Injury: My First Stress Fracture

The last post I wrote was a brief recap of my first few weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon, 12 weeks out from race day. Now, the race is just over 7 weeks away and I’m on day 3 of wearing a walking boot. I had an MRI done on my foot on Monday, a stress fracture in my second metatarsal was confirmed early Tuesday morning by my doc, and I picked up the boot the same day. I have 6 weeks to let the bone heal. If all goes well, I’ll be able to go for my first test run at the end of September, just 2 weeks before the Chicago Marathon.

BarkleeAnn doesn't like the boot either.

BarkleeAnn doesn’t like the boot either.

This isn’t exactly how I pictured the rest of the year going. I was finally piecing together some good weeks of training, with solid speedwork and tempos. My mileage was steady, as it has been basically all year (between 40-50 mpw). I hadn’t even made it over 50 miles for the week yet. I was getting an extra boost of confidence by running speed workouts with others. A few weeks ago, I noticed that my left foot was slightly sore. It would come and go but the discomfort (not pain) didn’t stick around. I’m cautious about these types of things because I know it’s a bad sign when one side doesn’t mirror the other. I wore compression socks and iced it when it felt like it was tender. I honestly thought it was just a muscle or tendon issue. I even decided to do speedwork on the lakefront path instead of the track to avoid turning too much on my left side.

I didn’t think it was bone-related until I went for my long run while I was in Milwaukee. I felt fine the first 5 miles. Then, each mile after that didn’t feel great. It was a cutback run of 14-15 miles, but I called it a day at 12.5 mi. The next day, I had a feeling it was bone-related.

Tuesday was a rough day this week. Even though I was 90% sure I had a stress fracture even before hearing the results from the MRI, reading the email saying that it was confirmed was heart-breaking. I cried for a bit, pulled myself together for the work day, but all I wanted to do was sit around and wallow.

I really appreciate the comments and texts from friends and runners. The comments like “shit shit fuck fuck noooooooooo” or “whyyyyyyyy. This sucks!” are my favorite. Because that’s exactly how I feel and there’s really nothing anyone can say to make me feel better (temporarily!). I’m really sad and frustrated and angry about the whole thing but it’s been a weird mixture of all three so far. Don’t worry – it won’t last long.

I’ve had a few days to process it and get used to walking around in the boot. I’m able to cross-train by spinning (seated only) or swimming, but all weight-bearing exercises (including yoga) are out for the next 6 weeks. I’m going to give some mat-based Pilates DVDs a try and do what I can on the bike. My doc ordered a bone density scan [UPDATE: ““Bone mineral density is within normal limits.” Check!] and extra calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplementation, so those are immediate next steps as well. To some extent, this injury is easier to deal with than others because it’s very clear what I need to do in order to recover: sit on my butt for 6 weeks and cross-train in the ways that I can. Past injuries haven’t been so black-and-white and I was stuck in limbo between deciding to race or cutting the training cycle short to recover.

I’m glad I stopped when I did, that it’s not more serious, and that I saw a doc when I did. I think I’ve been fairly lucky when it comes to injuries since I committed to long distance running, about 4 years ago. I’ve pretty much only dealt with one overuse injury and one ridiculous injury to my knee after a clumsy fall. I’ve never even broken a bone in my body before. And now I’m dealing with my first stress fracture. I’m 9 weeks into a training cycle and the past 3 weeks have made me especially excited to tackle goals at Chicago in October. Big goals. Big scary ones. Now I’ll be lucky if I even get to the start line of half the distance in November or December. I know it’s a small, even miniscule thing in the grand scheme of things. Running long distance is such a mindfuck. You get so few chances to show how hard you’ve been working and then it all has to come together on ONE day, at a certain hour, with a certain mindset. This year hasn’t really been a stellar year for me in many ways – I was hoping it would come together this summer and fall. And it was. I was just dealt a bad hand.

Still, there’s an upside! I’m happy that I’m still able to sweat and try to mimic the effort I’d spend running on the bike. I’ll be strength training just as much, if not more, than I was before (with appropriate changes to certain exercises, of course). And that complaint that I always make about not having enough time to read? Poof. Gone. I’m going to read ALL THE BOOKS.

Also, I figure I either have 6 weeks to get a 6 pack OR 6 weeks to drink a many 6 packzzzz. I have a feeling those goals are not simultaneously compatible, but I think I’m up for the challenge, as always.

