Running the Broken Toe 50k after a Stress Fracture Recovery
Again, I want to thank Danny Dreyer for Chi Running and all that's followed. I've read his book cover to cover 3 times and it's about time to read it again.
Saturday, Nov. 5th, 2011 was a cool, beautiful day for the ORRRC Caesar's Creek Broken Toe 50K trail "race" in the Dayton, OH area.
Back in early June, I ran my first 50K event, only to find out later that my body sensing, ego monitoring, general awareness, etc were not quite where they should be. After the long run, I couldn't walk later that day. Only later did I figure out I did this on a fibial stress fracture. Ouch, and quite a setback. Ten weeks of healing was enough time to figure out all my errors, such as doing too much speed work at the end of long runs.
The Broken Toe 50K was appropriately named and I was concerned about doing this after that stress fracture. Several runners tumbled on the challenging mountain bike trails and several dropped.
At this recent 50K, I ran about 14 miles in minimalist trail shoes, then I ran about 13 miles in wide sized cross country racing flats and finally the last 4+ miles in huaraches (werrracheese). Just as in my long training run three weeks prior, I found that wearing the huaraches at the end resulted in less discomfort. Late in this 50K, the ball on my right foot was super "hot", very painful on each contact. Most of that went away with even less footwear! That discomfort has faded pretty quick, proving to be "productive discomfort". So, my slowish 8 hour run put me in 25th place of 35 finishers.
I've found that at this stage of my running "practice", I prefer to not wear a watch or any other electronics. The Chi Run focuses, the environment and people out there are more than enough to think about! My goals were modest for the 50K, finish without injury and have a good time. This was my 5th marathon this year, and 7th overall. The two ultras this year were important to me, as I wanted to advance this year to more trail running via minimalist/barefoot running on a 100% plant based diet while moving beyond the marathon. With the Chi Run technique, it's accomplished in spite of some strategic errors. It's worth noting that my 100% plant based diet since Dec. 2010, not only got me off cholesterol medicine, but gave me so much energy that my body's infrastructure simply wasn't ready for it all. Ironic that it played into getting a stress fracture!
One thing I'd add about the 4MM huaraches is that the design, or lack of, gives them a great feel. Once the cords are adjusted right, it feels like a thin strip of leather or rubber is floating underfoot. The design prompts me to better pick up my feet, rather than push off the ground as much. The Tarahumaran runners that so many of us learned about in Born To Run, have it right! Ancient style foot protection is great, so long as we adopt it very slowly.
I've noticed that most people tend to injure their right leg most frequently. In my case, I've found that I have less arch in my right foot and that leg has less strength than the left. And, in the past four years, I've broken the tibia and the fibia at the right ankle. Also, an odd thing happened to my Five Finger "toe" shoes. The second largest toe on the right wore a hole clear thru the vibram sole, which seems to be another symptom of the weaker right leg and foot, and must be related to the hot spot on the ball of the right foot I sometimes experience on long bike rides or long runs.
I'm open to suggestions on how to more quickly rehab this right leg and foot. For now, I'm hoping to run a 50 miler before considering the speed required for a Boston qualifier attempt.
During the recovery phase of the recent fracture, I continued to do the Chi loosening drills every morning. I've found another author who also was early to point out in the late 90's that LESS IS MORE regarding footwear. I've found value in the practical "E-cises" in Pete Egoscue's book, Pain Free. The runner specific and maintenance programs are good, as well as specific programs for all body areas.
Another great tool for all runners, particularly trail runners, is "The Bob, Calfmaster". All of these I'm using near daily with good results.
Lastly, Danny, thanks for being at the US AF Marathon Expo. I attended the Friday presentation and found it very useful. Your humor and relaxed approach to all this is wonderful. It's been an interesting couple of years, testing the ideas in Born To Run and finding it spot on.
- marathon racing,
- injury recovery,
- minimalist shoes,
- body looseners