Last year I began running for my school's cross-country team. I started in early July two months before the season began. Part way through the season i began experiencing ball of foot pain during movement most noticably running. After the season ended I didnt't run much and eventually forgot about the pain. I then ran during track season in the spring. Early in the season i experienced no pain but as i continued to run the pain returned. I am now currently training for the upcoming cross-country season and am experiencing the same pain again. I have researched this pain a good amount and I am thinking that it may be Metatarsalgia although i have no idea. I am wondering if anyone has had similar problems and what they have done to combat the,. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Metatarsalgia might describe the condition, or result, but it is more important to determine the cause of this overuse injury, By now you have settled into your running style, and I would suspect you are an overpronator, but there is also the possibility that the ball of your foot has less fat padding than average, which may be due to individual genetics. I'm not saying that you can't toughen up the bottom of your foot over time, but the typical x/c competition schedule may be too aggressive to allow enough time for this before the damage is done.
What I see that may have been a problem for you, is that you spent your off-season not running "much," and the opportunity to toughen up those feet with easier training was largely lost. If you want to be a strong competitor in season, that is what the off-season is for.. toughening up with less risk. My advice is to "red shirt" this season and spend it training easier, for a glorious return later on your newly toughened feet. Less pressure this way, and less opportunity for permanent damage.
Meanwhile, have your gait analyzed by a professional with sports-med experience, preferably a physical therapist, and do what corrections need to be done to minimize damage next season. My apologies if there is no next season, but no sporting glory is worth throwing away your health. Good luck!