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The hypochondria monster strikes again.


Uncertainty makes me feel uninspired and grumpy, so you are about to experience an annoying string of short sentences, poor transitions, and dull details.

See, I’ve had this pain in my foot for about two months now.

It scares me.

At first, there were a few mild shooting pains, mostly at random or in the middle of the night. I decided it could be a neuroma. I took a week off to cross-train it away. Then I raced. I was fine.

So I ran and ran and ran in my shoes-with-too-many-miles-on-them.

Due to icy, dangerous road conditions or possibly just me being a wuss, I was putting in a lot of miles on the treadmill, 2% incline at the least to compensate for the lack of wind resistance. In other words, lots of running at a slight uphill cant. When I am outside, the only way to run  across the ice without being reduced to a glacially slow shuffle is to wear ice studs. Neither of these is an ideal situation for finicky feet.

Gradually the pain came back.

It moved over one metatarsal. It felt different this time.

It is not incapacitating when I actually run. Mostly it just feels like it’s burning for a little while. It comes and goes as it pleases. In fact, I notice it more when I’m walking — and heck, sitting –than I do when I run.

Sometimes it wakes me up in the middle of the night, burning, cramping, very localized, sort of like I’m getting knifed in the underside of my foot where the bottom of my 2nd and 3rd toes meet the ball of my foot.

Other times it feels like it hurts on top of the foot.

Are we bored yet?

Essentially, after a few weeks of this quandary making me a very grouchy, unpleasant, unmotivated person, I am here posting in exhaustive detail about my silly foot pain. I’m hoping that if I put this down in writing, it will turn out to be nothing. Sort of like I’m performing reverse psychology on the universe.

And now, a visual intermission:

I highlighted the painful part in blue. My foot is gross, it's true. Yay!

Profanity and expletives.

It hurts on the rowing machine and the elliptical. Which leaves… the stationary bike.

But, but, maybe it’s nothing! See, generally my strategy with these things is to ignore them and hope for them to magically disappear, but that hasn’t been working so far.

I suppose that if I’m going to have something of an injury, now is as convenient a time as any.

But, guh. Someone, tell me exactly what it is and exactly what to do about it and whether or not it would be stupid to continue running on it. Sure, I know the answers to at least a few of those questions, I just need to hear them from someone else.

I know, I know, see a doctor, you moron! And if I replace my shoes and spend the week cross-training, this nonsense will all clear up. Right? Right?

Have you ever had a running-related foot injury?

How do you cross-train when jumping, elliptical, rowing, and swimming (due to lack of access) aren’t options? Looks like I’ll be getting cozy with the stationary bike in the next few days. And — trend alert — I’ve been lifting quite frequently in the past three weeks, mostly because it gives me something productive to do outside of needless foot-hurting junk mileage.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. new reader permalink
    12/13/2010 12:40

    I know this is just the “see a doctor” advice, but pain that wakes you up in the middle of the night can be potentially serious! Nerve pain can be caused by a variety of things going on in your foot. Seems I am also bad about going to the doctor when I need to, but please do 🙂

    • 12/13/2010 17:21

      Thanks for your comment! I do need to hear these things. I’m hoping that this is all just a dramatic overreaction on my part, but all options need to be considered…

  2. dubay319 permalink
    12/13/2010 12:49

    I am sorry for your foot pain and i know how bad it hurts you , sorry .

  3. 12/13/2010 13:07

    Sounds very Morton’s Neuroma-ish. If I were not in an airport lounge, I would take a picture of my dandy little scar on my right foot for you.

    You know this is coming, right? See a doctor! I got away with metatarsal pads and the odd cortisone shot for more than a year. That might be all you need!

    • 12/13/2010 17:28

      Nooo, nooooo! Ahhhh! Scars are cool. Surgery? Not. So. Much. I know someone who’s had the surgery and I don’t think she’s ever showed me the scar; I’ll have to ask when I see her over the holidays. Might be enough to “scar” me straight, if you will. That is, if Google image searching “neuroma surgery” doesn’t do the trick.

  4. 12/13/2010 13:08

    Oh man, I was in the same boat with my Achilles issue a few weeks ago, needing cross-training that didn’t involve jumping or runninglike motions. Bike and swim were all I ever came up with. And yoga, but I put that in a whole different bucket.

    Yes, it would be stupid to continue running on it. You know that. 🙂

    If it were me, I wouldn’t worry about seeing a doc unless it gets worse, or doesn’t get better, with time off. But that’s just me. I hate going to the doctor.

