No Pain, No Gain: My Top Running Injuries

Mo Farah
In his book, Running Fast and Injury Free, Gordon Pirie writes: “Statistics compiled by the American Medical Association indicate that as many as 70 percent of the more than 30 million “serious” runners in the United States can count on being injured every year. This disturbing injury rate is not limited solely to beginners and elite athletes, but applies to runners at every level, across the board.”

Today, Mo Farah, the gold medal winner of the 10K and 5K events at the 2012 Olympic Games, collapsed at the finish line of the New York Half-Marathon after finishing second. He remained unconscious for nearly three minutes and had to be taken away in a wheelchair.

My road to running has not been pain free either.   However, I have learned from my mistakes, and I would like to share the following top running injuries and the lessons I learned from them:

1)  My Legs Refused to Run
I was out on an evening run around Lake Crabtree in Cary, NC.  I ran about 3 miles, and I had about 1 mile left to get back home.  Suddenly, my legs froze, and I could not run any further.  My body felt fine.  I could breath and move my arms.  However, something was wrong with my legs.   I felt helpless, but I didn’t feel any pain.  It seemed like I didn’t have any energy to keep moving.  It’s like they turned into wax, and I could barely stand on my feet.   It took me about 30 minutes to slowly walk back home.  After searching on-line, I am still not sure what happened.   Some of the most common causes I have found could be versions of leg cramps or Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome.

Lessons Learned:  I’ve taken some basic precautions.  I try to rest before running and increase  my nutrient and vitamin intake.  Luckily, I have never experienced anything like that again.

2) Runner’s Knee
Whenever I run a distance over 7 miles on pavement, I am certain to experience pain and discomfort around my one of my knees.  When I try bending my knee, I hear a soft cracking sound as if I were snapping my fingers.  Occasionally, I experience a  twitching feeling around my upper knee cap.  This feeling comes and goes, and it usually lasts for several days at a time.  Most of the time it’s pain in my left knee, but sometimes I feel it in my right knee as well.  After the half-marathon in San Antonio, I remember heading straight for the first aid station and asking for ice-packs for both my knees. That was the only time I used ice-packs on both knees.

Lessons Learned:   I’ve had this pain in varying degrees.  When I started running, the pain was more intense.  After my weight dropped from 180 pounds two years ago to 140 pounds, the pain decreased.  With less weight, I am not putting so much stress on my knees when I run.  I can also run faster.  There are things I’ve done to mitigate the effects of Runner’s Knee.  The main ingredient is much needed rest.  Usually, after a day or two of not running and a good night’s sleep, the pain goes away.  I try to avoid running fast on pavement whenever possible.  Lately, I’ve been running on a race track several times a week.  I also rely on the treadmill to increase my endurance.   Finally, I’ve alternated my running shoes, and I’ve started tracking my mileage for each pair of shoes I run in.

3) Sore Hamstrings
On several occasions, the pain in my hamstring was so great that I could not even walk after the race.  Unlike runner’s knee, the pain in my hamstring endures when  I’m standing up or sitting down.   This is the most frustrating pain I’ve had, since it lasts longer than any other pain.  Sometimes, I feel the soreness for up to three days after going out for a run.  To say the least, it’s a very unpleasant feeling when I can’t run because I am hurt.

Lessons Learned:   This pain is probably the main reason I have started doing more cross-training to strengthen my hamstrings.  Now, I go to the gym specifically for that reason.  The weeks before my last two races, I spent considerable time on the elliptical.  I also changed my running technique by trying not to overextend my legs and taking shorter steps.  Finally, I can’t stress the importance of stretching my hamstrings before and after running.

4) Slippery Ground
When I run, I don’t like to stop.  Since most of my running occurs outside, I run in all kinds of conditions.  One of the biggest hazards I’ve faced is the danger of slipping and falling down.  I’ve seen many runners fall down, especially when running in the rain.

Lesson Learned:  I learned it’s better to walk around a slippery spot than continue running and risking an injury. It’s just not worth it.

Final Thoughts:  There are many other types of running hazards like Achilles Tendinitis,  Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain), IT Band Syndrome (pain in the left side of the knee), sore calf muscles, ankle sprains, and shin splits.  Not to mention, runners have to worry about dogs, cars, and severe weather.  As I continue running, I will do my best to avoid all hazards.  Still, the risk of getting hurt will not prevent me from running.  After all, no pain, no gain.

Miles From Last Week
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday:  5 miles
Saturday 5 miles
Total: 20 miles
Miles Ran in February: 84.2

Ideas for Future Posts
Let’s do some cross-training
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch!
What do I think about while I’m running?
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners
Time for New Shoes
Move your feet to the beat of your heart: Tunes for Runners
Gear up for Running
Let’s go Grocery Shopping!
Physics of Running

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