One of the most requested posts is about my personal history with running injuries. Since starting running in college, I’ve blogged through my entire running career. In fact, the whole reason I started my blog in 2010 was that I started running. It’s fun to look back and see how life has drastically changed since age 20.
In my early twenties, I learned some hard lessons about the sport. Since I have a “unique form,” to say the least, I’m more prone to foot injuries. My biomechanics load weight onto my metatarsals (toes). I rarely have serious muscular issues, but I’ve had my fair share of stress fractures. I’ve gotten bone density scans and DEXA and been normal (which was my biggest fear).
Growing up as a swimmer and swimming for 2-4 hours, most days were common. You definitely cannot do that for running and it was a lesson I learned really quickly.
In my late twenties, I’ve run less and run easier. I’ve taken more rest days, and been injured less. In fact, my calcaneus stress fracture was my first serious running injury in about 4 years.
BUT I haven’t always stayed injury-free, and I have several injuries throughout the years. Before recently, my blog could have alternative names such as fueledbyInjuries or InjuriesNlolz.
If I gave myself advice in my early years of running it would be:
You can’t outrun an injury.
Rest days save rest seasons.
If you are worried, rest. Resting a few days often saves you from resting a few weeks, months, or even years. You don’t gain fitness in a day and you definitely don’t lose it either.
When I first started running in 2010, I had many years of haphazard running. It took a lot of trial and error and learning from experience to determine what works best for me.
You can read my full running story here (or in one of the headings above).
I began running in July 2010. I ran off and on and was still a member of my collegiate swim team. Swim season lasted from September until late February, so there was no running during that time. During the off-season, we were allowed to work out as we pleased, so eventually, I picked up running.
Here is my History with Injuries:
My first serious running injury: Tibial Stress Fracture (July 2011-September 2011)
How it happened:
I ran every day for an hour on the treadmill. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to train fast every single day or you’ll get an overuse injury. I thought to race faster you must train faster. So every day, I made the goal to beat the previous day’s mileage for 1 hour. I never ran for more than an hour, but I ran seven days a week. I was running between 7-7:15 pace for an hour.
Ultimately I was far more exhausted from running 50 miles then when I run 70 or 80 miles per week. My body broke at a road race on my 21st birthday. Midway through a run-swim-run race, my body broke, My tibia fractured and I was done. Sometimes tibia stress fractures can be confused as shin splints, but my warning sign was it was in one leg, and I couldn’t run at all. I could barely walk.
I learned more about myself than any other running injury. To be honest, I needed that injury to realize my training was idiotic and not right. My tibial stress fracture shaped my training to include a lot more easy miles. I don’t time my easy runs anymore, and I don’t GAF whether the pace is 10 minutes or 8 minutes. If you follow me on Strava, you know my paces range anywhere from 8-10 min miles.
Cyst: August 2012-October 2012:
How it happened:
During September 2012, I developed a cyst in the high arch of my foot. The doctors still don’t know exactly how it formed it could have developed anywhere in my body (I’m so thankful it wasn’t my brain). At first, it as diagnosed as the plantar fascia and tight calves, but an MRI confirmed it was a cyst.
They don’t believe it was running related, but it prevented me from running. I was able to run with minimal pain until the cyst became large enough to rip the muscle from my bone. After tearing the muscle off my metatarsal, it halted running completely.
After recovering for two months and a cortisone shot to reduce the swelling, I came back and ran my fastest college cross country race.
Fractured Elbow (August 2013):
How it happened:
Not quite a running injury but effected my running. While cooling down at a road race in August 2013, I was hit by a cyclist. I was knocked to the ground, and it fractured my elbow. I was devastated, but after a week, I was able to run slowly.
I decreased mileage, but it ended up being the most nonserious elbow fracture I could have. At the time, the decline in mileage was terrifying because I was training for my first marathon, NYCM. I was also in the midst of moving cross country to live with my now-husband, Tim.
