Running Injury Update: Goodbye Deep Dark, Hello Hope!
Plantar Plate Tear Injury Running & Fitness

Running Injury Update: Goodbye Deep Dark, Hello Hope!

The good news? According to my doctor, “It’s very likely I’ll be able to run again.”

The bad news? Well, having to withdraw from January’s WDW Marathon Weekend Goofy Challenge could be considered bad news, but who cares? I’m oddly fine with this as long as I can run again. Not being able to start for another six (or more) weeks is also a bummer, but who cares? That’s okay with me as long as I can run again. It could also be considered bad news how I might need expensive custom orthotics, but again. Who cares? I’m fine with that as long as I can run again.

Are you sensing a theme?

Running Injury Update: Goodbe Deep Dark, Hello Hope!

The Joyful Miles blog, YouTube channel, podcast, and other sites provides general information about fitness, health, and related subjects based on our own experiences. We are not doctors, registered dietitians, or fitness experts. Our content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. When it comes to your health and fitness, do your research and consult your doctor.

The Update from Deep Dark to Now

See, I’ve had depression issues in the past which have caused me to spend years in what I call The Deep Dark Place. Every since I became injured after the Disneyland Half in September, I’ve been haunted by the fear of never being able to run again, which has put me once again in The Deep Dark Place.

In other words, I’ve been depressed as heck.

I’ve hinted at this in my Coping with a Running Injury post that I wrote on the day I was supposed to be running the Chicago Marathon, (which by the way, was a big mistake. Considering my mental state, I shouldn’t have stayed far away from a computer since it’s the same as writing drunk. But hey, you want raw emotion? I got ’em.)

And that’s how I’ve continued to feel from my doctor’s original diagnosis–seriously depressed over possibly having a Freiburg Infraction, based on my X-rays that showed a flattened head on my second metatarsal joint plus how it felt as though I were walking on a rock. After my doctor appointment, I immediately jumped online to do some research in hopes this wouldn’t sideline my running career for good.

The prognosis? Not great.

Most runners with this injury never fully returned to their original form and many required surgery.

Cue the Deep Dark Place.

I have to admit that this is part of the reason why I decided to walk the Ratatouille 10k and Wine & Dine Half Marathon in a boot, because if running was a thing of my past, I wanted to go out big.

Again. Big mistake. But we’ll get to that later.

Now, my doctor did suggest an MRI which would better pinpoint my exact diagnosis. This made me cringe. My husband and I both are self-employed, so we have a very high insurance deductible and we’d have to pay for the MRI out of pocket. After relaying this to my doctor, he said that because my conservative treatment would be the same regardless of whether or not I had a stress fracture or Freiburg Infraction: no running, walking boot, and rest, I could wait and see if there is any improvement first. Since an MRI would only give me peace of mind by having a precise diagnosis, I decided to hold off until later.

Again. Big mistake, probably the biggest one yet.

Two weeks after Wine & Dine, when I was still not feeling any improvement and Deep Dark had pulled me down to such a horrible state that I couldn’t write, couldn’t focus, or even keep up with other runners’ social media, I called and made an appointment for an MRI. The next available appointment was the day before Thanksgiving at 6:00 am.

I took it.

And by the way? Wow, I had no idea how loud they were.

At around 3:00 pm in the afternoon, I got a phone call from my doctor’s assistant with my initial results.

My heart instantly dropped to the floor.

I clutched the phone, sending another silent prayer to God and holding my breath, waiting for the news. Turns out? There were no indication of a Freiburg Infraction. Instead, she said there were, “indications of an injury that resulted in a tear of the attachment of the second plantar plate at the base of my second toe, as well as signs of bone marrow edema.” I know these are her words exactly because I made her repeat them three times due to my panicked state.

I have a partial plantar plate tear instead of an infraction? Is this better? Or worse?

After peppering her with questions, all of which revolved around whether I’d be able to run again, I made an appointment with my doctor for his complete analysis and recommended treatment. Thank God he had a slot open the day after Thanksgiving. Otherwise, Deep Dark might have pulled me under if I had to wait any longer.

Instead, I hopped back on the Google train and spent my evening researching plantar plate tears–how they affected runners, how long their recovery was, if they ever returned to true form, etc. Some cases were downright scary, with one gal’s toe horribly splayed because the ligament was not longer connected, a sign of a stage two tear.

Of course, this made me quickly inspect my toes.

No splaying, although my second toe is rather crooked. But so is my right foot’s, meaning I only have weird toe syndrome.

So I did my best to shake off Deep Dark for the holiday. After all, my boys were home from college and it’s rare for us all to be together. Thanks to an early Black Friday sale, I even took a leap of faith by purchasing myself a Garmin 235 in the prettiest frost blue to put underneath our Christmas tree … although it would be wise to keep it in its box for now.

First thing Friday morning? I was up and ready to see the doctor. I’ll spare you the drama. Long story short? He said that it’s very likely I’ll be able to run again.

I’m gonna repeat that.

It’s very likely I’ll be able to run again.

Thank you, thank you, Lord.

I mean, there’s no guarantees and I’m far from out of the woods, so while there is light at the end of my Deep Dark tunnel, it’s still dim. But you know what? I’m clinging to that dim light. Besides, my tear is micro and my foot’s flexibility is good, so surgery is very unlikely at this point. If I am still in pain after six weeks, however, he does recommend a Cortisone shot … which I’m not too sure about, to be honest with you.

