Diary of an Injured Runner: Denial

Photo by Eric Schmuttenmaer

Hindsight is 20-20 as they say. Now I can look back at the previous months and even years and see how I built up a tolerance to pain and how the pain slowly built up so that it went virtually unperceived for a long time. By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around I was in pain always. Every run I was dealing with a tight upper right leg that went from minorly annoying to needing to stop to stretch something out before it snapped. Every night when I went to sleep I needed to make sure I had all 4 pillows so I could prop my arms and legs just so, so as not to wake up in agony with some or another muscle spazzing out. This was my normal.

I remember often thinking how lucky I was to be strong and seemingly resistant to injury. It never occurred to me that Iย was injured. My motto was if it’s just a muscle and I can ignore it and run then I am not injured. If I was running a workout and my piriformis went crazy and hurt I would tell myself it was fine because I’d stretch it out after. It never ever occurred to me that my tight butt muscles and hamstrings and calves and lower back were signs of something bigger going on other than working my tail off and training hard. I definitely, even though I rationally knew better, adopted the no-pain-no-gain mindset.

I think the biggest reason I let the pain go on this long is that I was afraid to face it. I talked about this on my personal blog a few years back, but as a person who experienced a major trauma as a child my tendency is to deny pain. I run away and hide my head in the sand. I am afraid of all that comes with pain. It is easy to avoid dealing with it than all the crap that comes along with it. I was afraid I’d lose something I loved. If I admitted I was injured I might have to stop running.

I don’t even have a definitive diagnosis so I don’t know if this is something I could have quickly nipped in the bud months ago or if no matter when I dealt with it it was going to mean many weeks on the d.l. But I do know that there is no denying my body is damaged and needs to be repaired. It’s a very scary prospect, but one I have to accept.

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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