2015-08-20 12.02.47

Counting down the days

Run some miles for me and enjoy every step, my friends.


  • If you’ve ever had a stress fracture, what has helped you get through it? (From sanity-savers to specific workout DVDs you’ve used)
  • What races should I set my sights on for spring 2016?

30 thoughts on “Injury: My First Stress Fracture

  1. Erin says:

    Oh no! Stress fractures are a big bummer! I had one last year and was in “bootsie” for six weeks as well. In total, I was out for seven weeks and 1 day. PT included dry needling (yeah, that’s a particular level of crazy). What got me through was making out a plan that looked just like my training plan but it was my comeback plan. I googled all about deep water Aqua jogging and was in the pool every day. It helped a lot mentally to be doing many of the same movements I would do on the pavement but in the water with the water belt. It helped me keep up my cardio during this break (I wasn’t even allowed to be on a bike!).
    I wish speedy healing for you!!!

    • @jennypoore says:

      I’m definitely ready to get back to some sort of a ‘training plan’. I hopped (ha, not really) on the bike for the first time this week and it felt so good to sweat again. Giving pool running a try this weekend as well! It’s nice to hear that others have had similar experiences & didn’t go totally crazy 🙂

  2. Teal says:

    Arrrggg! I’m sorry to hear this, that blows!! But despite the inevitable frustration, it sounds like you’ve got the right attitude: cross train, get going on some six packs (either version!), and keep looking ahead. I’ve been deep water pool running through an injury to my femur, which is a great, running-specific workout, although admittedly pretty boring. But it might be worth a shot if you want a switch up from the bike!

  3. Jamie says:

    Ugh I’m so sorry girl. That is beyond frustrating. I ended up training very poorly for my second marathon and ended up with a femoral stress fracture near my hip joint, and ended up being immobile for 6+ weeks. It was awful. But it definitely made me appreciate how much I love the sport of running. I hear pool running is an awesome workout and a great way to maintain fitness! I’m sending you lots of positive vibes for a speedy recovery!! 🙂

    • @jennypoore says:

      Thanks so much Jamie. It’s definitely frustrating and unexpected – already looking forward to that first slow run/walk back in cooler temps (advantage of being out now? ‘missing out’ on the heat and humidity!)

  4. martinthorne2014 says:

    This temporary injury can either be a good thing or bad- it is up to you and your attitude to figure it out. Same thing happened to me 3 years ago. I chose to start doing cross training like swimming, core work, bike, stair stepper, lunges, squats, etc. By the time I could run I had not lose any stamina and I had a much stronger core. I am now a much stronger runner and am able to do 100 mile ultras without much recovery. It took my injury to open my eyes and get me to change the way I train. This might be the wake up call you need to take your running program to the next level. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Make life happen. Warm wishes and fall in love with cross training.

  5. Pete B says:

    This truly sucks. As you said, at least you know what you need to do to get healed and have a time table for doing so. It sucks when injuries aren’t so black and white. Enjoy working on those six packs! 🙂

  6. M @readeatwriterun says:

    This is so exactly true. ” Running long distance is such a mindfuck. You get so few chances to show how hard you’ve been working and then it all has to come together on ONE day, at a certain hour, with a certain mindset.”

    I’m sorry to hear the news. Glad you were smart and caught it early. Hope the pool running links I tweeted to you help. I don’t know if you’d even want to TRY for Chicago, but you might want to contact local Jennifer Conroyd of Fluid Running to chat or get tips. She understands. When I had a tendon problem in 2013, I reached out to her via email and she called me (a total stranger, in a different part of the country, on a holiday weekend yet) to talk me down and give me tips.

    For spring – I had my first BQ at Shamrock Virginia Beach in March – only hill is an overpass you do twice. One warning – it’s got some serious wind potential especially in the Fort Story section. But it’s well organized.

    • @jennypoore says:

      Thanks for sharing those links, M! I had that podcast queued up on my phone for awhile and finally listened to it. Giving pool running a shot this afternoon, actually. I don’t think I’m going to be mentally ready for Chicago, although I have to admit that the idea is floating around in my head. Just don’t want to get my hopes up if I need 1 more week in the boot. I’ve heard great things about Shamrock and would love to run a full in either March or April.

  7. susanruns says:

    Oh no! I’m so sorry this happened – it definitely sucks. I’ve never had a stress fracture, but I’ve been injured before (and maybe now, who knows). Sometimes I’ve wished my pain was a stress fracture so I’d have a timeline for recovery. (Ridiculous, I know.) But it’s definitely better to be smart about it now rather than dealing with a longer term injury.

