Scott Douglas’ Terse Bloviation

Peroneal Surgery #6: Keep Hope Alive

It’s now been a bit more than 10 months since I had surgery to repair my two right peroneal tendons. For those contemplating or recovering from the procedure, I hope that this update will give you some hope.

Overall, things are going well with the foot. I’m back to daily running, and starting to do what almost feels like training. The foot is still very much in my thoughts daily, but I’m largely able to live how I want, with a few exceptions noted below.

During the fall I stayed conservative in returning to running. I didn’t have a seven-day stretch of running every day until October, six months after the surgery. By mid October I had built up my long run so that I was able to complete the Runner’s World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, PA. This was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had at a race, even though I wasn’t racing and I ran almost half an hour slower than my half marathon PR.

I’d done a 12-miler, really gently paced, a few weeks before the half. The next two weekends, when I was trying to keep upping my long run, my mechanics got sloppy early on, and I cut the runs short, to something like 10 miles. (Then, and even now, my thinking was/is, my foot can’t afford to bear the brunt of my running poorly. As I was still getting used to running regularly, this happened more often then than now.) So in the half, I just wanted to run comfortably and have it be a positive experience. I started with the 1:45 pace group (8:00/mile), moved up as I felt like doing so, and finished in 1:37:57. It was the most I’d felt like a runner in a year.

My point in droning on about an unremarkable run that’s now four months ago is that it was useful to have that modest-but-slightly-demanding goal (”feel good comfortably finishing the RW Half on October 20″) as I got back into running. Although I wasn’t training, just getting used to running, it helped to have a first benchmark to work toward.

Things kept going well after the half. I was on vacation the second week of the month and felt I could push things a little more than during normal life. I wound up with 65 miles that week, which is still the highest week I’ve had since surgery. At the end of the month, I ran the 4-mile Thanksgiving race in Portland with the goal of breaking 28:00 without too much duress. I wound up running 26:43, and it felt good to do something sustained harder than I’d been running, and for my foot to not bother me doing so.

December was a setback. I discovered after it was too late that snow and ice and the uneven footing they cause are a challenge. I had too many days of taking too many bad steps, and around Christmas time my foot felt as bad as it had a year earlier, pre-surgery. I was really despondent for a few days. I missed a bunch of days of running. But it turned out to be a flare-up, not serious re-injury. I was able to resume progressing in January, and averaged 51 miles a week for the month, a little more than I had in November. After December’s setback, I felt like I was starting from scratch in terms of building my long run. As of last Sunday, the longest I’ve been is 17. My plan is to keep building on that leading up to the Boston Marathon on April 21, where my goal is what it was for the half in October–to be fit enough to enjoy myself running comfortably for the entire distance.

The only other race I’ve been at was a local 10-miler at the beginning of February. I kept with a modest goal–to break 70:00 with as little duress as possible–and was happy to run 69:27 without having to work all that hard. Sustaining faster running is still more of a challenge mechanically than cardiovascularly. I’ve started to do one hard workout a week, such as this morning’s session of 5 x 5:00, but probably won’t do any real racing until after Boston, because I don’t want to introduce another variable that could interfere with that goal.

Again, I hope that someone reading this can see that you should be able to gradually work your way back to close to pre-surgery normality. I still ice my foot after every run. I still do my PT exercises almost daily. And I still limit where I run and walk to minimize the chance of bad steps. (For example, as I write this we’re getting tons of snow, so I assume I’ll be on the treadmill tomorrow). But running feels so much better than it did at this time last year, we’re at mid-February and I’ve missed only one day of running so far this year, and I can reliably plan on running with friends, which is great.

Sorry this is long, and sorry that I’m feeling too lazy to proof it before publishing.

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2 Comments so far

  1. walt February 16th, 2014 7:19 am

    Sorry to read of your surgery and the long trip back. Very best for excellent health and many enjoyable miles.

  2. Alexander b. May 17th, 2014 7:55 am

    Hello Scott. I seem to be having similar pain around my ankle as to what you are describing. While reading all of your posts I am becoming incredibly inspired by your recovery. I am worried about my symptoms as I have sprained my ankle about a month ago and then sprained it again while not properly resting it. I’m worried that my peroneal tendons are damaged. I have only pain on the outside of my ankle now and it’s really causing me worry. I feel as if you are a great role model through these messages and I am trying to be patient but I haven’t gotten an MRI and I have been told I have tendinitis. I am seeking some advice as a 24 year old young man that absolutely loves to hike and run I would like some help. Even to hear some advice over the phone if possible? Your story truly is inspirational. I hope we can get a chance to talk.

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