It seems like every time you find yourself in a "happy" place, something comes along and knocks you back down a few pegs. This happens in life and in sport to people all the time. Typically, we just call them "bad days" and move on. But the kind of roadblock I am now faced with isn't as much of a quick, move on type.
After a really solid return to training, my workouts were going perfectly, with each one bringing me more confidence about the remainder of this year's season and what that may mean. But something felt a bit "off" in the last 5 days. Typically, some extra attention in the form of massage or stretching gets these things to go away in a matter of a day or two, but when it didn't, I started to get a little concerned. In this case, it was some pretty severe pain and a loss of mobility in my big toe. As a result, I immediately made an appointment to see a podiatrist.
A brief side note here - if your insurance has good coverage, I think it is always in your best interest to have a professional take a look at things EVEN if they start to get better. Self treatment is always the first line of defense, but seeing a professional as soon as possible can nip something in the bud before it gets worse (and give you a second opinion) and can also prevent you from doing too many stupid things that could lengthen any potential recovery time needed.
So I went to the podiatrist to have a look and see what might have been going on down there. I had a few ideas in mind, but I want the professional to diagnose me first before I start telling them what I think is wrong. At least for me, I find it a learning process to either confirm my knowledge or an opportunity to gain further insight into injuries. Afterall, the more you know, the larger your toolkit.
After a series of X-rays and taking a detailed look, the likely issue is a chip fracture. Based on my X-rays, the chip fracture occurred off of a bone spur in my 1st metatarsal. Chip fractures can occur for any number of reasons - typically though, it is associated with a traumatic event, like slamming your foot into the door. In my case though, there was nothing traumatic. Notice that this is NOT a stress fracture, which can occur due to over-use, bone strength deficiency, and a weak support system among other things. It just happened by chance, which is part of the frustration of it all. As diligent as I am about my mobility and strengthening exercises, I am forced to accept that - This. Just. Happened. And it is what it is and there wasn't really anything I could have done to prevent it.
My initial thoughts before going to the doctor were that I either had some severe tendinitis down there, or something was broken, so I pretty much got it right on with the diagnosis. Of course, I was hoping for a tendinitis diagnosis.
Reebok Pumps from the early 90s with that big air pump on the top to add some compression to keep my foot stable.
However, there is some slightly positive news - because of the location where the fracture occurred, I can still ride a bicycle as long as I am clipped in and not using toe straps. So while the running fitness may slide a bit, my overall fitness hopefully won't slip much at all. In fact, I went for a pain free ride yesterday afternoon for about an hour just to see how things would feel. I was a bit worried that my toe would move a lot, but it didn't at all.
So that's the latest roadblock. As always, I use these situations as further motivation to continue living an endurance lifestyle. In the grand scheme of things, this is only a minor bump along the road. I have learned quite a bit already about myself as a result of this latest visit to the doctor, but this post is getting long enough already, so I'll save that for a future one and spare you the time ;)