Chicago Marathon: TBD

Theoretically, this was going to be the post where I was all, “Hooray, marathon season is here! Let me tell you all about my goals for the next 18 weeks of my life!”

Real talk: at this moment, I truly do not know if I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon, or if I’ll be running anything for quite some time, and/or ever again.

Here’s the background: I ran all winter, yes? Spent a lot of time on the ‘mill, did speedwork for the first time, watched all my hard work pay off to the tune of a 5K PR, 8K PR, 10 miler PR, and half marathon PR. High fives all around. Throughout this time, I had the normal aches and pains that come along with being active, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary. I had some IT-band-area issues that were really outer thigh issues (I had no knee pain, so I was told it was an outer thigh thing by one of my former PTs who checked me out), but nothing beyond that.

After Ravenswood on April 27, I did two things. Thing #1: Replace regular running with regular yoga, subbing in the one weekday run while keeping up my Saturday long runs. Thing #2: I retired my Asics Gel-Cumulus 15s and began alternating between New Balance Fresh Foams (weekdays) and Asics Gel-Cumulus 16s (Saturdays). I wasn’t entirely sold on the Fresh Foams, but they did a good enough job. I ran in the Cumulus 16s for the first time on a four miler on May 3. I noticed numbness in my feet, but I had had a long day by the time I got out for my run, and I chalked it up to that and my first time in those shoes. I don’t remember if I experienced subsequent numbness in the Fresh Foams, but I do remember experiencing numbness in the 16s the two other times I ran in them, so I returned them, bumped my shoes up half a size, and bought a new pair of Asics Gel-Cumulus 15s, which are what I ran in for all of marathon season in 2013.

I ran in my Fresh Foams on May 21 (don’t remember if I experienced numbness or not) and then ran for the first time in my new pair of 15s on a six miler on May 24. Lo and behold, my toes went numb again. Now, the numbness wasn’t as pronounced–in the 16s, I’d get numbness on the ball of my right foot and around my big toe and second toe on that same foot, and occasionally in a similar area on my left foot, but always after my right toes went numb–but it was definitely still there. On May 25, I got the stomach flu, took four straight 100% rest days (unless mini golf counts as exercise), and went for a run in the 15s again on May 29. This run sucked for a variety of reasons: I woke up that morning feeling sick again, I hadn’t had a particularly well balanced diet for the previous four days, and it was HOT. Once again, though, my toes went numb at mile 2.25 (this was the first time I had thought to make a note of when I experienced numbness). I took a brief walk break during my run to see if that would help things, and it kind of did, but the numbness came back once I began running again. I checked my feet as soon as I got home, and saw that they looked totally normal, leading me to believe my numbness was nerve-related, not circulation-related.

On June 1, I went for a four miler in my Fresh Foams to see what would happen. It was another miserable hot morning, and, yet again, I experienced toe numbness starting at mile 2.25. I didn’t run any more for the week until this past Saturday. On my six miler Saturday (this time in the 15s), my numbness didn’t appear until mile 2.75, and it wasn’t quite as pronounced as before, but it was, without a doubt still there.

Cue breakdown.

I had three full blown panic attacks over this between Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, and I lost count of how many other cry sessions I’ve had. For experimentation’s sake, I wore my old Cumulus 15s on an easy, easy three miler Sunday morning. At mile two or so, I started to feel like a seam of my sock had gotten under my second toe on my right foot…but there wasn’t actually a seam there. I wouldn’t call it numbness, at least not like normal, but I also wouldn’t call it normal.

I’ve had no other symptoms throughout the duration of all of this. Sometimes my outer thigh would be a little tender when foam rolling, but that was it. No calf pain (except on Sunday, when I woke up feeling a little knot of soreness in my right calf [that did, admittedly, have my awareness all day, which could have impacted things], no shin pain, no foot pain, no other nerve pain whatsoever. I can–and have–walked miles in unsupportive footwear without any trouble. Nothing has bothered me in dance. I never felt anything doing yoga. I timed it on Saturday, and within a minute of finishing my run, my numbness had substantially subsided, and within five minutes it was completely gone.

I’m hoping to get into the PT for an injury screen ASAP, and unless the PT strongly suggests otherwise, I’ll probably try to get an appointment with my sports doctor and potentially a podiatrist as well. In the mean time, I’m not entirely sure what to do with marathon training. Realistically, I could probably skip the bulk of these first three weeks (perhaps with the exception of the seven miler on week two) and still feel like I would be able to get through the remainder of training (provided I kept my cardiovascular fitness up, that is). At this point, though, I feel like everything–my marathon training, the marathon in general, my running, period–is up in the air until we figure out what’s causing my numbness. I’m hoping and praying that it’s nothing (while fearing it is definitely something, and probably not something good or easy). Have I mentioned I still need to raise about $600 for the Organization for Autism Research, regardless of whether I run the marathon on not? Yeah. Awesome.

