Stress fracture. These 2 words can cause a runner’s spine to tingle. Most of us have either had a stress fracture or know someone who has had a stress fracture. The most common place for stress fractures are the foot. The most common site is the second and third metatarsal bones. Other sites include the heel, the navicular bone (top of the midfoot), and the fibula (outer bone of lower leg). The most common cause of stress fractures are overuse, weakening of the bones also known as osteoporosis, poor foot wear, and the female athletic triad to name a few. There are other causes but these are common risks for women.
This is my third stress fracture in the past year. Each fracture has been in a different place. Both of my feet have been injured. I have thought about my recent stress fractures at length. I know the pain started at mile 25 of the marathon. I have reviewed that final mile over and over in my head. Did I step wrong? Did something happen earlier in the race. Was my foot already broken and I made it worse? I keep a running journal and I don’t make any reference to the site where my fracture has occurred. I talk about my toe hurting and the plantar fasciitis at length. A common cause of a stress fracture other than overuse is change of gait. Did I change my gait without realizing it? I don’t think so. I believe the cause of my recurrent stress fracture is bone loss. I asked a fellow colleague who is an orthopedic surgeon to review my x-ray. He told me matter of factly that I have bone loss. We discussed my mileage and activity and he did not feel it was excessive. We discussed the recommendation for running.
So what is the female athletic triad? The female athletic triad is a combination of energy deficiency with or without eating disorder (poor nutrition), infrequent or absent menstrual cycle, and bone loss. When I think about this model, I always think of the high school distance runner. She is young, thin, and active. What I failed to think about was, how do I fit this model. I fit all three of these categories.
1. I am an older runner who fertility days are far behind me and therefore have absent menstrual cycles. Ok let me just say it. I am in Menopause. It is so hard to say that one word. It makes me feel old. I therefore have estrogen deficiency due to this. Decreased estrogen can lead to bone loss.
2. I don’t have an eating disorder but I am always on a diet. I am always trying to lose that last 10 pounds. My diet is quite poor and that’s why I’m always on a diet. My favorite meal is hamburger and french fries. Calcium is not in my diet. Maybe once a week if I treat myself to ice cream. Hence poor nutrition.
3. Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones is a risk for stress fractures. Risk factors include age, menopause, female, low body weight, and smoking. Bones need both calcium and Vitamin D to help prevent osteoporosis. I slather sunblock on my body when I run. Bones need both calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to the skin’s exposure to sunlight. It helps the body use calcium. Sunblock limits the absorption necessary.
So now every morning I take my calcium supplement. I am scheduled for a bone density test. I know I am not 21 and my training has to change. I know I have to incorporate cross training. I have always known this but have not been compliant. I love to run it’s what I do. The bike to me is tedious. I often tell people I would rather run 20 miles on the treadmill than bike for 1 min. Swimming doesn’t let me listen to my music. I really enjoy listening music. Every song on the radio has the potential to make it to my running playlist. Weights are just a punishment. They say old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Well I am going to attempt to change. This year I will share my journey of this change. I may not like it but if I want to continue to run then it’s what I will do.
I have completed the Dopey challenge. I ran all four races without any problems until Mile 25….
I had come to Disney to enjoy the race and spend time with my sister. The trip was not what we had envisioned. She was in a boot and I was still nursing a mild case of plantar fasciitis but I had a game plan. I was going to enjoy the atmosphere and have fun. I was not racing for time. We had planned our outfits: Day 1 – Captain America, Day 2 – Red Minnie Mouse, Day 3 – Elsa and Anna, and Day 4 – Pink Minnie Mouse with Marathon Maniac shirt.
We ran the 5k at a leisure pace. We even took our picture with our running brother Bart Yasso, “Mayor of Running” and Daisy Duck. Melanie had ran without the boot. She had decided after the race to run the 10k but to wear her boot. She was unsure if she was going to be able to do the half or the full marathon. At that point she decided to wear her Anna outfit. She said she had worked hard on the outfit. I was still going to wear my red/white polka dot Minnie. We had decided to do our own thing for this race. As I was running the 10k, I missed her during the race. I didn’t have my picture buddy. That evening we re-evaluated her foot. She said she felt she could walk the half. I supported her decision. I know firsthand what dropping out of a race feels like. I told her all the pros and cons. I’ll admit I didn’t want her to run the race but she’s an adult and I have to trust her. The race went well for us. We enjoyed ourselves. I do not feel I sacrificed my race for her. I ran my race it just happened to be together. I was happy and that’s why I run.
