By Jeff D. Fulton
Back on the re-hab trail…literally.
From June through July of 2012 I was cooking through a training plan that would have had me doing a personal record time for a 1/2 Marathon. The race was the Rock N Roll LA 1/2 and I was really looking forward to it and then doing even better at the 1/13/13 LA 1/2 Marathon for another personal best. That was to be the ultimate special day because it would have been my deceased father’s birthday, and as he is the one that started me on running I felt it would be a great tribute to him to kick some ass in that race.
Unfortunately, my body had different ideas. After a 14 mile run, with Wesley Crews, in August, my foot left foot didn’t feel right. The big toe was painful, but ice seemed to do the trick. I did a few more weeks of 30-40 miles planned runs but unfortunately the pain became permanent. Obviously, this proved to me that there was something very wrong with my foot. I was diagnosed with bone spurs and needed surgery right away to correct it. I was told that just letting it go would result in me not being able to run or jog and worse, or it might degenerate into arthritis.
I stopped running altogether in September and had the surgery October 4th. It was much more painful than I ever imagined and the bone spurs were deeper and bigger than the doctor originally thought. I also had complications at the incision point where the stitches became infected. This caused me to become a single-legged, bandage wrapped, iodine and gauze covered limper for the better part of the next two months. I couldn’t do much in the way of training on my feet, so I combined some of my own anemic spin workouts, with weights, elliptical, and the rowing machine to make a sort of hybrid, yet really boring set of interchangeable routines that helped to keep the extra weight off but I could feel my fitness level slipping away.
At the beginning of November I was able to start combining limited weight training classes with physical therapy and the a-fore-mentioned hybrid routines to get some version of a decent workout. The problem was that walking fast, jogging at all, or doing anything that resembled a lunge with my left foot would cause immense pain both inside my foot and it the infected incision point.
So, I waited, and did my moderate workouts and physical therapy for the next 40 days until this weekend. Right up until last Wednesday my toe would hurt any time I did a lunge. After my physical therapy session on Thursday that pain almost completely subsided. I was able to do a full weight training session on Friday morning, including the lunges, and only had a very minor amount of pain during and afterward. Since I have what the doctor told me would be my final visit with him this upcoming Tuesday and what he felt would be my final physical therapy appt oh Monday, I figured that I better test out my foot for real…
I so did, today. I went for the first 5 miles I have jogged in nearly 4 months along the wood chip trail in Manhattan and Hermosa Beach. It wasn’t a complete jog, I walked 1/4 mile then jogged 1/4 and then repeated that for five 12-13 minute miles. My legs were a little tired about 1/2 though, and my toe hurt a little, but I was able to make it though the entire 5 miles. My heart rate was kept in check because of the spin and elliptical workouts I have been doing, so this turned out to be little more than a mild interval workout. My goal is to do this one time a week for the next month and see how much of the walking can be replaced with jogging over that time.
There won’t be any races in my future. I hope to re-build up a base of mileage over the first 6 months of the year and then get back into a few competitions. I don’t have a plan other than that. I’m not pre-signing up for any races (lost a lot of $$ on three races during my down time because of that). My hope is to get to a fitness level where I can easily run 20 miles a week, combined with other training, and then just pick up races as I find them to use as workout replacements. No more expensive training plans, no more 40+ mile weeks. Maybe in time I will get back there again, but for now, I plan to hit the trails as much as possible on my jogging (then later running days) and just keep it light and fun.
That’s the literal (and figurative) comeback trail. I hope to stay injury free for as long as possible.