The Cost of Overtraining

As mentioned in my previous post, training for my third 1/2 marathon did not go as planned. My foot bothered me, but I ignored the nuisance and pushed through it. I ran those three 1/2 marathons in about a 7-month time span; this was not a good idea. After my third race, I told my parents about it. We both thought that I would be fine and to just see if it got any worse in the next few weeks.

The race was in May of 2017, and from May-July I was pretty active. I took a lot of Les Mills classes, ran a few times, and walked a lot. We went to Pittsburgh for the marathon the next day because my mom was running; I felt fine, and didn’t think much about my foot pain at all. Towards the end of June, we took a trip to Canada for an Alaskan family cruise; I’ll share more about that in another post. In July, we went to Walt Disney World and walked about 7 miles every day.

While In WDW, my foot started really bothering me. I kept ignoring it because I knew we had a few more days left of vacation, and there isn’t much you can do to avoid walking in the parks everyday. I wore sneakers most days, but the one day I decided to wear flip flops. I realized in Epcot that my toe had turned completely black and blue. We immediately went to the first aid center, and they took me to a nearby Urgent Care. The doctor put me in a splint to stabilize my foot, and advised us to go to a podiatrist once we got home. The doctor wasn’t sure what was wrong, but told my mom that it could be a leukemia.

Once we arrived home, we immediately scheduled an appointment with the local podiatrist. The doctor assured us that it was not cancer, but it was a partial tear in my plantar plate. I was placed in a boot and instructed to stop working out. I was pretty upset because August was the start of sophomore year and a busy month: cross country season, marching band, and I had a Les Mills event coming up. Fortunately, I was able to learn the marching band drill and show in my boot.

I am holding a reptile at a local event, and my boot is on my right foot.

After my plantar plate started to heal, I only had a few more weeks with the boot. These few weeks felt like an eternity, but I religiously followed doctor’s orders for a smooth recovery. The next step was physical therapy. I worked on regaining strength in my ankle, stretching out my calf, and gaining strength in my toe. I was happy to be moving again, even if it was limited.

As I progressed through physical therapy, the sessions got more challenging. The final step was building the strength and maintaining proper technique to run. The physical therapy center was attached to the podiatrist’s office, so I was assured that everything I was doing was prescribed by the doctor. The first step to running was running in an AlterG treadmill. Basically, I put specialized pants on while the treadmill filled with air. It is called an anti-gravity treadmill because it lifts you off the treadmill ground. As I progressed, less air was used; I was able to run without feeling the weight of the ground. Eventually, I moved onto a regular treadmill.

After about three-four months, I was ready to begin moderate activity again. I was out of the boot and physical therapy, but still had a splint to wear inside my sneaker. I also learned how to tape my toe to keep it in position. For the next few months, I was very careful. I made sure not to overdo it, and didn’t take as many Les Mills classes or go on any runs. I had regular appointments with the podiatrist to see how I was healing, and made sure to keep doing my exercises physical therapy taught me. I was scared to overtrain because the podiatrist told me that if I tore my plantar plate again, I would need surgery.

I decided to run track and see how I felt. This was a few months after I finished physical therapy, and was in the spring of 2018. I ended up only being able to race at one or two meets because my foot bothered me. I went back to the podiatrist, and he warned me again about not overdoing my training and ruining my recovery. I knew it wasn’t worth it, so I was very cautious and stopped running altogether.

Now, I don’t run very often. I spend most of my time taking Les Mills classes at the gym, and I’ve found that I don’t miss running that much. For Christmas, I got scuba diving classes. At the end of the course, I will be a certified PADI open water diver. I am still very active and will continue to workout regularly because it is something I am very passionate about and enjoy a lot, but time will tell how much running will be part of my life. I am sure I will miss it at some point, and I know I want to run a marathon eventually, but for now I am listening to my body and taking a break. My biggest takeaway from this entire injury/recovery process is to always listen to your body, and don’t take warning signs for granted.


julia grace

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