Thursday, September 5, 2013


I have never been injured. 

When I admit this to someone, it is not to brag. Rather, I confess it sheepishly, full of guilt, fully aware that I don't deserve to be an injury-free runner, fully aware of all those runners who have been frustrated by injury for years. (My sister, who will always be a far superior runner to myself in my eyes, has been hit with one too many injuries. Why can I run and she can't? It isn’t fair.) 

In high school I had a problem in my foot that flared up a few years later while training for my first marathon. Before my first Boston, my Achilles started acting up. In these cases, the remedy was a few days off and then carefully resuming running. I've never been to the doctor for these minor glitches. 

When asked how I remain injury free, I list the usual reasons: I watch my mileage and have built it up slowly over years. I take careful inventory of what hurts and stretch/ice/rest when anything feels off. I know what works for me and what my body can handle. But honestly, I'm just lucky. I've broken the ten percent rule. I've gone weeks without a day off and felt a sense of pride about it. Busy mornings mean skipped stretching and icing. The injured runners reading this now hate me. Don't worry. Karma will get me soon. Maybe it already has. 

While training for this spring's Boston, my hip acted up a bit. Some days it would feel tight and go away, some days it would be a quick pang of pain, and then disappear. Looking over my log, there is one day it bothered me enough to cut a workout short. Instead of logging 15, I cut it to 9. Still, I ran 9 miles; I wasn’t debilitated. I worried about it a bit, but it wasn't serious enough to slow me too much. 

After Boston, I took off more time than usual. I did a short test run; the hip was still tight, so I took some more days off, and repeated this process a few times. By June, I was aching to run and getting out of shape. I started slowly and built back my mileage. My hip made its presence known a few times, but nothing to sideline me. I religiously did hip exercises and iced it. It seemed to be going away. Three weeks ago, I did a tempo run that wasn't a complete disaster. I was coming back. 

The next day, while visiting Brother in Philly, he took me on a run along the river, following the same course the marathon would. It was a gorgeous day, the kind of beautiful morning that makes you glad to be a runner. My hip was tight in the beginning, but loosened up. I hit a pretty decent pace, and felt happy with it. Afterwards, I did my stretches, grabbed some ice and hopped in the car for a wedding in the Hamptons. 

On the drive the hip stiffened and throbbed. But after we got out of the car, it felt fine. We danced and celebrated, all fine. The next day, Husband and I tried to go for an easy run. It tightened immediately. “Maybe it will loosen up like it usually does,” Husband said. But I couldn't even make it two steps to try and see. I was hurt.

I took a few days off before testing it again with an easy jog. After five minutes of pain-free running, it tightened. I could have pushed it to see if it would stretch out like I have in the past. But remembering not being able to take two strides a few days before made me realize it wasn't worth it. At that moment I switched from someone who defied injury to someone who was injured, and accepted it. Time to see the doctor.

I called the best hip doctor around, as recommended by a teammate. I couldn’t get an appointment for three weeks. Three weeks? That seemed like an eternity. I am supposed to be training, what the heck do I do with myself?

After the aborted test run, I cross-trained to maintain sanity. On Friday (day 7 of no running), I saw my doctor to get a referral to Dr. Hip Specialist. She thinks it may be a labral tear, to be confirmed by the specialist with an MRI. She warned me a tear could require surgery, although it may be possible to rehab it with physical therapy. She also said I can run in the meantime, provided I decrease mileage and avoid hills. I can run? This happy news clouded the rest of the appointment. But as I walked away, the reality of what else she said dawned on me. Possible surgery!?

I was able to run for five pain-free, glorious days before the tightness was back and I was sidelined again. Tomorrow I have my appointment; the three weeks of waiting are over. I’m eager to get a real diagnosis: will I need surgery? Is cross-training aggravating it? When and how can I get back to running? I’ve come to accept my immediate goals may need to change, but I want to get started fixing this as soon as possible, so my long term ones don’t need to.

Dream big,


  1. Runnerteal:

    Thank you the update and the details. Your many fans and supporters are wishing you a good diagnosis and a quick recovery! May the running gods treat you well!

  2. Hi Teal! A friend of mine who is an excellent runner in DC recommended your blog to me and I'm so glad! I just suffered my own hip injury (awaiting diagnosis) and your blog has helped me power through boring cross training workouts. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! Glad you found the blog, but sorry to hear about the hip trouble! Injuries suck, but patience is key. Keep your head up, keep cross training, and you'll be back better than ever :)