My “week six” was meant to be more hill-focused and slightly lower volume after the first five weeks of progressively increasing training load (both in terms of mileage and speed).
When I finished a reasonable fast aerobic run on Monday, I never suspected anything but that things would go according to plan. This was until I woke up Tuesday morning with a strange sensation in my big toe on my left foot. My left foot has been turned into somewhat of a mess with an a lot of hard skin accumulating on the big toe and the remnants of a huge blisters on the little toe.
This caused a lot of discomfort for the first part of my Tuesday run but more unnerving was a sudden pain at the top of my big toe which had been foreshadowed by some instant electric sparks flying from the toe if I moved it the wrong way during the morning.
While I had already planned to do the shortest possible option to allow some recovery, I had to pull the plug just as I turned the hour and returned home trying to figure out what was wrong. Was it a return of my meta-tarsal inflammation, this time between the first and the second metatarsal? I poked and pointed but could not find any sore spots, only a very specific twist done accidentally while walking would do it.
I decided to attack the blisters first as they might have “deformed” my foot and got some lady-tips from Aoife on how to do it. So after purchasing a pumice stone (in pretty pink, grey and blue colours, it’s good to be a masculine mountain runner), which is a rock with an abrasive surface, I filed away at the foot until the shape looked more like it was supposed to be. More needle work was also necessary for some trapped pockets of fluid, a great opportunity to practice my first aid skills.
Eventually, I was never happy enough with the foot on Wednesday to run on it, and decided to take my first complete off-day of the year, doing just a core session with Medfit and my functional strength training in the late evening when I returned.
I had bought some meditape and lamolin to prepare for an attempt at my Thursday run. I knew this would be the last chance to salvage a proper training week, so I put strategic patches of lamolin on the blisters and taped my big toe to the adjacent toe to stabilise it and ensure it would twist less.
Old time records…
Taking off easy at first, I found a surprisingly strong pace out of nowhere and as I reached the half-marathon distance, I noticed I had done it in a better time than my first PB on the distance, set at Achill in 2007. I think it’s the first time I have run faster than an old road running record during an aerobic training session, and it was strangely satisfying to know that as I finished probably my best medium-long run so far.
I had a bit of tingling after 13km, and twice felt a spark, but otherwise nothing during the whole run. The blister patch did a great job but the moment I took it off and put on every day shoes, it was back to hobbling in pain. From gliding over the ground one minute to hobbling ignominiously the next, it felt particularly funny since my muscles were completely fresh.
The litmus test is tomorrow to see how the foot has reacted…