Most of you know, I have suffered with Mortons neuroma for many years. If you have never heard of it, it’s a foot condition that affects one of the nerves between the toes. A nerve in the foot becomes irritated and thickened which can cause severe pain. The condition can occur in one foot or both feet. It usually affects the nerve between third and fourth toes, but sometimes the second and the third toes are affected. A tingling sensation in the space between the toes gets worse over time and develops into a sharp shooting pain in the ball of the foot or at the base of the toes.
Mine started about 2006 in one foot when I used to spend many weekends in the Lake District fell walking. It was manageable although annoying.
I started running in 2012 which aggravated it but was still bearable. It was only when I started to increase the distance and time on my feet whilst training for the Lakeland 50 that it got progressively worse and I then had it in both feet. Thankfully, I got through the training and the event in 2015.
In 2016, it got very bad. I dreaded training runs and it started causing problems for normal day to day walking and on some nights, keeping me awake with pain in my toes.
Last year on the Ultimate Trails 55k, the pain was unbearable from 10 miles until the finish at 35 miles. At that point, I decided something more drastic had to be done. I had tried foot pads, wider fitting shoes, orthotics and a steroid injection but nothing helped. I either kept doing shorter races or took the last option of surgery which had an 80% chance of being successful.
So, on the 23rd December 2016, I had surgery which involved an incision on the top of the foot to remove the neuroma and as the surgeon put it ‘chopping the nerves’ leaving the area between the toes permanently numb. The surgery went well although the recovery time is longer than I had anticipated. The surgeon said ‘no running for three months but do what is comfortable’ so I obviously equated this to mean ‘two months’ or at least get cycling after two months, that was my goal.
Being so active, it was difficult to think about doing nothing for a couple of months but I had to be patient. I had crutches so there was only one thing for it. A timed mile on crutches, ha, ha! I did this a few times, got quicker each time and it entertained me anyway.
After four weeks, I cycled 5 miles to get the legs moving and enjoyed cycling a few times a week although I didn’t enjoy the British weather. I was very keen to test a one mile run.
4th February, six week’s post op I decided to ignore not just the surgeon, but also my two-month recovery plan. I tried a one mile run. It was at the 3-1-5 Lancaster 5k while the race was on. My foot felt fine and it was a comfortable run, bonus.
11th February, I managed to run another mile with no adverse effects (except for a little swelling and discomfort afterwards) while supporting and taking photos at cross country. This was going well, I thought.
15th February, I decided another run was due. Everything was good until I reached a mile, then I had terrible calf pain and did the walk of shame home.
22nd February, unfortunately the same thing happened again, my foot was comfortable but my calf was not. I was quite disappointed but had to put things into perspective and have a little more patience. I have friends who are dealing with REAL health issues. I am lucky, mine is temporary.
28th February, eventually I managed to run a mile with no foot or calf pain. What a relief, this really felt like a turning point.
I immediately thought about doing the 3-1-5 Lancaster 5k, to just jog and finish. However, someone said ‘3-2-1 go’. I set off too quick and then wanted to keep that pace. I caught up with Steve Taylor only because his shoe lace had come undone! He raced past me and then I caught him again. I really thought I was going to finish ahead of Steve, (who had also run Lancaster parkrun beforehand) however, Richard from Garstang was beasting him to the finish and he overtook me in the final half mile. Damn! (So much for “just jog and finish”). I finished in 27:22 which isn’t a PB by a long way which doesn’t matter. I was just so pleased to finish with only a little foot pain.
Damian asked me after the race ‘did I enjoy it’. My reply, ‘I actually hate running, it’s the feeling I get afterwards, being part of the club, the achievement and seeing everyone is what I enjoy’.
I have an entry to the Lakeland 50 at the end of July this year (along with a few other Red Rose Road Runners) after spending a whole weekend volunteering for it in 2016. At this stage, I am not sure if I will even make the start line. I will try to increase the mileage and ascent slowly however the healing process could take up to six months. I should have a better idea by April but it may be too late to get sufficient training in. If I don’t make the start line, I will be there supporting. Fingers and toes crossed!
A special thank you to everyone who has wished me well, asked about me, visited, messaged, listened and supported me. It is really appreciated.
Best of luck for whatever you are training for.
Happy running everyone