Two Words: Stress Fractures

This time last week, I was anticipating my next Saturday night. I’d imagined myself chowing down on some pasta and bread with some other runners, getting pre-marathon jitters and feeling excited and proud about completing my first marathon the next morning.

That’s all changed. As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I found out what was ailing me — stress fractures. That’s right – plural. All week I’d been having some pain in my left foot and even after icing and taking NSAIDs, it wouldn’t go away. There was a nagging feeling that something was wrong, so I took some people’s advice and headed to an orthopedic doctor who specializes in sports medicine.

I had X-Rays on Friday – my left foot and my left lower leg – and sure enough, I had not only stress fractures in my metatarsal, but a large stress fracture in my tibia. That pain that I assumed was shin splints? That was the stress fracture. That weird bump that was growing on my shin? That was my tibia bone, growing back onto itself. I left the doctor’s office wearing an air cast (or as the dr told me, “the most expensive boot I probably owned”), an appointment for an MRI and a strict order NOT to run the marathon for fear my tibia would break in half mid-race.

That’s right, TWO days before the race, I was told not to run. Seventeen weeks of training, hundreds of miles, including a twenty mile training run — and the race was off. I would be cheering on my husband, sister-in-law and friends from the sidelines.

I know that I shouldn’t feel so bad, but I can’t help but feel that all my training was for nothing. All those Friday nights I stayed in, all those Saturdays I spent pounding pavement — what was it for? Maybe next week I’ll be feeling a little better, but right now, instead of pre-race jitters I’m feeling disappointment, sadness and frustration.

Have you trained for a marathon or another race but been forced to back out a few days before? Have you had stress fractures (of course I have them in multiple places). How did you recover – how long did it take to get back in the saddle and start running again?

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5 thoughts on “Two Words: Stress Fractures

  1. Your training was not for nothing. Look back at all your other posts about training and how valuable it was and how excited you were! You’re healthier because of it (aside from the stress fractures) and it made you happy. Sure there was a price to pay, but, as they say, this too shall pass :)

    We have to keep the journey in mind. You learned so much these past few months training for this marathon – about your body, about your mind, about the paths you ran, about the people you met and/or got to know better because of your journey. And you inspired people during your journey! Your experiences are irreplaceable, and wasting time thinking about how it might have been a waste of time is a waste of time in itself.

    Try. Fail. Try again. Keep trucking :)

    • Also think about all the other runners you cheered on and whose lives you positively affected by your exuberance and intense understanding of their journey prior to and at the event.

      • Thanks! You also did a great job cheering. I’m trying to appreciate the journey as much as I can – but it would’ve been sweeter with that marathon medal!

    • Thanks Jeff! Looking back, I know it’s not all for nothing – I just hope that I’ll be able to take what I learn and set a new goal. It may be to run another marathon or it maybe a different goal – we’ll have to see!

  2. SO sorry to hear about your stress fractures. I would have been SO upset. I just ran my first marathon in April and was frustrated when I came down with a nasty cold the week before my race. The day before, I went through a whole box of tissues. Can’t really complain after hearing about your diagnosis. Here’s to a speedy recovery! Well wishes, Erin

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