Sunday, October 17, 2010

Navigating Uncertainty

I broke seven miles yesterday for the first time since breaking my foot. October in Colorado provides perfect conditions for afternoon runs. The sunshine highlights the autumn colors and with the temperature at 65 and no humidity it is hard to beat. I wish I could plod along more confidently though.

I'm facing a couple of concerns. Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis were first felt after 44 miles spread over 18 days (two weeks have passed and I have somewhat kept it at bay through downtime stretching) in new New Balance 1226 high mileage trainers. I had believed that I should protect my feet somewhat as they acclimated to running again after seven weeks of relative inactivity. I want to return to barefoot running again and have worn the FiveFingers twice for a total of 5.4 miles. The concern there is that it doesn't seem as though the foot that had the stress-fractured second metatarsal has returned to normal yet. An indication of this is that I my three middle toes claw when I put pressure down on my forefoot. I've done some reading with respect to the possible causes and there are a couple of possibilities consistence with my case. It can occur when the foot and even seemingly unrelated parts of the body experience a trauma. It can occur when a foot is relatively flat and the pressure causes one muscle to pull harder than the one that would otherwise balance it out. Both of these seem consistent with my case; After seven week of not using the foot I suspect that the arch may have lost some of its form.

The dilemma then, is deciding how to approach the recovery. Orthotics, or at least a supportive shoe are often recommended to support the arch and hence allow the muscles to pull in a balanced fashion so that the toes don't pull up and back. Does this just allow the foot to continue in its weakened state? I'm concerned that if I were to run more in the FiveFingers expecting to restrengthen the foot that I may end up doing harm by pounding on the recovering forefoot and also cause injury by repetitive movement of parts that are not operating in the correct position relative to each other.

I've been addressing the problem much as I approach the transition to minimalist running: by doing the longer runs with shoes, the shorter runs in the Vibrams on softer surfaces, and general walking around in bare feet.


  1. I think it's hard to offer advice here. I'll give you your RICE back with a twist:

    Increase mileage

  2. Always sound advice for a runner

  3. John, I think I found the ticker by googling 'hit counter'. Several options come up and some give you the option of entering in your blog address. Others give you the HTML code to enter into a sidebar gadget. From your blog go to 'design' then 'page elements' choose to 'add a gadget'. Scroll down to HTML/JavaScript and paste the code into the 'content' box and save it. Hope that helps... Happy Running!!