – I am only now stepping up my training by introducing longer runs and speed work. So, take the time you need to make sure you don’t hurt yourself again.
- Be willing to adjust your training plan - I have a bunch of races planned this year – from 5ks to a marathon and triathlons. After getting hurt, I realized it was better to take my April races easy – than to push hard and get re-injured. So I adjusted. I signed up for similar races in May, so I could use my April races for training/testing.
- Don't be a doorknob - Sure, you can be worried about “what if?” when you get hurt…but don’t let the worry keep you from finding out the truth about what’s wrong. It’s not the X-files. Better to get the truth and go on from there.
Similar to going to camp to learn triathlon techniques, when it comes to recovery from injury, I need to pay attention to the people who know best…and not Google Search (Of course I didn’t use that when I first injured myself…cough).