Ask A Marathon Mommy: Setback


On Thanksgiving morning, I ran my second half marathon. I ran it about a minute slower than my first 13.1 in October, but it was a much more pleasant run. The course was easier, the weather was cooler, and (most importantly) I was more prepared, training-wise. Overall, I felt great during and after the race.

However, around mile five, I felt a sharp, painful cramp in my left foot. The acute pain passed quickly, but my foot ached for the rest of the race. I had a similar, dull pain in my right foot which I attributed to my running shoes, as I’d been having some issues with them. I crossed the finished line feeling triumphant and happy, despite the pain in my feet.

Unfortunately, I did not have (or make) the time to ice my feet or to rest them, because almost immediately after the race my family and I left town for Thanksgiving, and I drove for about 50% of the four-hour drive. I did take ibuprofen, and I wore my compression sleeves in the car, but it was probably about 10 hours after the race before I was able to lay down and truly rest my feet.

By the next morning, the pain in my right foot had nearly resolved. However, the pain in my left foot had worsened. There was no visible bruising, but the top of my foot was swollen and tender, and it hurt toput pressure on it. I iced it and took more ibuprofen, and I tried to rest as much as possible (not an easytask for a mommy). I began to grow alarmed when the pain continued into Friday evening, especiallywhen I heard my dad and my husband whispering the words, “stress fracture.”

I didn’t know what a stress fracture was, but it sure sounded scary. Apparently, stress fractures are fairly common injuries in runners, and they most frequently occur when we increase the intensity and volume of our training. They are serious injuries that require immediate medical attention and a hiatus, possibly as much as six weeks, from running. SIX WEEKS?!?! Well, that would certainly put an end to my goal of running a marathon about 12 weeks from now.

The good news is that I’m almost positive that it wasn’t a stress fracture. It’s now been three and a half days, and while there is definitely still some pain and stiffness on the top of my foot, I can flex my foot and put pressure on it with relative ease. The bad news is that I haven’t been able to run since Thursday, and I probably need at least another day or two of rest before I attempt it. According to my training schedule (which did not include the 13.1 run), I should have run 6 miles yesterday and should be doing about 4 more tomorrow. I’m itching to run, and I’m a little concerned about how this break will impact my overall marathon training. The lesson? Stick to my training schedule. No more long races before the marathon in February. My program and group leaders know what they’re talking about, and I just need to listen and go with the process. This is not the time for over-achieving…that can come later.


Sharon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a background in mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare.

“I tried my hand at being a work at home mom, but in 2009 I decided that being a stay at home mom is what works best for me and my family, at least for now. As my kids like to say, I’m “The Boss” of the family, which includes my husband of 9 years, two daughters (ages 4 and 6), and a giant goldfish named Princess Leia. My girls are beautiful and curious and wild and exhausting, and life is never, ever dull! I love reading, traveling, trying new restaurants, and shopping for bargains. I’m also training to run my first marathon in February 2013.”

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