Long story: The pain in my foot didn't present exactly like my first stress fracture, so while I was worried, I tried not to be. After all, I run every day with some level of discomfort. My general rule of thumb is: if isn't actually hurting, then don't stress about it. Otherwise I would never run, period. There was a specific spot in my foot that hurt pretty significantly when pressed on, but I never felt it while running, unlike my first fracture. That one I learned about in the middle of a run when suddenly my foot really hurt. The other bad sign was that over the last couple of runs my foot would ache afterwards.
I am not sure why I wasn't told this last fall, but today my podiatrist told me that my second metatarsal is quite a bit longer than my first. I found this fascinating because my second toe is not longer, just the bone. On an x-ray it looks like this:
Image from www.footcare4u.com
On a "normal" or "regular" foot, that second metatarsal bone would end much more in line with the first. In
freaky weird other feet, it's very off. Upon googling I learned this is what is actually referred to as a Morton's Toe. I thought a Morton's Toe was a longer second toe, but rather, it's a longer second metatarsal. That's a little factoid you can store away for trivia night.
So, the podiatrist basically says, "well, this isn't even a biomechanical issue, it's a structural one. You can correct it with surgery but that's about it. You really need to stop running." And then I was all, "what?!" And then he was all, "well, my advice is to stop running, at least for 4-6 weeks, but if you want to keep running and see how it progresses, you can, but you risk causing structural damage." And then I was all, "but I'm already structurally damaged. So eff it."
I guess people with longer second metatarsals toe off from that weak, spindly bone, instead of the big beast of a first metatarsal, hence the recurring stress fractures. What I didn't find out from my doctor, and what I pose to you, internets, is this: I know that not all people with Morton's Toe have to stop running. How?
Also, as I did research it started to make me think that maybe this is why other things in my body are off kilter? If your feet are structurally unsound, and everything in your body is a chain from the bottom up, then it could very well be affecting other things.
So . . . the million dollar question is, where am I now? I never registered for the Bellingham Bay half marathon (I'm no dummy) so that wasn't so hard to give up. I haven't yet given up hope for the full marathon in December, but I can deal with letting it go if I need to. Stopping training for an injury was always in the plan and the #1 reason I also haven't registered for that race, either. But I do still have a sliver of hope. I have put a lot of training in already and I just want to run this marathon and cross it off my list. I just want one. Well, ideally I would run marathons forever, but you know, universe, just give me ONE.
If it is actually true that I will be battling injuries forever because my stupid body hates how much I love to run, then part of me thinks, you know what, keep trying for this marathon. It won't be any easier next time if I stop now, plus I would be starting from scratch then. But I don't know.
Probably what I will do is take a little time off, try to pool run or something equally mind-numbing, and talk to a new PT I am meeting with next week, talk to my active muscle release technique therapist. Plus a little (okay, a lot) of talking with my soul. What is really the right thing to do?