When to return to running after stress fracture?

Ok, blog readers with a previous stress fracture, question for you:  How did you know when you were ready to try running again?  Did you do “the hop test”?  Did you have a follow up MRI or bone scan?  Did you “just know”?

I am MUCH better.  I’m finishing up my 6th week since the confirmed diagnosis of stress fracture (10th week since injury).  So 10 weeks of no running.  I have can bike (on trainer), water run, and power walk (i.e. fast walking where I look like a dork) without pain.  I can do the power walking for 60 minutes without pain.

But I don’t think I’m ready to return to running.  I still don’t FEEL 100%.  The stress fracture area is still a little bothersome – not painful – just not 100% right – at times.  And when I try the “single leg hop test” on that leg (which I tried for first time tonight), it hurts. Whereas where I hop on the other leg it’s fine.  So it that – the single leg hop test – the way you really tell if you’re ready?

I did contact the doc and request a follow up MRI before I return to running and, without question, she put in the order for it.  So I scheduled it for 2 1/2 weeks from now.  With a follow up appointment a few days later with the doctor to go over results.  But I’m thinking that if I can’t do the hop test, I should postpone the MRI (especially when I got the bill today for the first MRI today.  Anyone have $1003.19 that I can borrow?  Ouch.

Thoughts on when you know that you should return to running?  At this point I don’t want to push it.  I’m at the point where I do wish I could run, but the ache inside me of missing it (cheesy, I know) has pretty much gone away.

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