Marathon day!!!! It had been 51 weeks since my last marathon. I was a little nervous. I had a game plan: Fuel every 5 miles, keep an 11 min/mile pace, stop Cinderella’s castle and take pictures, and finally meet Melanie at mile 24.5. The first thing to derail my plan was my watch, it stopped at mile 16. Makes it hard to stay on course without a watch. Especially the hard miles. Yes, I know there are clocks on the course but it’s not the same. Second thing the rain. Yes, the rain was light but it’s still rain. It also was humid when it stopped. Seeing Melanie at mile 24+ was great. We hugged, she took pics, and I was almost done. I knew once I saw her I only had one more park, Epcot. I left her feeling good. I was a little behind pace but coming in under 5 hours. I didn’t feel tired. Nothing really hurt until mile 25. I rounded the corner coming into the park and I felt as if someone had stuck a hot poker in my left foot. As you can see from the picture above no problems less than a half mile before. I stopped walked a little. Shook my foot a bit (shake it off, shake off). Absolutely no help. I gutted it out. I hate to admit this but I cried. It hurt so bad. I knew it was broke. I cried because I had done what I was supposed to and my body betrayed me. I finished the race smiling.
I will be honest. I didn’t want to share my stress fracture in this blog. I wanted to write about the run. I didn’t want our blogs to start as the running lives of 2 injured sisters. I want this blog to be honest and that’s why I have to tell my story. I now have to evaluate my history of why I have now had 3 stress fractures in less than a year in 3 different places. I have been running for over 10 years on a regular basis and have never been this injured.
The doctor in me knows why and that will be my next blog.
This is the second year Melanie and I are doing the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World. The Dopey consistent of 4 races over 4 days. It starts with a 5k, 10k, half marathon and ends with the marathon. I am like a kid at Christmas when I am talking about Disney. It is literally the happiest place on Earth. I guess the question is why do I run thru it? I will tell you this, I have some of my worst times in these races. It takes Mel and I almost an hour to get thru Magic Kingdom. The reason I run Disney is it let’s me be a kid again. I take my picture with every princess and pose with as many characters as possible. The race is just fun. NO negative splits, no pace to maintain. It’s what running was meant to be: a leisurely run with thousands of people.
The packing and planning for this trip started about a month ago. Melanie and I have to decide what outfits we want to run in. This year we chose Captain America, Pink and Red Minnie and Elsa/Anna. I will be Elsa. She said I was the older sister so I should be Elsa. I agreed because she makes the costumes. She is an amazing seamstress. She makes our skirts and all the frilly add ons. She is all about the detail. I would literally run in a pair of shorts and ugly top. She is the reason we dress cute.
What’s fun about packing for a runcation is you don’t have to pack running clothes first then figure out how your regular clothes is going to fit in your suitcase. The whole trip is running so all the clothes is running clothes. I can pack more than one pair of running shoes and not have to worry how my boots or heels (yeah right when is the last time I wore heels) will fit.
I will post pictures of all our outfits. Happy running.
I decided to run naked this past Tuesday. Running naked means not using a device to track your run. I can’t remember the last time I ran without a watch, I have the hardest time running without a device. I feel if I didn’t time or document the run it didn’t happen. I log my runs with the Nike app. I guess technically I wasn’t totally naked on Tuesday since I was on the treadmill but, I didn’t use my phone or GPS watch to log the run. All I remember of my run was it was Tuesday. I don’t remember how long or far I went, all I know it was approximately 55 minutes. When I look at my electronic log I don’t see a run for Tuesday. Did it really happen?
The question I need to ask myself is why do I feel this way? Why do I have to keep tab on every run? I log how I feel and the shoe I use but I know being able to recall my shoe or feelings isn’t the reason. Deep down inside, I know why I run with a watch. I have logged my miles on Nike+ for over 6 years and I am chasing Volt level. Nike has different levels depending on the amount of running you have done cumulatively on one of their devices. Volt is the highest level. To reach Volt level one must run 9,320 logged miles. Reaching new levels is motivating to me.
Earlier today I looked at the miles I need to obtain the next segment in black level and I need 1,312 miles. Numbers are so exact, run this much and you accomplish this. There is no gray and Volt just happens to be my favorite running color. New Year’s Resolution: run 1,312 miles and then run naked again.
What a long year it has been… I am finally back running after a stress fracture. I sit here thinking about the coming year and the goals I would like to reach. I am registered to run the Dopey Challenge at Disney World in January. It will be my first marathon in 51 weeks. I had planned to run 7 marathons in 2014 but due to injuries I only completed 2. Dopey is going to be a fun run. I have no plans of running thru Disney. I plan to stop at every photo op along the course. I’m not ready to race, just ready to run.