Run Chicken Run: My First Injuries

running shoes

Run Chicken Run: My First Injuries
| published Sept. 23, 2014 |

By Sarah Herrin
Thursday Review contributor/running blogger

“’No pain, no gain’ does not mean that pain systematically equals gain. It’s easy to go hard. It’s hard to go smart.” – Erwan Le Corre

Disclaimer: It’s important to note that I have no medical expertise—despite those anatomy classes I took in art college—and therefore I do not intend to give any advice here, just my account of what worked for me.

foot with tattoo of chicken on a beach Before I started running, I never thought there would be a time when it was harder not to run than to walk. When I sustained a minor injury early on, I discovered this to be true. It was January, only the first few weeks of my training and I’m still not sure how it happened. It came on suddenly and sometime after the run, it became apparent that something was wrong with the tendons in the back of my knee. I did some research through online running magazines and listened to the advice of some fellow runners. It seems my prognosis was to wait it out. Because I couldn’t pinpoint any exact moment when the injury happened and the pain wasn’t piercing, I took painkillers and let it heal on its own. Luckily, my first injury was right on schedule for my 10 day vacation in Hawaii.

Although I was still icing it and limping across Kalakaua Avenue, the 10 day’s rest was really all that could be done. The hardest part was knowing that I had completely messed up my momentum and in some way, I felt like a failure already. I was just running, I thought. How could I have injured myself? I hadn’t fallen or tripped. I’d made sure to get myself fitted for the proper running shoes. I had done everything by the book, so to speak.

The only thing we could guess is that my body just wasn’t used to running and needed time to grow stronger. Pounding the pavement is not good for bones or ligaments and running too fast is a common newbie mistake that all too often leads to injury. Another problem I faced was that, for the Couch to 5k program I was following, it was important to consistently run every other day. I was worried that I’d already lost all the progress I’d made. It was an internal battle not to blame myself and the first of many challenges that I needed to overcome to continue my journey. Luckily, the running community is such that I received a lot of support and encouraging words from those who had been in my shoes before. In the end, I was really just being too hard on myself and my body and a glorious week in paradise was just the remedy I needed.
horseback ride
Back on the mainland, I waited until my knee felt completely healed and then I began again—only to sustain a second injury: plantar fasciitis.

First of all, I am not a morning person, so it was with great determination that I was able to get up early, have breakfast, and lug all of my supplies to the gym before work. I readied my app to track my progress, got on the treadmill, and barely made it one measly mile before my heel was screaming in pain. Are you kidding me?! I changed clothes and limped to work early.

After some research, I discovered that plantar fasciitis is a thing and it happens to be a pretty common injury among runners (it can also affect people who do a lot of standing or walking on the job, especially those who work on hard surfaces like concrete). Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot, and—according to WebMD—it is most often caused by straining the ligament that supports the arch. Repeating the strain can even cause small tears in the ligament, which can trigger more pain and more swelling.
New shoes
There was no question that I could not run on it, so, once again, I was out of a running plan and was forced to limp around like a loser for another week. The body is pretty remarkable when it comes to healing itself and I found that putting my weight on the ball of my foot instead was extremely helpful. I also got a new pair of shoes out of it!

As a runner, it’s hard not to feel like it’s your fault when you sustain an injury because it feels like you did it to yourself, but it’s just your body communicating with you and reminding you to be mindful of how you treat it. The body is a machine and it needs maintenance and time to grow strong. Most newbies don’t know this when they start out and one of the (other) most common mistakes made is forgetting that we need strength training along with our running.

I’ll talk more about this (and how much I hate it) soon!

You can read Sarah Herrin’s blog, by following the link.

Related Thursday Review articles:

How to Become a Runner; Sarah Herrin; Thursday Review; September 14, 2014.

An Overmedicated World”; Kelly Leigh Harris; Thursday Review; June 22, 2014.