Cape Town Marathon Diary: The dreaded Metatarsal

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Sport360's Stuart Appleby may not be able to compete in Cape Town.

I ended my first diary entry mentioning that I was still experiencing discomfort in my left foot from a fall while running in June. Although the pain subsided initially, it had returned over the past two weeks and after consultation with a doctor and an x-ray, it was confirmed I had a hairline stress fracture on my third metatarsal (if you look closely at the lead image you can see the line).

To say that this news has come as a blow would be a big understatement given that it comes less than seven weeks before the Cape Town Marathon, the race for which I’d been giving my all in training this year to try and run a sub-3 hour time over the distance for the first time.

It’s also fair to say this injury setback will now realistically make it very difficult for me to compete on September 18 in South Africa. The theme and direction of this training diary will also have to change tack as a consequence.

I’ve been told that the recovery time for this injury can range from four to six weeks, to even two to three months. Rushing the recovery process will ultimately cause long-term damage and effect my ability to run well in the near future, so that’s something I need to be aware of.

David Beckham famously fractured his second metatarsal in the lead-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup. I’ve been waiting 26 years to have something in common with Becks so I may as well seize my chance now!

Jokes aside, for those of you not too familiar with metatarsals, they are the five long bones in the front of the foot and connect the ankle bones with those of the toes. They are located between the tarsal bones mid-foot and the phalanges of the toes.

I have injured my third metatarsal.

I have injured my third metatarsal (X-ray image).

The reason why the injury is so painful is that metatarsals act as the main load-bearing part of the foot and the most common causes of injury are over-use or a direct blow to the foot, which is more or less what I suffered having stubbed my foot into the base of a Dubai Marina pavement slab at speed last month.

I’m currently immobilising the injury with an Aircast boot and I’m hopeful this will help me get on track swiftly this week while stocking up on calcium supplements and boosting my diet with fibre.

I’ll be resting as much as possible over the next few weeks, elevating and icing my foot in the process. Having read around the injury, the first and fifth metatarsals are the worst and most common bones to break, mainly because they bare the bulk of the body weight.

So, the fact I have injured my third could yet be a blessing in disguise. Or at least I hope.

Until next week, over and out.

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