Nine Lessons of a Broken Toe

Enough about thinking and growing and communicating. Some of you are probably wondering… isn’t this supposed to be a blog about running?  But since I haven’t been running lately, I haven’t felt much like writing about running either. For the record, it’s been 55 days since my last run (four miles on January 19th) and I’m starting to get just a wee bit cranky. OK… a lot cranky. A fact which has been pointed out to me by at least a couple of my friends.

A quick recap:  On September 7th I broke my toe.  On September 9th, I ran the Chicago Half Marathon. Or I should say I limped-walked-ran it, but made it to the finish line and collected my medal. Then there were a couple of months of recovery and exercise walking until the doc gave me the thumbs up to start running again. Then there was a calf strain around Christmas that plagued me for a few weeks until I went back to the doc and she x-rayed the toe again and told me that it had never healed properly.

Fast forward to last week when I had foot surgery in which the toe was re-broken and set. And now here I sit on the couch with my foot elevated and bandaged, contemplating another couple of months of not running. Hopefully there will be some walking sooner than that because not exercising at all over the past week has been tough.

This is the longest time that I’ve gone without running since I started five years ago.  And so with some time to think, I’ve tried to dig deep for some lessons – both serious and humorous:

1)  Perhaps most obviously, it’s probably not a good idea to run 13.1 miles with a freshly broken toe.  You can find more on this topic here.

2) Don’t sign up for races too far in advance, I’ve had to scratch several races this fall and winter including two 5Ks and another half marathon.  I hated losing the money as much as not running.

3) Take it slow when starting back from an injury. You knew that. But I mean even slower than you thought. I have no doubt that the calf strain was an overuse injury caused by weakness in my injured foot. It happened the first day that I tried running fast. Ouch. When I next return to running, I think I am going to do Couch to 5K again.

4) Appreciate your runs. All of them. You never know when one might be your last. How many times do we come home annoyed at the crappy runs? But you ran! Celebrate!

5) If you have to take several months off and you live in New England, the winter is probably not a bad time to do it.

6) All those running emails start to get damn annoying when you’re not running.  Marathon Sports, Active, Rock and Roll, and more… I never realized how much running email I got until I didn’t want to see it.

7) Speaking of annoying… all those runners out on the road. Grrr… Envious?  Me? Yup.

8)  Adapt. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, elliptical or bike. If you can’t do either of those (that would be me right now) use the opportunity to do some upper body work… and stretching. You can almost always do something.

9) When all else fails, remember that a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch contains 40% of the RDA of bone-healing calcium!

Stitches come out next week. I’m on the road to recovery. I hope!

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6 responses to “Nine Lessons of a Broken Toe

  1. Oh my goodness Kathy I had no clue you had surgery. Sending my prayers for a speedy recovery. It’s been a slow go for me coming back from my calf issue that flared up just about the time you broke your toe. And I can relate to the envy of those running while I was going through rehab. I am still taking things slowly…not concentrating so much on my finishing time, but running healthy. Many hugs!

  2. Pingback: Reflections from Paradise | WorkplaceWise

  3. HI – I just found your blog. I also broke my middle toe and also did so by slamming it into the bed leg, though mine is split in the middle. I broke it on 9/19 and am supposed to do a half on Sunday – 10/5. I gave up the idea of running it long ago. I’ve been toying with walking it, but will make that decision the day of and only if I feel 100% confident. As of today, I’d say no. These posts have given me much food for thought – thank you! I hope you are fully recovered now!

  4. Dealing with a big toe fracture (in joint also) for close to 7 weeks now. Dying to run! Went to the Montreal 5km, 21km this morning and enviously watched all runner take their mark, get set and go. Still not even walking properly but reading your blog reminded me of what I can be doing. Pain and injury for athletes is a test of the mind. You need to keep focusing on what you have and not what doesn’t work. Thank you and I hope you recover soon.

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