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.

Digg this

6 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.

  3. Erin November 6th, 2014 2:40 pm

    Scott, thanks for posting this. There isn’t a whole lot of info about there about what recovery is like for this surgery and I’m considering having it.

    Like you there wasn’t one single thing that caused my problem, it was cumulative from old injuries, bad biomechanics, etc. and one day a year ago I got out of bed and things were really not right with the ankle. I got a steroid shot 11 months ago, it helped for several months but after a yoga session a couple of weeks ago it started getting worse again. I still can’t run, do cardio classes, yoga, bike, or swim without aggravating it. The pain isn’t that bad if I don’t do anything besides walk, but I’m only 43 and can’t see going through the rest of my life like this!

    My orthopedist says the shot helped the symptoms but not the root cause, I’m having an MRI next week but she’s positive there’s a tear. She said some of her patients can’t get back to running after this surgery, which alarmed me, but she seemed to think I could do most other things eventually and I’m encouraged that you are able to run.

    Thanks for the info!

  4. Judi Milin May 18th, 2015 10:36 pm

    After reading about your success being able to continue running my spirits are lifted. I’ve been “grounded” now for over a year with ankle swelling from even a short walk. The avulsion is noticeable. My MRI will be in a few days. Thanks for your courage, tenacity and willingness to share!

  5. Katie January 24th, 2016 12:50 pm

    Thanks for this post. I had surgery 01/18 to address 2 tears to my peroneus brevis. One tear was quiet large at 7 cm so my time on crutches has been extended from 2 weeks to 4-6 weeks. I also had my tubercle removed, which was believed to have contributed to the tear. I’ve already been casted for new orthodics to help address the root cause, with PT beginning as soon as I am in a boot. I did a TON of research and see published studies of good outcomes, but appreciate you sharing your experience. I am a 3:05 marathoner, but at this point just want to be able to enjoy my sport again on a daily basis. I’d love to hear how you are doing these days!

  6. Scott January 25th, 2016 7:34 am


    Good luck with your recovery. Be as dedicated to the PT as you are when marathon training, and be as disciplined about returning to running slowly as you are about piling on mileage when marathon training, and you should come out okay.

    My situation these days is excellent. For 2014 (surgery was April 2013) I had a bit more than 2,800 miles. Most of that was just running. In 2015 I had just over 3,000 miles, and that was what most people would consider training–regular workouts of short turnover sessions, tempo runs, 5K pace intervals, long runs, short recovery days, etc. I have no pain in the area operated on, and I feel like my mechanics are similar to what they were pre-injury. I seem to get slower by the week, but that feels related to age and too much sitting rather than specifically because of the peroneal situation.

    I remain diligent about non-running exercises–stretching, drills, core, hip and butt strengthening, etc. On some short running days I spend more time doing “extra” stuff than I do running. I’m happy to make this investment in staying healthy.

Leave a reply