I got my verdict from the physio and my instinct proved correct on this occasion. I could not believe I could have contracted an overuse injury when my energy levels were so high and when foam-rolling and stretching showed that I had no particular tightness or muscle soreness.
Subtalar and Midfoot sprains
Instead, John quickly identified my left-foot problems as a subtalar ankle sprain (a sprain of the tendon running just above the inside of the ankle) which likely was the cause of the second, and more serious, sprain on the mid-foot.
“I’ve never seen a runner with a stiffer mid-foot than this. It couldn’t have happened more than a few weeks ago as you would have much more serious injuries by now if it had,” said John and pointed out the sprains had basically immobilised my left foot making it useless for shock absorption which is what irritated the area between my first and second metatarsal and the big to. “Watch that big toe, once it goes, you’re talking 18 months.”
John gave it a good workout which has almost immediately restored my left foot to full mobility and there is not pain while moving already. He has shown me exercises to remobilise the left mid-foot and once it is back to the same level as the right foot I can resume running. For cautionary purposes, he wants to see me Wednesday to check it after which we hope I’ll have the green light to go back training as normal.
So another unfortunate mishap strikes me and while it is a nuisance, I find solace in the fact that the program has been flawless and I made the right decisions throughout, including going to the physio at this point (“A few weeks ago I would have dismissed you,” as John said).
Aiming for 100%?
I look to lose 6.5 days of training on this, so about 10% of the 70 days of base training planned from the start. However, as the test showed I am ahead of schedule and am using Medfit’s Circuit Training to keep fit in the meantime. It would be easy to be despondent and say I am losing 10% of my maximal performance potential for the coming season, but then the glass would always be half-empty.
Instead I can reflect on what have been six and a half weeks of the best training I ever did and if I get back on track and can complete weeks 9 and 10 as scheduled, I have a very good foundation to build on. The world is an imperfect place and as Aoife said to me the other day, you should always aim for 100% but probably realise you will generally only get 90% but if you aim for 90% you’ll only get 80%.
Another appointment, another weakness
On a final note, the circuit training was very beneficial and enjoyable and think it will serve me well on the hill races I have planned. Working with another specialist at Medfit, Xavier, we found that my sartorius and vastus medialus muscles in the quads are very weak (a common condition apparently). The former turns the thigh outwards while the latter plays a part in knee extension. When I do difficult one-legged exercises, my knee collapses immediately inwards and my body tilts.
It seems that the main course of my bad sprains and torn meniscus from downhill running, are a direct results of this weakness. Addressing my core through the rehabilitation program with the clinic is a key part in fixing this but I also need to work very specifically on exercise that allow me to not collapse inwards when on one knee. So Medfit will make some changes to my functional strength program which I must share here soon.