It only hurts when I walk

I think I have injured myself. Strange­ly enough, I seem to run fastest when I’m in pain.

I have top-of-the foot pain and knee pain, in my left foot and left knee. Some­times I’m walk­ing with a pro­nounced limp. This is not how it’s sup­posed to be, but here’s what I believe is the strange part: it does­n’t hurt when I run.

A few years back I ran a race—it was a 5K in Gold­en Gate Park like today’s race—where I ran with foot pain. It was top of the foot pain like this and by the time I was halfway done I was hob­bling and run­ning with a limp. The race seemed to go on for­ev­er and I was relieved to cross the fin­ish line after such a slow, gru­el­ing, painful race. Come to find out that although it felt like I was going extra slow­ly, I actu­al­ly ran the fastest 5K I’d ever run or have since: 25:54

Today’s race was­n’t that bad but I was going pret­ty slow­ly. As I men­tioned, I’m most­ly only expe­ri­enc­ing any pain when I walk, not when I run. There were still some moments where I land­ed wrong and felt dis­com­fort either in my knee or my foot. I kept going as best I could and when I dragged myself across the fin­ish line I looked at the clock and saw that I’d fin­ished in under 30 min­utes. After all this time I’ve been try­ing to break the twelve minute mile, here I was strug­gling just to fin­ish and came in under ten min­utes to the mile. 

So here’s the mys­tery: why do I run faster when I’m fight­ing against an injury? I’d love to believe that the threat of pain caus­es me to keep bet­ter form than I usu­al­ly do, but that’s just wish­ful think­ing. Even if there’s some­thing to that, the answer isn’t to run while injured.

The prac­ti­cal ques­tion becomes: how do I rest? Nor­mal­ly I’d walk more, but walk­ing is what still hurts. It does­n’t hurt when I run. So do I need to take time off entire­ly? If so, how much time? I’m tempt­ed to just run, but that seems like an ill-advised idea. One option is to keep run­ning but only very short dis­tances, which gives me the advan­tage that I can at least get out on the road, but short dis­tances aren’t as much fun.

I sup­pose that what­ev­er I do I’ll see what hap­pens and it will give me more infor­ma­tion. Even if I over­do it and these pains turn into a real injury I’ll have learned some­thing valu­able. There are some lessons I’d rather not learn the hard way, so I’d best not push it too hard. 

One Reply to “It only hurts when I walk”

  1. Warn­ing

    Pain is usu­al­ly con­sid­ered to be nature’s way of warn­ing you that some­thing is wrong with your body. I’d give it a rest and a chance to heal.


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