When an Injury Sidelines a Runner

By | February 24, 2019

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The only surprising thing about finding out that I had a stress fracture was that it hadn’t happened before. For nearly 13 years of running, I had avoided the dreaded walking boot. That streak ended last week.

Spring races: canceled. Spirits: deflated. Dog who likes to go on walks five times a day: annoyed.

You may be reading this and thinking — ugh, why run, Jen? This sounds so painful. And let me tell you: Cracking your tibia is quite painful. It’s annoying too. I don’t enjoy walking like a penguin, or how difficult it is to drive a stick shift car right now (when I drive at all). And as nice as it sounds to work from bed, I’d prefer to be writing from my usual spot at the dining room table, where my dog can’t try to jump on my laptop while I tell you how miserable I am.

But if I step back and look back over my time running, three injuries in 13 years doesn’t seem like all that terrible of a trade. In the grand scheme of potential catastrophes, four weeks in a walking boot isn’t so bad. It’s not as if one of my organs doesn’t want to work anymore or even that my tibia cracked all the way through. I can still walk the dog, although it’s slower than usual. Considering everything that could go wrong, being annoyed because I hurt my leg is one of the least bad things.

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But already a longing to run free has set in. I’m trying to look at it this way: If I hadn’t spent more than a decade doing this one physical thing that brings me so much joy — and has kept me healthy, happy and strong — I wouldn’t know what I was missing, and what I’ll be getting back to, sometime later this year.

I know a lot of you have been through this, and have probably been stuck in the clunky black walking boot, too. Have you figured out a way to make it less ugly? Did you bedazzle it with all the free time you suddenly had because you couldn’t run? Show me your boots! I’m on Twitter @byjenamiller.

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Run Well!

— Jen

Jen A. Miller is the author of “Running: A Love Story.