  8. Gracie says:

    I did a lot of deep water running to train through a stress fracture. It gets boring, but I clipped my ipod to a hair band and listened to books on tape.

  9. KatieRuns says:

    I can only imagine your frustration here! But you seem to be doing ALL the right things to ensure a speedy recovery. Keep up your amazing positivity and you’ll be back with a bang in no time at all 🙂

  10. cnbenton says:

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. You’ve always seemed extremely cognizant of injury prevention, so it really sucks that this appears to have come out of nowhere. I was looking forward to hearing how you crushed Chicago after I crossed that finish well behind you!

    I’m hesitant to recommend potentially warm races for big goals, but there is LA in February on Olympic Trials Weekend! Watching them in person in Houston was so awesome in 2012, so I’m looking forward to seeing them again. I’m planning to be there either way (birthday weekend!), but at the moment I’m leaning toward spectating vs. running.

    • @jennypoore says:

      Yeah, it is somewhat random. I haven’t been able to pinpoint anything specific in my training that would have caused the fracture. Could be a simple small biomechanical issue that just decided to show up now. I’m seriously considering spectating the trials in LA as well! Will let you know! (either way, I hope to see you in Chi racing your heart out!)

  11. Steph says:

    Sorry, friend! 😦

    When I had a stress fracture, I did a lot of mat pilates stuff at home and also did a lot of upper body strength training. Check out, she has a lot of good videos and I actually managed to stay in pretty decent shape the 7 weeks I was out!

    Good luck and try to stay positive!

    • @jennypoore says:

      Thanks Steph! I bought two Pilates DVDs this week and will give them a try next weekend. I’m glad that I’m able to modify some of the strength routines that I always do to be non-weightbearing. Hoping to just stay sane the next 5 weeks 🙂

  12. Kate says:

    Your attitude seems pretty solid – stress fractures are no fun, but it’s true that at least you know what you can do and how long you’ll be out. Cross training absolutely saved me during my stress fracture – sweating in whatever way possible kept my spirits up! And running never felt so sweet as when I started again, slowly but surely. My biggest tip: do not rush the comeback. It might be difficult to take it slow and increase the mileage slowly, but it is very worth it. Good luck!

  13. Amy says:

    I’ve suffered two metatarsal fractures, both in the same bone in the same foot. I sympathize with you immensely, especially as a fellow marathoner chasing big PRs. Here’s what’s helped me:
    Exogen bone stimulator (usually you can find one in eBay or craigslist if your insurance doesn’t cover it) to strengthen glutes, abs, and arms (most are non load bearing)
    Camille Herons blog post on stress fractures
    Pool running
    Good luck; in the long run try and work with your doctor or PT to figure out what the cause may have been. Mine was gait. The Gait Guys have a great podcast and blog and a ton of advice. It’s comforting to know others deal with this frustrating injury.

      • Amy says:

        Of course…just saw that you are local too. Being injured this time of year is especially frustrating when everyone else is out on the lakefront path. My hubby is racing this fall and all I can do on the path lately is chase him with my bike. I too missed out on Chicago this fall and it blows…plus being out over $200. Something I saw the other day really hit home: “Turn problems into opportunities!” Use the downtime as an opportunity to find your weaknesses and make them your strengths. There will always be another marathon to do. I mean this in all seriousness, if you need to vent to someone who’s gone through this twice now or if you have any questions that maybe I could help with, I would wholeheartedly love to help you. Best of luck on your road to a stronger you, and PUSH PLAY on blogilates…seriously, if you can finish “Butt on Fire” without crying you deserve a medal.
        Amy (

  14. Jennifer S says:

    Ack! THAT SUCKS!!!!!! Long story short – I had the same thing happen to me. I was training well and starting to feel confident and BAM, stress fracture of my tibia. I was devastated and I wallowed for the 2 months I was in that effing boot. I ate a lot of ice cream and gained 10 pounds. No Bueno.
    You have a solid plan for cross training and I hope it helps to get you back on your feet quickly! Best of luck to you!

  15. debtrisforkona says:

    oh noooo!!! dont worry though – I qualified for Kona 3 months after being hit by a car, and my friend also came 13th in the European modern pentathlon champs just under 2 months after a tibial stress fracture! you can totally do this! mind over matter 🙂

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