If you’re following my current bad idea storyline, you’ll know that I recently did a road full marathon and was priming myself for a tough trail full the next week. This was by far one of the silliest plans I have come up with to date, but why not, right?
On the Tuesday night before the trail full marathon I was going to a local trail to meet a friend for a six mile run. I had about zero interest in running all day, so when she mentioned joining me I was thrilled! When I got to the trail I saw her text saying she had been called back to work. She was pissed, I was disappointed, but I figured, hey I'm already here, let's knock out some miles and get on with things. It started out beautiful, but I quickly realized that the lovely fall leaves had started to fall in a big way which means POTENTIAL DEATHTRAP to those of us weak ankle types. So I tried to keep my steps quick and my knees high. Three ankle rolls on my right side later, I was ready to be done. They were thankfully all manageable rolls, but enough for me to realize that it wasn't my day. The sun was setting, I was alone in the woods, hadn't grabbed my cellphone, and all the tiny woodland creatures preparing for winter sounded like potential ax murderers hunting me down.... So, off I went. All the while trying to figure out the quickest and safest way to have this run be finished.
And then I got the screaming curse words ankle roll on my left side. It was a doozy. I stopped and screamed and cussed. But realizing I was still alone in the woods, a mile away from the trailhead, and racing a setting sun… I started moving forward again. I was able to run for a bit, but once I took that first walk break, running was no longer an option. Ankle rolling pain is typically an achy pain. The pain in my ankle was a stabbing pain that was on the inside of my ankle…. Which made no sense for an inward ankle roll (pain is typically on the outside). I got back to the car, locked the doors (to keep out the ax murderer squirrels) and thanked my lucky stars that I survived such a series of poor choices.
The next day…..
My ankle still felt terrible.
So, I did the grown up thing and called a doc. I’m not a big “let’s wait and see” type. If it hurts, and the pain is different than a standard ankle roll, why would I mess around? The good news is that the x-rays came back showing no breaks in the big bones (yeah) and the ligaments and tendons looked ok (yeah). The bad news was that there was a slllliiiiiiggggghhhhtttt chance that there is a tiny bone that doesn’t x-ray well that might be broken. And I got the boot.
The boot allowed me to walk without looking like a hunchback, so that was good. Then I asked the questions I was afraid to ask.
Me: Sooo….. no trail marathon on Saturday, huh?
Doc: Not necessarily.
The rules of the game were explained to me this way.
1. Wear the boot when it hurts.
2. When it doesn’t hurt, walk without the boot… if walking without the boot doesn’t hurt.
3. If walking without the boot doesn’t hurt, try running without the boot, BUT ONLY ON FLAT SURFACES! (that means roads)
4. If I can run without pain, then the 50 miler is on
When a doc makes rules, I follow them. It’s that simple. Because what’s the point of going to a doc if you’re going to ignore what they say and do what you want to anyway? Right?
The weird thing is that when I left the office I expected to be really sad and stressed about missing the marathon, messing up training, and possibly missing this fifty miler I have been training for. But… I wasn’t. No lying. The words I kept thing were:
It’s just stupid running and it’s just a couple of races. There are races all the time.
It’s not like the doc said I was to remain immobile for the next three years! It’s just running. In fact, I got kind of excited that I could get my car worked on Saturday morning since I couldn’t do a long run. The part that stressed me out the most was telling other people because I didn’t want to deal with THEM freaking out and acting like it’s a big deal. It isn’t. It’s just stupid running!
Where am I at now? Well, a week after the “incident” I had been walking without pain and without boot for about three days and was able to knock out 6 miles without foot pain! I’m still generous with icing my foot. But I feel like I’m out of the woods. And the fifty seems to be back on the table.
What’s my training plan? Welp, there’s no point in trying to make up for lost time. I’m going to play out the taper the way I had planned and pay close attention to how my foot deals with a few 10ish mile runs. I would consider myself cautiously optimistic, but not unrealistic. If I go out for a 10-12 mile run and it hurts, I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t just so I can do a stupid race. I’ve watched that scene play out with other runners and it rarely ends well.