I didn’t want to believe that my injury was real and ran through the pain for a long time. I figured I could just tough it out, as if it was the last climb in a gut-wrenching series of hill repeats. I should have known better.

Dressed in a humble medical gown, I sat on the crinkly, paper-covered table in the examination room waiting for orthopedic surgeon to tell me everything was fine. I’d spent the previous two days hobbling about like a toddler, searching for hand holds to steady myself as I moved around my home.  Just 7 months before, I had finished the NYC Marathon and qualified for Boston.

I considered my training. I was running 40-50 miles per week. Short runs of 5-6 miles and long runs of 12-14. I took a day or two off each week. In the days preceding my crippling injury I had run:

  • Saturday: 8 mile tempo run
  • Sunday: 13 mile long run
  • Monday: 6×1 mile repeats @ 5K race pace with a 2-mile warm up and cool down

This seemed reasonable to me. After all, I was hoping to run sub 1:25:00 in an upcoming half marathon. I figured I stood a decent chance at winning my last race in the 40-44 age group. I just needed to get back out there.

The doctor came in and asked a few questions.

How long has it been hurting?

Me: 6 weeks

When does it hurt?

Me: When I run. After I run. Sometimes it’s worse in the morning.

Have you tried taking some time off?

Me: Pfff… no. I’ve been icing and stretching it though…

Hmmm… What necessitated your visit today?

Me: Well, on my last run it hurt during the first mile like it always does. Then, it got really hot during the next mile so I figured it was warming up and would be fine. During the third mile it felt like a searing hot knife blade was being pushed through the bottom of my heel.

Okaaay…

It was at this point in the conversation that I realized he probably thought he was talking to a moron. He poked and prodded at me for a while and then shared his diagnosis. Plantars fasciitis, bone spur, and stress fracture. The last two confirmed by x-rays.

Dark times, indeed. I let go of the upcoming half. I got myself a pair of crutches and a boot for sleeping. A few weeks later, I was back on my feet. But, running wasn’t something I’d be doing again for a long time.

I mourned the loss of my running fitness. I dug out my road bike instead. But, mostly I was reeling from a sudden loss of identity and purpose. I was a runner. No! I am a runner, dammit.

Running Addiction

Running or exercise addiction is real. Here are some signs to watch for:

  1. Feeling guilty or anxious about missing a workout
  2. Not being able to take time off when injured
  3. Anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping when you can’t run
  4. Giving up social, family, or work obligations for running
  5. You keep doing more to feel the same effect
  6. You do more than you intend to do
  7. You run to change your mood
7 Signs of Running Addiction Click To Tweet

I still can’t run. My stress fracture has healed, but my PF won’t leave me alone. Every week I try a little light running to test things out, but my body just isn’t ready. I’m not happy about it, but I’m dealing with it by changing my perspective.

Running is a healthy. Running too much, or too often is not. There are plenty of other things you can do to stay active and enjoy life. I would recommend adding at least two days of cross training to your weekly routine to avoid overuse injury. This is especially important for masters runners who have crossed that 40-year threshold.

For me, kayaking and cycling have been great ways to stay fit. When I can run again, I will. But, this time I’ll be taking a few more days off and enjoying things a bit more.

4 thoughts on “Confessions of a Running Addict

  1. I am not as fast as you, but I broke the under 2-hours for a half-marathon and that fired me up to start running faster and better my time. Instead, I got stress fractures on my foot, severe lower back pain and could barely walk for couple of months. Now I take it easy and am even bold enough to run without my Garmin to check my pace and distance constantly.

    Good post. I want to bring back the fun in run. Boston can wait.

  2. Have had PF and been unable to run since last October, I have just kicked myself up the butt and started volunteering at runs instead, I still miss running loads, but now I am finished feeling sorry for myself (have realised I was extremely depressed) so am doing other things instead, I will always be a runner at heart 🙂

Thoughts?