Senior Product Designer

a RUN supreme

Exploring what it takes to become an ultra endurance athlete

Stress Fracture

This past week I was delivered a bombshell when I found out I have a stress fracture in my forth metatarsal (toe bone). It is considered hairline, and I think we’ve caught it early on, but it has certainly dampened my chances of being able to run my race scheduled only two weeks away. I am very sad that I may not be able to reach my goal of running an ultra before I turn thirty, and run the race that I have trained so hard for over the past several months (although I did run a 50k distance as a training run). But my first priority, above anything else, is to stay healthy and not exacerbate the problem any further. Unfortunately, the only way to cure a stress fracture (which is essentially a hairline crack in the bone) is to stay off of it altogether. Not good news when my race is only two weeks away. Let me say right off the top that this injury was not directly caused by my minimalist or barefoot endeavors. It is an overtraining issue, pure and simple. To which my podiatrist agrees. I simply ran too many miles, too soon and didn’t allow enough time for my bone structures and ligaments to build themselves up enough. One other possible correlation is that last summer I drastically changed my diet to pescetarian which may have left me with a bit of calcium and vitamin D deficiency which are essential for bone density and recovery. Dunno? I’m going to go ahead and supplement those to try and help my recovery along.

My attempts at this distance pretty closely mirror that of my time using the training site starting last spring. I initially was a shod runner but that led to shin-splints and I had to start all over again. Around the same time I found out about minimalist and barefoot running and chucked the shoes for good. Throughout my training I tried to adhere closely to the 10% rule that says you shouldn’t increase your weekly mileage more than 10% week-over-week to avoid overtraining. Month over month you can see a steep increase in my mileage starting last summer:

But since then it has been a very gradual stair-step increase in my weekly mileage, only topping out at a 58 mile week:

Gradually over the past week or two I had started to feel a slight amount of pain in my foot, but just shook it off as a pain from stepping on a rock the wrong way. Until this past Wednesday when I went out to run a 12 mile run and I couldn’t make it any further than 1.5 miles without being in pain. I quickly called to podiatrist to help assess the pain when he delivered the sad news on Friday.

At this point, I am in wait and see mode. I may or may not attempt the race on May 1st, but as previously mentioned, I really don’t want to push it and exacerbate the injury any further. With two young children at home, it is extremely difficult to stay off your feet altogether but I’ll do the best I can.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve dealt with shin-splints before but never a stress fracture. This is entirely new territory for me. More than anything though, running almost every day is now just part of my life, and to loose that seems to emotionally hurt the most.

Have you every had a stress fracture yourself? What did you do to get over it? Do you think supplementing calcium and vitamin D will help? Do you think trying to hobble through the race in two weeks will do more harm than good (given I completely rest in the meantime)?

Thanks all for your support and encouragement!