I had my follow up with Dr. Halstead, the doctor who diagnosed my stress fracture, this afternoon.
By the way, I have to mention how cool it is that one of the St. Louis Rams team doctors is treating me. He’s right there on their website, fourth from the top. That’s a fun little add on; I picked him because he’s a runner.
Anyway, this time he didn’t X-ray me, but he did feel my leg like he did the last time. I was a little sore in the same spot, but not as bad as before, and this time when I hopped on my right foot I felt no pain; previously that produced pain every time. So that’s a definite improvement.
I told him that right after I saw him a month ago I was having pain almost all the time, then the first week of December I had no pain, and now I’m having occasional pain. This of course made me think I was somehow being too active and ruining my leg. He reassured me that pain on and off as we heal is normal. I’m not making myself worse. If it becomes more regular rather than intermittent, I should call him, but seeing as it’s been 4 weeks out of the 6 it normally takes stress fractures to heal, this isn’t out of the ordinary.
I told him I did more walking than usual yesterday because we went to the Rams game and while I didn’t feel it then, I feel it today. He said it’s normal for pain to ebb and flow based on our activities the previous day. Time spent standing has an effect, something I haven’t been paying much attention to, but probably is affecting me.
Then we talked about what happens when I pass the 6 week point and am not feeling soreness. He recommends running half of what I used to do and adding a mile per run each week. He doesn’t subscribe to the “add 10% each week” line of thinking because math gets weird. I agree– a 3 mile run becomes 3.3. Even I don’t get that specific when tracking my runs.
Since my normal running during the week was 3, 3, and 5 mile runs, I’d do 1.5, 1.5, and 2.5 mile runs. Next week 2.5, 2.5, and 3.5. So miles can catch up quickly. This was a relief to me because it’s almost time for me to begin training for my next half, which is 4/6/14.
He agreed 12 weeks is plenty of time to train for a half marathon, even from my starting point. I’m basically doing a beginner’s running program and beginners can train in 12 weeks. Even if my long run started at only 1 mile, adding a mile each week gets me up to 12 by the end, just like normal. It seems scary because I’ve been totally off running for so long but it’s doable–I just need to change my mindset about this.
Once I’m running on a regular basis again, I should not run on consecutive days. I can mix in other exercise on the other days. I used to always run like this but abandoned this my last training cycle due to scheduling problems. Lesson learned.
I asked what pace I should run and he said whatever is comfortable–pace has nothing to do with this problem; only volume and (insufficient) rest do. I’m very curious to see what pace is comfortable after all this time.
When running pain should decrease quickly; brief pain is fine as you’re warming up. Pain should not stay dull in the background or get worse, which is what happened to me. If it does, I’m supposed to call him.
Then he examined my current shoes. He said the treads didn’t indicate any type of problem. He mentioned he doesn’t like hard inserts (which I’ve been using since 2011 due to slightly flat feet) because what runner wants to run on something hard? He said I can keep the inserts since I haven’t had any insert related problems, but suggested putting the hard insert under soft cushion of the shoe for a softer landing and to keep the insert from sliding.
I suppose the part of me that had visions of a miraculous 4 week recovery is disappointed, but mostly I’m relieved to hear I’m on target for training for my next race. It was especially nice to hear a medical professional who has had two stress fractures say that pain off and on is normal. There was a part of me that worried I’d somehow set my healing timetable back another 6 weeks.
My original timetable has me finishing 6 weeks on Christmas, so I’ll check in with myself then and see if I want to start running (or maybe just walking) or give it a little longer until the new year. Until then, I’ll continue with these guys.