Reflecting: Stress Fracture to Tibia

Running, as well as all training, is fraught with set backs. Last week I got the results of an MRI which confirmed a suspicion I’ve had since November: something was not right with my right knee. In fact, during the race, I texted my wife “knee” at mile 20 and she knew I was pointing out that something was off, the extent of which I didn’t know but kept pushing to a 3:19:46 finish. Like many people finishing their first marathon and having grown accustomed to the aches and pains of training, I took a couple days off and then jumped back into training, now excited to don my “marathoner” shirt!

I’ll stop right here to take a moment to say, if you feel pain that is out of the normal and doesn’t go away after a week, go get it checked out. I had a few people recommend that I get an MRI in mid-November after a comment about my knee but I rationalized away getting it done. If you look at the numbers, it’s pretty clear that something was wrong for the past several months, going from 100 miles in training slowly downward.

Even my speed is off, which is crazy!

March has felt like a turning point. I got some vacation time in with the wife in February that was mostly spent resting the legs and set up some generally pain-free runs in March. I thought, “phew, done with that.” I had an MRI scheduled and I already had had x-rays done, physical therapy and an orthopedic surgeon look me over and nothing presented so I wrote it off. I’m actually ashamed to say that I almost skipped out on the MRI. “I’m fine, all better.” The day before the MRI, I ran seven miles at 6:50/mile pace. Rock solid.

The Doc called with the results, officially a stress fracture to the lateral condyle of the tibia still showing signs of healing and moderate edema (fluid) build up.

Runners are pretty familiar with stress fractures. They happen more frequently than you’d think. And honestly, it could be worse. My ligaments, cartilage and muscles are all dialed, but running for four months while trying to heal a stress fracture was not a good idea. Lesson learned.

So now I’m off my feet. Six weeks of no running, swimming only because I begged the doctor. In a couple weeks I may introduce no-impact cycling just to shake things up. I’m really bummed because I felt like my running was starting to come back and I’d like to keep up the improvements I made in 2017. Healing is the most important thing though, so now it’s about having patience, taking my time and letting my body heal and rest. That is one of the hardest things for me to do, but this is all a part of the journey!

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