On the 4th Day of Christmas Running Gave to Me: a Stress Fracture

Screw you, Santa.
Screw you, Santa.

I live in Central Ohio. Usually, December weather kind of sucks for running. But this year? Au contraire! The temperatures have been hovering in the 50-60 range, with little humidity, little wind, and very little precipitation. Perfect running weather!

So want did Santa put in my stocking to go with El Nino? Stuff to keep me enjoying runs outside in this gorgeous weather? New running shoes? Tons of running dates? A gallon of eggnog flavored gu? Short-shorts? A warm-fuzzy feeling. Nope. Nothing. He replaced it with a boot!

What the hell, Santa?

I am an injured runner. It would be dramatic to say this mild weather this week is “killing” me, but ummm yeah, I’m a drama queen and it feels like it is. Although I do love running in the winter, I am missing some beautiful December runs. I fantasize about running in the crisp almost-winter air, sidewalks glowing with extravagant Christmas lights. But I can’t even walk without pain, which doesn’t make the lights very romantic anymore.

The last time I was injured was in 2012 about a month away from the Columbus Half Marathon. I was an Ohio State student, and I developed tendinitis in my right knee. I remember coming to a painful halt during an 8-mile run, far enough away from campus that I had to call a friend to come pick me up and take my sorry-ass home. A sports medicine doctor diagnosed it and prescribed physical therapy and a rather intricate brace to use when I did run. The doctor had confidence that cross-training, rest, ice, and ibuprofen would soothe it enough for race day. Not only did I finish the half, but that was also the last time I beat my half marathon PR!

After an injury takes you out, it’s hard not to ramp back up the training without being at least a little nervous. After the race, I continued my PT regimen and rest. Later in the spring, I ran with no pain at all. I ran my first full marathon last year, with just a smidgen of IT band pain here and there, which sometimes gave me a little scare, but generally, I got pretty used to feeling like my injury days were in the past. Ok, I’ve been spoiled.

Like almost every other runner I’ve ever met, running helps me enact a little control over my otherwise chaotic life. While there is no shame in admitting that, it is something that needs to be acknowledged. Running helps me keep my eating disorder at bay. When I became a runner, I was in a period of under-eating and overexercising, so running fueled this unhealthy part of me. It wasn’t just a calorie burning tool, there was punishment aspect to it as well. Now running plays a completely different role in my life. It’s funny how something that can be used to further an eating disorder, can also be something that can heal one. That’s running for me.

Like Barley explained a couple of days ago, it’s that 30+ minutes a day that I get to be free of any troubles. It keeps me grounded, and it’s become a spiritual thing. When I first started my running journey, I had no idea what I was doing spiritually. In fact, I had no idea that running would be spiritual for me at all. Like a lot of us, when I started, I just signed up for a half marathon not really knowing what I was getting into with this running thing. But as my journey has deepened, I have learned so much about what this sport does for me; how this relationship with distance has healed me and protected me from the ugliest part of myself.

Guess where I'd like to stick this boot.
Guess where I’d like to stick this boot.

On the 4th day of Christmas, running gave to me a calcaneus stress fracture. It will require a boot and crutches for one month and a hiatus from running for 3 months. I did NOT ask Santa for this! Even though pent-up frustration has me feeling like I could beat down my Christmas tree with a baseball bat (or a tinsel-covered crutch); even though I am so irritated I could take out anyone who asks me what happened one more time with a swift kick of my boot; even though one night last week I threw a bottle of Advil across my apartment, thanks to running, I know exactly how tough I am. Plus I consider myself lucky.

I’m still pissed off. But I’m counting my lucky stars that I wasn’t training for any races. A stress fracture is temporary; it’s an easy fix. I will heal and bounce back unlike many others who are diagnosed with terrible, uncurable diseases every minute. I am so very lucky.

Now, I guess, I will find something to fill the void. Perhaps, eating cookies while listening to Adele? A coworker did bring up the fact that perhaps if I go to the bar in my boot and crutches I will win the pity of any single man looking to buy someone a drink.

So I have an injury. And I’m going to deal with it like a real runner would. I’m gonna suck it up and get through it!

But, Santa, next year I’ll be happy with some body glide and some socks. Thanks.


For all the 12 Days of Running posts, go here!

I'm a student of law and life. A Jill of all trades, master of none. But I'm hoping to master something, sometime. ;) Preferably a sub-23 5k and a sub-4 marathon!

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  1. I can’t think of a better pity party than cookies and Adele. I’ll have to remember that one. I hope you find an outlet while you’re healing.