So that’s where things stand at the moment. Happy Monday, eh?

23 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon: TBD

  1. Ouch! Sorry to hear about the foot numbness. I had something similar (numbness, pulses) last summer and I attributed it to new (ill fitting) shoes and wearing new insoles. It took awhile for it to subside even when I took out the insoles and switched shoes back to my old make/model. You still have plenty of time for marathon training. I did a nine week Chicago Marathon cycle last year and did okay. Here’s hoping your PT, sports doc and Podiatrist can figure it out quickly!

  2. I hope the doc/PT are able to help! This just sounds like a bad shoe fitting issue, like Pete said. Did you always wear a half or full size larger? Have you considered that your feet might be more swollen in the summer and you need more space in your shoe? Don’t fret, you’ll be able to run!

    (A long shot… but do you need to clip your toenails? When I don’t clip mine, they hit the end of my shoe and make my foot numb… which happened to me a few weeks ago cause I am keeping the dumb things long for a pedicure this Friday).

      • I’ve been running in shoes that were half a size larger than my normal street shoes, but after all of this started with the Cumulus 16s, Universal Sole bumped me up to an full size larger than my street shoe. The numbness starts for me around mile 2.25 and continues on no matter how far I run. I haven’t gone beyond 6 miles since this all started, but it usually worsens the farther I go. I do like that toe nail suggestion, though — I haven’t trimmed mine in a while and will have to see if that makes a difference!

  3. Hopefully you can get this diagnosed and fixed. I’ve been having knee issues lately and went through the same “OMG there go my marathon plans” mental freak out. Then I went for an injury screen and they said it’s probably just really tight muscles and I had a painful sports massage and things seem to be MUCH better. Hopefully if you’re just experiencing numbness and no pain, it’s just a matter of finding the right shoes (in the right size) and you can get on with training.

  4. I hope that the doc is able to offer good suggestions on how to get rid of this.

    I’ve had some numb foot issues in the past. Early on due to poor shoe fit and being a newbie runner. I do get foot numbness sometimes now as well. It occurs usually when I am running on softer surfaces (gravel paths) and tight calves. I haven’t actually gone to a doctor or PT for this, but just throwing it out there for you to consider.

    Have you tried loosening up the front of your shoe laces?

    Good luck and I hope you have answers soon!

  5. I’ve never had foot numbness but my mom had a long spell of random foot numbness when she tried a new brand/type of running shoe. It took her a while but she finally found a pair that works for her (Asics, I believe). I’m in no way qualified to comment on this but maybe your foot shape has changed in the past few months and you need a different shoe? I know that mine are a lot narrower right now because I’m not running as much as I normally do so my running shoes actually feel a little bit big and I’m getting experiencing extra rubbing.

    Either way, I hope you figure it out soon and that its something minor. I know Pete commented this above but I do think you could run Chicago on a shorter training plan (there are quite a few 12 week plans). You ran a lot this winter and had some great running gains plus this isn’t your first marathon! Its definitely scary to have to change up training plans and it may mean sacrificing a big PR but if you have to take a few weeks off I bet you could get to the starting line in October and run a pretty great marathon :).

    • Shoe problems seem to be the most common theme, so it’s possible something’s happened with my feet that’s changed things, whether that’s from more running, less running, life in general…who knows! I appreciate the reassurance, though. I know there are a lot of other shorter training plans out there, and having a little experience makes me feel a little more comfortable with taking time off if need be and tackling a shorter plan instead.

  6. Gahhhh this is so, so frustrating. Obviously you know I understand this well. I got your email but didn’t have wifi for awhile so I’ll try to respond asap! I hope the PT is able to figure out what could be causing the problem!

  7. Bethany! NOOOO!!! I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. I know how much it sucks for your training plans to be in limbo. =( But like you said, at least this is happening early in the summer so you do have some time to figure things out and try to heal up. I am praying for you and hope that you get some answers quickly. I wish you a speedy recovery!

  8. Sooooo sorry to hear this, girl! But listen, I DON’T think this means you can never run again. Even if it’s annoying and you have to keep going to the doctor until you get an answer, there are very few injuries that put you out forever! I have a friend who docs thought would have to have her entire knee replaced, but she just had surgery and was told that even she should be able to run on grass after recovering! So don’t give up! Really hoping it’s just shoes! Fingers crossed!

  9. Pingback: Chicago Marathon Training Week 1 | accidental intentions

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