I've been treading very carefully since mid August - sometimes more carefully than others. There were a couple of races that I shouldn't have done, for example. But I've been "listening to my body" which in reality means I've taken between 1 and 4 days off training whenever I've felt something hurting more than I thought it ought to. For example, after the 5 mile road race, I thought I felt some plantar faciitis lurking, so that was a session with Kyle Pepperman-Hacket (highly recommended) and 4 days of rolling the foot on spiked ball. And I've had many single day lay-offs to let tight calves recover.
So I'd say I'm pretty good at listening to my body - feeling those soft tissues straining, and reacting accordingly.
So, it was with dismay that I was hit with a stress fracture at the weekend. Actually, it was with a fair bit of swearing, but I made sure there were no kids around first.
The second metatarsal of my left foot has gone, and on Sat and Sun I was in a lot of pain.
Mrs. B. drove me to A&E, but as expected, nothing showed up. A stress fracture is too small to show on an x-ray, and it's not until the bleeding starts to calcify that anything will show up, which is about 2 weeks after the initial trauma. But the doctor, who seemed to know an awful lot about lower limb physiological matters, had a good poke, and based on my history, said that a stress fracture was most likely the problem. Ok, so I wasn't quite brave enough to tell her the whole story of the complete switch from the Kayano (Asics' most padded stability shoe) to the Vivobarefoot (3mm of very flexible rubber, absolutely no padding) in not much longer time than it took Amazon to deliver them, but I was honest about the training volume.
And that is the problem. It's too much pavement, on too thin a shoe, with too much gait change. Consider where I started from, as shown in these pictures. That's a lot to change in just 3 months. But it was going so well that I got carried away. I ran 29 days in November, and although that was an average of less than 5km per session, at an average pace of only 5:15/km, too much of it was on hard pavement. So I either needed to run less, or more off-road.
I'm just reading Kelly Holmes' autobiography, and this morning my eyes popped out when I got to the chapter about her stress fracture that she noticed on the flight over to the Atlanta Olympics. She writes:
... How I got the fracture I still can’t ‘be sure but it is possible that it was down to my footwear. I had changed sponsors halfway through the season after I had been offered my amazing four-year deal from Nike. I was so chuffed that the biggest sporting brand wanted to support me that I went for it. Instead of gradually changing over my running shoes so that my body had time to adjust to the new footwear, I just swapped my previous trainers for my new ones. Now I understand more about the intricacies of footwear and how careful one has to be...So here I am, 5 days after the bone gave way, and the pain is subsiding quite quickly. I shan't be running for a few weeks, but I'm not that down about it - I will get into some cross training (I'm going to the pool later today), and I've got another 15 months before my target race.