I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. For almost a year, I've been slamming my feet into pavement for hours on end, so it's not too surprising that it looks as though I've suffered my first running injury. Thankfully it doesn't seem serious, but to be on the safe side I'm shutting it down for about a week and limiting myself to non-impact gym workouts.
Here's what happened, as far as I can tell.
Last Sunday, I went on my weekly "long run," which was eight miles at this stage of my training for the Long Beach Half Marathon coming up in October. Everything went as normal, I finished the run, did some light stretching, and went on about the day. No pain, nothing. The next morning I was also fine, aside from the usual soreness, but after lunch I noticed an increasing pain on the top of my left foot, to the point that I couldn't walk without a limp. I iced it that evening, and did some online amateur podiatrist-type diagnostics. My biggest fear was that I'd suffered a stress fracture, which would keep me out of action for around two months. The articles I read said that stress fractures are accompanied by redness, swelling and/or bruising. I had none of those symptoms, so I more or less eliminated that possibility. An interesting test for stress fractures, I learned, involves a tuning fork. Apparently, if you ring a tuning fork, touch it to the bones of your foot, and then erupt in a blood-curdling scream because your foot feels like it exploded, it means you have a stress fracture.
Alas, I do not own a tuning fork.
After icing the foot and elevating it overnight, the pain seemed to have disappeared on Tuesday. Relieved, I headed down to San Diego on a business trip, where I planned to get in a couple training runs in the evening. I love San Diego, and it's a great place to run. Well, midday on Wednesday, without warning, the pain returned. Not as bad as it had been on Monday, so I decided to go ahead and do a four-miler with a few of our teachers. It was gorgeous. Perfect weather, a well-paved bike path to the beach, and if you disregard the homeless camp where we saw an interesting "couple," it was a very nice run. Of course, running on a slight injury tends to make it a not-so-slight injury, so my foot was screaming the rest of the night. I took a few Advil, wrapped my foot in ice, and did some more free-lance doctoring.
I stumbled across something called "Plantar Fasciitis," which in addition to containing too many i's and sounding like a band of Communist farmers, is a pretty nasty foot injury that can sideline runners for weeks. But PI usually shows up in the heel, so I wasn't worried about that either.
Which brings us to foot extensor tendonitis. This is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles of the lower leg to the toes. Of everything I read, this seems like the most likely injury unless it's something more minor such as a tweaked foot muscle (that's the medical term). The treatment for most foot injuries is condensed into the acronym RICE which does not, unfortunately, stand for "rapid ice cream eating." What it does stand for is "Rest - Ice - Compression - Elevation." So that's what I've been doing. As I write this on Saturday, I have been pain-free for three days (I woke up Thursday without any pain and it hasn't returned). The temptation, of course, is to go ahead with my long run tomorrow and hope for the best. But I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to keep icing it, hit the gym, and not run again until Wednesday which will be a week since the last run.
Hoping for the best!