I'm not sure which forum board to post under for "Owies", so if this isn't the right one, someone can change it for me.
So it's 2 weeks before my goal race- The Sugar Bottom Trail Run- and I believe I have something called Metatarsalgia. I've looked it up a bit and they symptoms seem right on, though I've yet to see a doc about it.
At first I thought I had just bruised my foot (left foot under 2nd toe) from running on gravel and hitting those occasional big rocks. Then I thought I was just a tender foot after having to take several days off in a row for more pressing matters. Then I thought I was just a wuss after having taken a pre-race run on the course, which winds back and forth and up and down. Finally I headed to the store thinking I needed a better shoe- a trail shoe. I ended up purchasing my original pairs (Bikila and Minimus) because I had reached my mileage limit months ago with them.
Today, I'm limping like I've got a marble glued underfoot. (The new shoes did increase my overall comfort, though... something one doesn't realize until you put on new shoes.)
What to do?!!
Is it RICE for me with little running? The RICE part is fine- the little running part is what I'm not ok with. With all the time off so far, I don't feel like I can take much more time off.
I could write a book back to you but will keep my thoughts short. I experienced something similar last year (over stressed 4th toe right foot) during a 30 mile trail run (lots of course gravel) wearing New Balance Minimus. I determined that my feet + that type of surface + those shoes don't equal healthy running. I've gone to a New Balance 110 trail shoe. These are still Minimus, but have rock protection in the sole. I've run a very rocky-trail 50k in these shoes with no issue. Summary - find the right shoes for your feet and the surface.
As for the race, I ran through the discomfort...I don't call it pain. It lasted months and I still feel it every once in a while (it's been over a year). You have to do what's best for you and endure what you can. To me, races are just the graduation ceremony. It's the work/process leading up the the event that's important.
If red/swollen and painful when you are OFF your feet as well, you might consider x-ray. Could be fracture.
I've recently dealt with this problem. Thankfully, there are several models of shoes that retain a minimalist approach (in terms of low/no drop, minimal/no support, minimal/no motion control) while providing a bit more protection from rocks. I do like the MT101s (the MT110 is newer and improved) that Dente mentioned, but I found after a season of training/racing in them that my creaky feet needed just a little more protection in response to the exact same condition that you have. If I'm running on dirt road or relatively tame trails, I run in the Brooks Pure Grit. It runs a little "soft," but the cushioning is great as long as you are not hitting sharp rocks. For the rockier trails that we run in north Texas, I love the Innov-8 Flyroc 310. It is a significantly firmer ride, but has outstanding rock protection. Between better shoes, daily use of Yamuna Footsavers (check them out on google or amazon), and following Eric's guidance on foot and glute strengthening, my feet are really healthy this year. Two other shoes of this type that are intriguing, but I haven't tried yet, are the Altra Lone Peak (zero drop, supposedly significant cushioning and max rock protection ... in exchange for slightly higher weight) and Innov-8's line of TrailRoc shoes that are coming out in Fall. And I also can't wait for Eric's Endurance Trail shoe to come out.