Afterwards, I told him of my plan to do NOTHING on my foot–no working out, no excessive walking, giving my foot a nice, long break with me eating holiday cookies and not worrying about packing on a couple pounds. He busted this bubble, however, by saying I should continue with the stationary bike and upper body work, considering my desire to run at least some of the Princess Half Marathon in February. It will be hard enough getting my foot back in shape if the rest of me is out of shape as well.

He also recommended my continued use of the carbon graphite insert I had purchased from My Foot Shop, with a cushioning insert such as the green Super Feet as well a metatarsal foot pad. As for custom orthotics, if I find these are working, I could try custom orthotics.

So there you go. My complete update.

Where am I at now?

Well, I’m no longer allowing myself to wallow in Deep Dark … although some days I’m not always successful. But the MRI and correct diagnosis has thrown me a life preserver and I’m clinging to it with both arms, making myself believe that I will run again. I’ve been wearing my boot on days I need to be on my feet, like during last Sunday’s Raven’s Game, while shopping, and doing chores around the house. I’ve also restarted a fresh round of Power 90, upper body only with the cardio replaced with stationary bike work … although it is a struggle to stay motivated. Which isn’t good. But I’m trying.

After speaking to another injured runner, I also plan on going straight to the custom orthotics that will best protect my foot and give me the best chance of running without re-injuring myself. I’ve already been cheap with the MRI and look how that turned out?

Oh, and once my Garmin arrives?

I’m totally opening the box with the hope that my many mistakes haven’t stopped me from needing it. Speaking of which…

My Mistakes: Learn from me, Friends!

My biggest mistake was putting money ahead of peace of mind.

I’ve already established the fact that my mind hasn’t been all that peaceful this fall. Had I spent the money for an MRI from the get-go, I might have spared myself a ton of mental angst and Freiburg fears. I mean, seriously. It was dumb of me not to, right?

It’s okay to agree. It was dumb.

What was also potentially foolish was me not requesting to see orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle injuries. Instead, I called around the orthopedic offices in my area, telling them of my injury and taking the first available appointment. Now, I got lucky–one of my doctor’s specialties is foot and ankle surgeries. But if you become injured, please make sure you are seeing the right kind of doctor.

And now we get to my biggest mistake … one that is rather hard confessing.

I shouldn’t have walked the Ratatouille 10k and Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Yes, it was amazing and yes, I did survive … but at the risk of further damaging my foot. Sometimes runners become stubborn, thinking they are capable of anything they put their mind to with the belief that they are invincible. This is not always a bad thing. Perhaps this is why our breed is able to run full marathons and crazy ultras. But I am not invincible.

And I was stupid, recklessly chasing a medal instead of taking care of myself.

Jackey even warned me to be sure I was making the right choice because whatever money I had lost from backing out of the race would surely be less than incurring more medical fields. But I didn’t listen–something I regret now. I’m a running blogger, for goodness sakes, one who hopes to inspire others to lead healthy, fit lives. What kind of inspiration would I be if someone decided to walk a race injured because of me, only to damage themselves more?

Let’s face it. I got lucky. Someone else may not, which I’d feel horrible about.

So please. If you are injured and left with the choice to participate or sit out … please think twice. Talk to your doctor. Listen to your body instead of your stubborn runner’s heart. Be smart, because just like tomorrow, there’s always another race.

It’s because of this that I have wisely chosen to back out of the Goofy Challenge, although I will most likely be paying Deep Dark another visit on those mornings. But that’s okay. Rob has promised to keep me company and who knows? I might just fly down to Orlando to cheer for Megan and everyone else.

And when I say cheer, I mean BE THE BEST CHEERLEADER EVER!!!

As far as my registration, after sending runDisney a very polite email informing them about my injury … and hinting at my disappointment over their new no-deferral policy going into effect for a race I had already signed up for … they offered me a 25% refund, less Active fees, as a show of goodwill. The $91.25 will be in the form of a Disney gift card and at first, I was a little miffed considering I know others who were offered full refunds for reasons such as pregnancies, etc.

But you know what? They could have offered nothing, seeing as how in the fine print, I’m sure it’s written how they can change their policy at any time. So I took my lumps, said thanks, and accepted the offer.

No Goofy for me.

But … since Dopey 2018 is starting to look possible, I will be pulling out my wallet in February to register! And for the Princess Half Marathon as well, since that’s my baby. And the virtual 5k’s as well – I still regret skipping them last summer because the medals were adorable. Oh, and there’s many local races I want to try next year and OOOHHHH, Jackey, Megan, and I have joined up with a group of friends for the Cherry Blossum 10 Miler in April!

Yes, as you can see … I’m a little excited about the hope I’ll be able to run again. And once I do? I plan on using the #RunAllTheRaces mentality to the fullest. For now, I’m sticking with #RecoverRunRejoice – because that’s exactly what I intend on doing! Rejoice because running truly is a beautiful thing.

So please. Get out there and run for me today, okay? 🙂

Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger, vlogger, wife to an amazing guy for 26 years, mom of two wonderful boys, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that plus she can quote most lines from Talladega Nights. Shake and bake!

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  1. Oh my gosh, love this post and hung on every word. That kills me that you when through that anguish (mental and physical) for so long, but you’re right that as runners we push this off and make crazy decisions sometimes. Good call on delaying Goofy (see what I did there?) and I’m looking forward to many more race reports. Heck, I hope to see you at Princess and I’m thinking of Dopey in 2018 too! Sending you good thoughts and thanks for the great reminders.

  2. Mariusz says:

    Definitely praying for your healing to be quick and glad you will be able to run again.

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