    So, uh…enjoy your indoor cycling? And trendy weightlifting? Hope things heal up soon!

    • 12/13/2010 17:31

      Agreed on the doctor thing. I’l give the crosstraining week a go first for sure.

  5. DorkyAnt permalink
    12/13/2010 13:11

    did you google your symptoms? I know, sounds stupid, but there’s a lot of info on the web and on good running websites. I would try new running shoes, when all else fails thats what I usually try, although that’s not very easy on the wallet. Maybe some orthodics? Are you icing? You should be.
    I hate injuries! My friend had some pretty bad foot pain training for our last marathon and she wound up getting a cortizone shot which really took the pain away, but that’s a bit extreme.
    I hope your foot starts feeling better!!!

    • 12/13/2010 17:35

      You are right, and I’ve been googling and icing like a mad woman! I think some new shoes will help a lot — this is the longest I’ve gone without a fresh pair. Planning on mooching them into a Christmas present from the folks… wish me luck!

  6. Lacey permalink
    12/13/2010 15:05

    “wuss” is not a word that even comes close to what i would use to describe you so i’m guessing this pain is kind of a big deal whether or not you think so … you are allowed to worry about it!!

    and gosh… i am there with ya on the stationary bike. as much as i like it… i’m a bit sick of being on it as my primary go-to workout. ah well. i read a lot of magazines. we don’t even have cable anymore !!

    i also find foot injuries to be devastating across sports . i have so many friends who are not just runners, but soccer + basketball players who have had stress fractures, torn ligaments, plantar fasch..itis however you spell that. and feet are HARD b/c you are on them so much. and athletes are on them a lot and intensely. so… it’s tough. hope it gets better soon.

    • 12/13/2010 20:41

      We’ll be buddies. Sorry to hear the knee is still giving you so much grief — sheesh! I am feeling saddle sore already… it’s what, day 3 of this?

  7. 12/13/2010 16:15

    It didn’t feel how you described, but I had trouble with extensor tendonitis in my foot (before I had it in my leg). At first, I freaked out because I thought it could be a metatarsal stress fracture, since it was also right underneath where the toes met the foot, but then I noticed that it tended to get better as I ran and worse walking around after I cooled down. And sometimes it hurt more on top than on the bottom, which was weird. The reason I mention it is that it has been a problem for me when introducing more hills/trails, but also in one case I have a note about slick surfaces. Things that force me to change how my feet hit the ground. When you say cramping, do you feel like you want to pull on your middle toes to stretch out the area underneath? Do you perceive your calf and shin muscles as being tighter than usual?

    • 12/13/2010 16:36

      Thanks for your response — this is EXACTLY what I’ve been hoping is the main problem. In fact, when I first found out that tendonitis in the feet is an actual possibility, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I feel like all the treadmill/incline stuff, paired with the ice running + ice studs, has had me putting down thousands of strides that my feet aren’t used to. I’m crossing my fingers that some kind of hill-related tendonitis is the real issue; the only thing that makes me think twice are the occasional shooting pain/burning stuff… maybe it’s a combination of things.

  8. 12/13/2010 16:20

    argh! injuries (or issues as i’m calling it!) are the worse. i’m dealing the an issue myself and i KNOW that running on it is no bueno but i keep doing it. i’m going to try XTing tmrw (fingers crossed for me) and see if that helps. i REALLY don’t want to go to the doctor but i told myself that if it doesn’t get better by next week then i’m going. blah.

    i’d see if you can get some good spin ones. if you want i can send the one or two that i used last spring when i was injured. they’re tough if you make ’em.

  9. 12/13/2010 22:19

    So sorry you have this to deal with. It’s amazing how clear other’s injuries can seem to us ( take time off, doc, etc) but it’s often hard to admit our own limitations when it comes to injuries. I suppose it all goes back to the human mentality that “Nothing really bad can happen to me, it happens to other people…”

    Try to give your foot a break and get friendly with the bike. Too bad you have no where to swim. (I don’t either unless I were to join a different, expensive gym, so I feel your pain.)

    Heal quick!

  10. 12/14/2010 04:19

    I had a similiar pain once, looked exactly like your foot including the black toenail 😉 I iced it a bit (which I don’t think helped but maybe?) I think the cause of it was my footwear. I was wearing a lot of slip on and off shoes to work that did not have a lot of support. It didn’t really hurt running or when I wore sturdy shoes. Ok this was not helpful at all. Ha. Hope it gets better soon! Good luck with the new shoes and weights!! Remember… the beach is thaaaat way. *flex muscle*

  11. 12/14/2010 05:42

    See a doctor. Rest. Cross train. Something…just don’t keep running! I ran on my sore foot until I broke it. Big mistake.