It taught me; you have to roll with the punches. A few days of rest does not impact fitness.
Second Metatarsal Fracture (August 2014)
How it happened:
Fast forward to moving to Texas, running my first marathon, and then New Jersey. In August of 2014, I got a second metatarsal fracture. I upped my mileage too quickly. Even though I was running easy, I think my mileage went up too fast. At the time, I was training for my second marathon, Wineglass. I healed by race day, but it would have been dumb to run a marathon on a newly recovered stress fracture. To be honest, I don’t think my heart was ready to race another marathon, and it was a good out. Of any running injury, the second metatarsal was the most painful.
Bum Butt (February 2015-March 2015)
How it happened:
My bum butt was my first serious muscle injury. I tweaked something running my second marathon in gluteus maximus and kept running. Around mile 18, my butt started to throb. By the end of the marathon, my whole left side was in pain. Should I have finished the race? Probably not…Did I PR? Yes…
I didn’t heal as fast as I should have because I continued to run after the marathon. I took two weeks off (which helped), but then I ran too hard too fast. Looking back, I made good progress and then threw it all away, running again. This is something I’m 100% kicking myself for…even though I had an excellent time at Shamrock 2015.
What did I learn? If I had taken a month off, I wouldn’t have had two months to deal with the issues. I also learned that I needed to take better care of myself on the recovery standpoint including getting more Graston and ART. It led me to Dr. Kemnoshes’ team and good friend Dr. Craig (seriously if you have a muscle injury go see them).
Ankle Fracture June 2016:
How it Happened:
In June of 2016, something felt off. I couldn’t pinpoint it, and it almost felt like plantar fasciitis on the outside of my foot. An X-ray confirmed I had a minor fracture. The fracture healed with time off, but it worried something else was not right. Test results found my calcium, vitamin D, and blood levels were fine. I was worried because we had no answers.
One thing my ankle fracture taught me was I liked hiking. After healing, I spent a good portion of the summer hiking and enjoying the outdoors that way.
I learned that running in pain isn’t worth it to me.
Pulled Hamstring August 2019:
I hesitate to call this a serious injury because it was the product of bad timing, which made me miss my marathon. My hamstring was more of an acute injury. In the week leading up to Big Cottonwood Marathon, I hurt my hamstring. I now think it was running 18.12 miles in the Nike Next% a shoe that doesn’t work for me. I had to pull the plug on my marathon less than a week before I was supposed to run. It was hard, but it taught me, there will be other races. Ultimately, it resolved itself in about three weeks. If it was four weeks before the race, maybe I could have run.
Calceanous Stress Fracture: March 2020-May 2020
When I first found out I had a heel stress fracture, it was weird. I don’t land much on my heels, so to be injured, there was abnormal. After doing research, I learned it could be caused by a tight calf muscles and Achilles tendon, which was my issue. I learned that the Nike Next% shoe doesn’t work for me (a shoe I can pretty much trace back to my last two injuries).
This also taught me that you really just never know until you get imaging. My doctors and I had assumed it was muscular related, but the MRI showed it was a stress fracture in the calcaneus. If I hadn’t got imaging, it would have been treated in a completely different way.
You cannot outrun a running injury, and it will catch up to you.
I tell any runner, new or old; there is no shame in rest and easy days. I am to the point in life and running that it will never be my sole purpose in life. Resting and staying healthy is more important to me than running every day. If you believe you have a running injury, see a medical professional or sports medicine doctor. Don’t Web MD it and it’s better to know. Web MD won’t have good medical advice for your running injury.
This sounds like I’m injured all of the time, but it was over 10 years. Most of them were many years ago and through blogging, I’ve been able to keep a detailed log of each. My motto now is running can be life long, if you let it.
If you read this entire post, my biggest piece of advice is rest is always best. It might stink to rest a few days but you can’t outrun injury.
Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport.
Question for you: Have you had a running injury before?