I should’ve known posting an Instagram picture saying “I’m back!” and writing a post about how I was finally at a good place with running would come back to bite me. That’s just how my luck goes (and often why I try to keep quiet on things for fear of jinxing myself).
If you follow me on social media, then you already know that I’ve been out with a (likely) femoral shaft stress reaction for just under three weeks. It all started on March 10th. I ran 11 miles after work on the 9th and felt fine. Went for a run on the 10th and also felt fine during… but as soon as I stopped I felt a weird sensation on the side of my right thigh. I chalked it up to tightness, took Friday off, and ran 11 miles on Saturday without issue. I carried on the following week pretty normally with some unspecified discomfort in my leg; I was never really able to pinpoint it, and it didn’t hurt enough for me to alter my gait or have to stop. I felt discomfort up more towards my hip at the end of the week, so I foam rolled and massaged myself to the point that I was bruised. I ran a 5k that Saturday and was fine. Again, there was something there, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
I went for a run on Sunday and it was pretty uncomfortable, but I wasn’t sure if that was because I raced the day before. So I took Monday off, and did a speed workout on Tuesday. It still felt off, so I immediately started to panic. I decided to stop running (this was March 22nd), Googled non-stop for two days, tried poking and prodding to find the source of the discomfort, but I came up empty handed. Panicked, I called my doctor at the Women’s Sports Medicine Office at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and got an appointment to see her the following Monday (3/28). I had x-rays and talked to her… and nothing showed up on the x-ray (no surprise), so she ordered an MRI. She said it was possible it was a stress fracture, but it could also just be a deep muscle strain. The pain wasn’t in my hip (so we ruled out femoral neck or labrum issues), which actually put me at a slight advantage. I had my MRI that Wednesday, and then went back to the doctor to review my results on Friday.
We looked at the MRI together, as I pretended to have any clue as to what I was seeing on the screen as she scrolled to zoom in and zoom out. I’ve been through the “OMG I HAVE A STRESS FRACTURE” panic so may times before, and each time the results have been in my favor. This time, though, I wasn’t so lucky (but wasn’t completely unlucky, either). She said there was a little something that didn’t look quite right, but it wasn’t a fracture line, either. Both the MRI technician and my doctor had the same diagnosis — it was likely a stress reaction and even if it wasn’t, it should be treated as such. Whomp, whomp.
While I was disappointed to hear the diagnosis, I was also relieved. It meant that the discomfort I was feeling had an actual cause. More importantly, it meant I could put a plan in place to heal and get myself back to running again. Since I caught it early, my doctor ordered no running or high impact activity for three weeks. After that, she said I could try a run, doing a run-walk method to see if I had any discomfort during or after. At the time of my diagnosis, I had already been off my feet for a week and a half… in fact, I hadn’t done any physical activity since March 22nd (and was starting to go crazy). I was so thankful to have the green-light for other activities mostly for my sanity, but also so I could attempt to maintain some of the fitness I had finally started to gain back after my last running hiatus. Since my diagnosis on April 1st, I’ve taken three spin classes, swam once, did hot yoga once, and returned to Refine Method over the weekend. I also did a few at-home workouts focusing on my core and glutes, which always need work. And as of today, I only have two more weeks of no running before I can give it a try… which really isn’t that bad!
I’m really thankful that I was smart and stopped running as soon as things really started to feel off. I’m thankful that I have a lot of other workout options easily available to me. And I’m thankful this was only a stress reaction and not a stress fracture. While it’s troublesome that I wound up with this injury — I had blood work done this past weekend to see if there’s anything I can do with my nutrition to help, since the femur is such a big and strong bone — it isn’t a nail in the coffin for me. I am confident I’ll be able to run my fall marathons.
Onward an upward!
Have you ever had a stress fracture? Reaction?