    I was relegated to the bike for a long time after that. The spinning podcasts on Trihardist made the bike a little more bearable:

  12. 12/14/2010 06:10

    I’d XT and try new shoes first. I’m stubborn about seeing doctors for stuff I feel like they won’t do much for. Enjoy the bike? Oh and eat m&m’s. You would definitely be invited to hang out anytime. I figure I’m not worthy of your cool AKness.

  13. 12/14/2010 06:17

    Have I ever NOT had a running-related food injury?? Sigh. Profanity and expletives are expected…

    I’ve never experienced anything other than heel pain that -for me- is an indication or inadequate stretching and flat feet. But I’ve read that sharp and shooting pain could be a sign of nerve-related issues. (and that’s my totally expert medical opinion. I’m not a doctor but I play one on your blog!)

    My rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t go away after taking a few days off and it starts to affect or interrupt other parts of my life – sleep/food/sex/television (you know, the essentials) then it’s time to see a doctor. (Coincidentally this is also my test for whether or not I’m an alcoholic.)

    Good luck!

  14. 12/14/2010 08:20

    I am so so so not an expert, and I try not to dole out any physical-related advice because I don’t know jack. However, I do notice [DISCLAIMER NOT AN EXPERT] that my feet, particularly the top of my feet, begin to hurt when my shoes get very worn out. That’s how I know to change them. But it doesn’t hurt on the elliptical, which makes me think that yours is something different.

    Cross train more. The only thing worse, I imagine, than a long, cold, dark Alaska winter is a long, cold, dark Alaska winter with a bitter foot injury.

  15. 12/14/2010 09:38

    I had foot pain on the top of my foot once and fixed it with a week of cross-training (I think I was able to do elliptical) and lots of ice (15 minutes every hour). Also, prescription anti-inflammatories from the podiatrist. I think mine was just inflammation or something. If you’ve had it for 2 months you definitely need to see a doc. I’m sorry. 😦

  16. 12/15/2010 17:03

    Oh man, I feel for you, it’s scary carting around some mysterious ailment you can’t place and that won’t go away. I’m in agreement about the shoes, in fact, I wouldn’t mess around with that in future, if you feel pain for a few weeks and you know your shoes are old, get new ones asap, at least to get rid of that as a cause. Also, for shits and giggles, when you get your new pair, wear an old one on one foot and a new one on the other and you’ll see the huge difference in cushioning.

    Hopefully, that’ll be the main culprit, because it really could be as simple as that. Hard to diagnose though since it moves, but in a way, that sounds good, since that means it’s tendon or ligament, not the dreaded bone.

  17. 12/15/2010 17:06

    Btw, it might be 2 things, sometimes I get something on the bottom of one foot between my first and 2nd metatarsal at the ball, I’ve decided it’s Metatarsalgia. But what helps it a lot is just a little massaging, that seems to diffuse whatever fluid is collecting there. Maybe try that if you get the ball of foot thing again.

  18. 12/16/2010 02:04

    This is a difficult one. The only major foot problems I’ve had are plantar fasciitis and achilles soreness. An ex training partner has had metatarsal stress fractures. The “doctor thing” is no guarantee of a correct diagnosis, unless you get (expensive) bone scans and MRIs. Cure is 4-6 weeks of no running.

    I’d go the other options first (unless the pain increases), of new shoes, varying the incline of the treadmill (even downhill, which you can do by raising the back), running on soft surfaces (impossible in winter?), water-running for cross-training. Good luck!

  19. 12/16/2010 22:26

    doctors are not always my favourite people, and i dont practice what i preach, but no harm in getting one to check out your feet? i have never had that type of pain before though i have plenty of other things – for example, a pair of ankles that click when i walk….

  20. 12/17/2010 03:36

    I also hope that my aches and pains will just disappear – and sometimes they do. But if this has been bothering you for awhile, I would bite the bullet and see a doc 🙂

    And strength training is good! You are gonna get SO ripped this winter. hehe. Feel better soon!

  21. 12/19/2010 18:58

    awww I am sorry to hear about your painful foot! have you tried Gravity classes? they are so fun and super hard! body pump may be a fun option too. Do spin bikes cause pain? because I find spin much more fun than the stationary bike, you might too!
    I hope you heal quick, and enjoy this holiday week!


  1. Mental preparations for battle against the possibility of going athletically brain-dead during January and February. « Sweaty Kid.

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