The aftermath of the City2Surf.. How I fractured my right third metatarsal

A few months ago I blogged about why we (runners) keep signing up for the City2Surf year after year, even though it’s a challenging event.

It turned out this year was more challenging than ever for me, because I fractured the third metatarsal in my right foot during the race. I had some pain on and off in that part of my foot in the two weeks leading up to the race, and the official diagnosis says that stress on my foot and old running shoes contributed the fracture during the run.

I made it through 9km before the pain started, and stopped at a first aid station around 11km on the downhill stretch to the beach. After icing it for about 15 mins and taking some pain killers, I hobbled the rest of the way to Bondi, having no idea that my foot was broken at that point.

There were some tears, mostly over the disappointment of not finishing. After going for drinks and hobbling up the hill to the car, I still had no idea how serious it was. I remember thinking that I would take about two weeks off running and see how it went.

When I woke up the next day and couldn’t lift my foot without serious pain, I decided a visit to the doctor was on the cards, and he immediately referred me for an x-ray. I knew it was going to be bad news, but seeing “recent non displaced spiral fracture” on the report was still extremely disappointing. The doctor estimated that it would take 6 weeks to heal, and that I might need a boot. I made another appointment to go back and see him after a week.

That was almost seven weeks ago – this is what has happened since then:

Week 1 – After the x-ray confirmed I had managed to fracture my foot, I was told no weight bearing, which meant crutches. It’s a cliche, but you don’t realise how easy everything is when you have the ability to walk. Some basic things, I switched to a backpack because I couldn’t carry a bag on my shoulder, getting into the shower was difficult, and so was cooking standing on one foot. I had to start taking the bus to work and, the hardest part, I couldn’t get coffee in the morning because I couldn’t carry it with crutches. On the plus side, using the crutches was a killer workout, and the pain in my foot dissipated when I stopped trying to walk on it.

Week 2 – After going back to see the doctor, he was happy that I wasn’t in pain and that the swelling had gone down. I got a boot, which he told me meant I could partially weight bear but said I could still use the crutches if need be. I definitely needed to, walking the few steps from the doctor’s office to the reception was quite painful. Later that week I worked up the confidence to try walking a few steps without the crutches which I was able to do without much pain.

Week 3 – The boot allowed more mobility which I was grateful for (being able to carry coffee made me a very happy girl). I learnt to walk with it without feeling much or any pain. I was glad to be able to take it off to sleep and shower, but it still felt uncomfortable the times I couldn’t avoid putting small amounts of weight on it, and I did a lot of hopping around my apartment.

Week 4 – The week started with another appointment and a follow up x-ray. I had a feeling that I would see improvement, and set myself up for disappointment when it showed no union. There was callus formation though, which was positive. The doctor was happy with the progress, so I tried to be despite being told it was still too soon to swim or cycle. He did say that I could fully weight bear in the boot, meaning the crutches were gone for good. My right heel was hurting, so I tried to walk more naturally in the boot and put more weight on the front of my foot.

Week 5 – I decided it might be time to get another opinion on the exercise I could do, and started looking into finding a physio. I noticed a lot of improvement this week, and was able to walk much further and faster with the boot. I was managing the 25 minute walk to work without any pain, and generally feeling pretty positive.

Week 6 – This week started with a physio appointment, I was recommended someone who is also a runner. He looked at my training program and didn’t think I was doing too much which was the first positive thing to come out of the appointment. He got me to stand on my toes, which I could do without any pain, but I was heavily favouring my left foot. The best outcome from the appointment was that I could start walking without the boot, which I did gradually over the week. It was very strange at first, and my leg felt weak, but the more I did it the easier it got. My achilles was sore, and so was my calf, but my foot was generally okay.

Week 7 – My follow up physio appointment this week resulted in the news that I can start to run again over the long weekend. I have to start slowly, building up to a 40 minute walk, and run for a few minutes within that. The aim is to do that twice over the long weekend. My foot has felt a bit sore this week, but as I said to the physio sometimes I can’t tell if it’s real pain or me being paranoid. Google research tells me it’s not abnormal to have a bit of pain and swelling recovery, and the phsyio wasn’t concerned. I do the “tiptoe test” every day and no longer favour my good foot.

The plan from here is build up slowly to run a half marathon in January, and then if all goes well – Canberra marathon next year. I have a few goals along the way – 5km by the end of October, 10km by the end of November and half marathon by January. Here goes…

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