I’m quite confident that Johnny Cash wasn’t talking about running when he penned “I Walk the Line” but he nailed it when he sang I’ll admit that I’m a fool for (running). I’m currently walking the line between fitness and foolish with a foot that just doesn’t quite want to get on board with this training cycle.
My general rule for aches and pains is to ask myself three questions:
- Have I had this pain before?
- Does it get better or worse with running?
- Is it changing my form?
With exception of broken bones or some serious injury, if a pain is new, goes away as I warm up and lets me run almost normally (as normally as I run with a post-op foot), I assume it’s volume related discomfort and carry on. Sometimes I’ll do an extra recovery day or tone down a workout but this has worked well for me over the years.
My current “niggle” is giving my injury approach a run for its money, however. When it started, it was just a little soreness across the top of my foot. As I’ve learned to run again after surgery, I’ve had some assorted foot pain as I got back up to mileage and figured out how to carry my foot. Given this, I assumed this too would pass. However, in the last week, the top of my foot has gone from a little uncomfortable to really fucking painful (that’s official doctor speak for 8/10 pain) on occasion, especially after hard efforts. Just when I’ve gotten to a point where I am thinking I need to take a day or two off, I’ll have a totally pain free run. For example, on Saturday, my foot was sore doing an hour of recovery running and I wasn’t hopeful about my Sunday long run. Naturally, I did 18 completely pain free miles on Sunday. Yesterday I could barely walk. Today it’s much better but still a little tender.
I’m pretty confident it’s a touch of tenosynovitis of the extensor tendons, the little guys who help lift your toes. With high arches and some hesitation on my surgery side that leaves me in dorsiflexion a little longer than desired, it’s not surprising that they got inflamed. They seem to be happier when I add an extra recovery day between efforts, tie my shoes loosely, add a little KT tape to help them out and ice after my runs.
Dealing with little injuries like this is always a thin line. As I said to a running partner this morning, if I had any suspicion that this was something more serious, I’d take time off. If I took an off day every time I felt sore or tweaky, however, I’d never get my mileage in. That’s the cruel fate of the distance runner; it’s a rare day when something doesn’t hurt or ache. In our house, the first few minutes of the day are spent creaking around, hanging on to the railing on the stairs while we warm up. I’m sure my neighbors who see me warm up and cool down would be surprised that I can run faster than 10 minute miles.
How do you triage little aches and pains? What’s your niggle of the week?