Injury Update – A combination of Little Things

This morning I was able to walk a mile with Bennie and then two more by myself with little to no discomfort in my feet, which is excellent news!

The even better news is that I probably do not have a stress reaction or fracture in my right foot. As the title says, it’s the little things that, when added all together, made it seem as though things were a lot worse than they were.

Let me back up and explain what happened with my right foot. It is a bit long, and I needed to do some detective work to solve it.

For 90% of my runs, my right foot experiences some discomfort due to my Tailor’s Bunionette. If I want to run regularly, it is merely a part of most runs. Yes, it does sucks at times, but it is the way it is, and you notice that I am still running.

Second, it is winter (no shit Sherlock) in Maine, and the temps have gotten to the point where I have had to wear my heavier merino socks for running. I have had several experiences with my extremities being not quite frostbitten but very close, and now my feet and hands need a little extra protection when it gets cold.

Third, I have been wearing the 361 Meraki v1 as my primary running shoe during December/January and enjoying them quite a bit. While they have been fantastic, they are narrower in the forefoot than I like, very close to being not wearable, and have a large toe-bumper. However, I wasn’t having any issues with the Meraki v1’s until it got colder, and I had to wear thicker socks.

Fourth, I wasn’t wearing my thicker socks on every run in January and didn’t connect the discomfort in my toes to anything in particular. I put it is off as one of those as you get older, more mysterious aches and pains seem to find their way into your running.

Looking back

However, last Friday, when I was running in some slushy conditions and spinning out a lot in the Meraki, the discomfort in either foot never went away. After cutting the run short, when I took my shoes off to see what was going on, I noticed that my right foot was swollen and discolored.

With how my right foot looked and felt, I wasn’t too worried about the left one. I almost immediately believed that I had messed up a bone by the Tailor’s Bunionette-with either a stress reaction or a stress fracture. I have had them before, and it felt and looked similar.

No, I didn’t bother calling the doctor. There is not much they can do if I did have a stress fracture or stress reaction, other than put me in a boot or tell me to rest. I opted to rest and see what things felt like in a few days.

By Sunday morning, the discomfort, swelling, and discoloration were going away. That morning while wearing my Santiago’s with Merino wool socks, I noticed how tight they felt and that my left fourth toe and the right fourth toe had symmetrical discomfort.

Experiencing symmetrical pain of this sort almost always tells me that something is going with the running shoes I am wearing.

When I got home, I looked closer, and callouses had developed on the fourth toes. And my toenails had cut into the skin on both feet. It also appeared as though the right fourth toe was slightly infected and caused the foot to swell. I believe what caused the callouses and skin irritations were the fourth toes rubbing against the Meraki’s toe bumper. They line up exactly where my toes have formed the callouses and forced the skin against the toenail.

I trimmed the toenails, been applying antiseptic ointment to both toes, soaking them in Epsom salts, and wore my muck boots to walk around in. They seem to be healing, and it does not appear that I have a stress fracture or stress reaction to any of the bones in the right foot.

More than likely, it was a combination of my running shoes rubbing against my fourth toes, a slight infection causing my foot to swell, wearing thicker Merino wool socks with shoes that were barely wide enough, without them. Then add running in slush, my feet being thoroughly soaked, and way too many spin-outs at toe-off.

When I put these factors together, they caused the issues that made me think I had had a stress fracture-when I didn’t.

Yesterday I wore the Meraki v1’s with thin socks and had zero problems. However, when I attempted to put them on this morning with my Merino wool socks, the toe bumper quickly rubbed up against those fourth toes, and I immediately took the shoes off. My toes quickly let me know it wasn’t a great idea.

What did I learn?

Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason for an injury-they happen. At other times you can look back and figure out what happened so that you can make changes or be proactive to avoid getting on the injury merry-go-round.

However, I hate to think about how I would have kept repeating this same mistake if I hadn’t stopped and attempted to figure out how the injury occurred. I got lucky this time. I just wish that I had listened a little closer to my body and figured this stuff out before it became the issue that it did. Everything that happened was a result of me not paying attention to the warning signs that were there.

However, 20/20 hindsight is pretty amazing at seeing things that you missed at the time it was happening.

First, it is incredible the difference that a pair of socks can make in how our running shoes fit.

Secondly, I won’t be wearing the Meraki v1’s in the colder weather when I need my Merino wool socks and the same thing with the Santiago’s. They work great when I can wear thin socks, as evidenced by the more than 100 great miles I put on the Meraki before I started using thicker socks and how much I liked the Santiago’s with the thinner socks.

I hope that my observations are correct, and my foot was only reacting badly to having been squeezed too tightly in my running shoes.

Now I am looking at the other shoes I have on hand and maybe even have a pair on the way that might help me get through this stuff a little easier. Well, at least until the weather breaks and I don’t need Merino wool socks. I have dug out my old Wildhorse 5’s to wear with my Merino wool socks for walking around until then and have to figure out which of the multiple pair of running shoes will let me get through the next few days of running without causing more issues.

Sometimes it is a combination of little things that add up to something that seems significant, and it only takes minor changes to make things better again.


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