Sunday, April 30, 2006

Frustrating Foot Pain--continued

My stomach bug has passed. It totally sucked. Not only could I not eat, but my energy has been completely sapped. Finally went for a run last night on the treadmill. Went about 5 steps before the excruciating pain in my forefoot (metatarsals) brought me to a grinding halt. Went to bed completely frustrated, depressed, and freaked out.

I'm signed up for the Spring Sprint May 7, Bay to Breakers May 21, and the San Diego International Triathlon June 25. I really want to do these races. I'm just sick of being injured. Running is my favorite phase of triathlon. It's what I did before I got into triathlon. I don't mind working on the bike and swim more but I want to be able to enjoy my runs. I no longer feel strong when I run like I used to. I used to get into a zone and just float. I miss that. I want that again. I've done 2 1/2 marathons and there was a time I could figure out how to keep injuries at bay and actually get faster and stronger and build mileage. What is wrong with me? I'm 28 going on 60.

No, it's not my shoes. I've had them checked by 3 renowned running stores and a reputable physical therapist, and they all think they fit great. I only have problems when I change to a different brand, don't buy new shoes when the old ones wear out, or do too much too soon (remember that last one). The problem is, I have a very uncommon foot--narrow with high arches. The only shoes that do fit well may not allow enough support or cushioning when I land since people with high arches tend to be more rigid. I land on the balls of my feet b/c my mid-foot is just air. Thus, knee pain, hip pain, foot pain, etc.

I'm being proactive. I think I know myself well enough to figure some things out for myself. Here's the game plan:
Number 1: I probably need an orthotic to make my shoes fit perfectly to my foot and give me the arch support I need. Therefore, Number 2: I'm seeing a sports podiatrist. I have a few names that were recommended by tri club members in the area (fantastic resource), and I'm calling them up tomorrow. I just hope they can see me ASAP. Nice thing is that my insurance covers it so I don't have to worry about $. Number 3: I went to a running store today in the meantime to see if they could help. The running specialist at Road Runner Sports ( was actually very helpful. He analyzed the structure of my foot, watched the way I walk and run on a treadmill, evaluated the foot of my shoe, and pretty much confirmed that I needed an orthotic and needed a foot specialist (at least he was honest). In the meantime, he gave me an insert for arch support to see if that would help. I tried it out on the treadmill, and it helped. I was able to run slowly for 3 miles. However, I had to be very conservative and think about every step to avoid pain. Not so good. I'm asking for secondary injuries. I can't wait to see the specialist and get this fixed. Number 4: I know what the specialist will say, however. RICE--rest, ice, compression, elevation. Mainly rest (if it hurts, don't do it) and ice. Plus NSAIDs to reduce inflammation. Number 5: I'm maintaining fitness by focusing on swimming and biking. Plus I can still do weights (not lunges or squats though to be safe). In addition, I can do the ellipitical without pain so that can substitute for running in the meantime. Main thing is: when can I be up an running? Literally. I just have no patience. It's race season, and I'm sick of time off!

Why do I keep getting injured? I think I do know what's wrong with me, and I'm having a hard time actualizing it. This is only my 3rd season of triathlon. 2 seasons ago, when I jumped in, I was already in pretty good shape from running and going to the gym all the time. Hence, no injuries. 2nd season, I had to back way off b/c I was in the process of finishing up graduate school, interviewing for a postdoc, and getting ready to move out here (legitimate reasons). I maintained some fitness except for the last 2 months. After I got settled in San Diego, I underestimated my fitness level and tried to ramp it up too soon. I get so frustrated at how slowly it has taken me to get back up to where I was. But I've only returned to regular exercise since January. Moral of the takes time. I am doing too much too soon. I need to learn patience.


Gary Moller said...

You might like to have a troll throuhg my blog and the related website.

Loved reading your blog.

Wishing you a low pulse.


bunnygirl said...

The very best thing, of course, is to lay off it and let it heal. But since we're all impatient people...

Have you tried taping it? Get some pre-wrap. Around here you can get it at Walgreen's. Check around. Then get sport tape that's between 1" and 1.5" wide. I like "Coach" brand tape, but others are okay, too.

Wrap the foot in pre-wrap, making sure you cover the heel as well as the front part of the foot. Do a tape "anchor" that starts around the ball of the foot and hooks around the heel in a sort of U shape, ending up somewhere below your little toe. Then start adding strips of tape that go horizontally (toe to toe) across the bottom of the foot, making sure to tape back onto your "anchor." Then wrap the top in the same way. Make sure it's snug, but not so tight that you can't walk. It will take you a few tries to determine the best place to start and end your tape, how much tape to use, how tight, etc.

Once you've determined your best fit, wear your tape as much as you can, even to work if you have footwear options that allow it. You may even be able to run in it.

But this is what I did when I had tendonitis in my metatarsal tendons a few years ago, and it helped a lot. I did mega-mileage with tape!

Good luck, and let me know if you need more details!

Habeela said...

So frustrating! I can only imagine how you feel! Sounds like you've got a great game plan. Another thing you might consider is deep-water running. It's really great for building strength and helping with the endurance and it's completely non-impact. I'd be surprised if some pool in your area doesn't have a program for this.

On a positive note, by focusing on your biking and swimming you'll be a stronger triathlet overall at the end.

Mon said...

Ack! I don't have any advice. My worst injury is blisters. From walking! Lightweight! Hope you get some answers at the specialist though, that is awesome that insurance will cover it!

Cliff said...

You have a really good spirit. Keep it up.

Kewl Nitrox said...

Oh dear, can't be easy holding yourself back when everything (except the foot) is telling you to GO. Be patient and (dare I say it), pray? Will be praying with you.

Kewl Nitrox said...

Oh and nice pictures from the Devil Dogs race. Have you considered using clip-on aero bars?

William said...

I also suffer from horrible pain in my right ball joint of my big toe.

I believe it is Osteo Arthritis and caused by an acute episode (or two) of hallux limitus, where the joint was damaged.

I have high rigid arches and need shoes like the Brooks Beast and the Mizuno Wave Alchemy 3's (not the new 5's). I need shoes that have a rocker bottom to alleviate the bending of the great tow beyond 60%.

This is a really sucky thing. I like you come from running as a primary sport and tri added onto that.

Rachel said...

Bunny Girl--I'll have to try wrapping my foot. That's a good idea.

Kewl Nitrox--I thought about clip-ons. But that changes the entire geometry of the bike. I'm not sure if I want to go there.

Herbert said...

Hope your foot gets better soon.