10 Stages of Runner’s Denial

Runner’s are an insane bunch. We trade pain, blisters, chaffing, shin splints, ugly feet, and a large chunk of our free-time for what? Pounding our feet into cement for hours until we can’t breathe anymore?

I don’t know, man, but I love that shit.

The other thing that runners consistently do is refuse to admit anything that might keep them from being able to run. A bone could be sticking out of a runner’s leg and they would say, It’s fine, I only have a couple more miles. For me, while you’re reading this, I’m taking part in a 200-mile team relay race, and here’s the secret, my foot is SUPER jacked up. But nothing is going to stop me from participating in the event because I’m an idiot.

Runners have completed ultra-marathons on broken toes, torn muscles, and fractures. Yet, even the most masochistic of runners can’t ignore injuries forever, it just takes us a while to get to that point. It’s a process.

1. The Pang

A little jolt of discomfort that shoots up your leg or aches in the bottom of your foot that makes you think I must have just landed on my foot funny.

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2. The Lingering

You wait for it to subside like it normally does, but you finish your run and it still lingers around. You still feel pretty optimistic. I probably just rolled my ankle or tied my shoes too tight. 

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3. The RICE

Runner’s worship RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) since we are aching most of the time. We believe it can cure pretty much anything. One night with an ice pack and a few episodes on Netflix should fix it.

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4. The Second Run

Maybe walking, sitting, and breathing feel painful, but how will you know if it’s really injured if you don’t try running on it again? So you lace up and hobble out of the house. Spoiler: It definitely doesn’t make it better.

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5. The Limp

Now you’re sporting a full limp. Walking around work looking like a pirate on the hunt for his eye patch. You can’t put full weight on one side of you, but you still are pretty sure it’s going to clear up any day now.

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6. The Internet Research

Once you start having to pop Ibuprofen, you start to consider that something might, possibly, be hurt. So, you take to the internet to find an answer to your ailment. Unlike most of the world who fall into WebMD and end up thinking they have cancer, you are on the hunt for the least damaging answer. Oh, it’s probably because I overpronate and don’t have any insoles. That explains why I can’t walk or move my foot in a circle.

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7. The Argument

The people in your life who care about you and don’t enjoy repeatedly causing themselves pain start to suggest that you might want to see a doctor. Your response is always some form of, Oh my god, I’m fine. It’s really not that bad. As you lean on them for support to stand.

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8. The Breaking Point

Eventually, you give in. Not because you hurt too much or because you know the right, and healthy, thing to do is to go to the doctor. No, it’s because you get too sick of not being able to run. You start to go stir-crazy and light a candle for your running shoes that you are confident are collecting dust even though it’s only been a couple of weeks.

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9. The Doctor

So you go to the doctor, because, whatever, I guess you really were hurt.

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10. The Abbreviated Recovery

The doctor gives you a boot (or whatever it is that you need), a plan for recovery, and a timeline for when you can run again. You follow it closely for a while because injuries suck, but then you have a day when it doesn’t hurt so much anymore. Sure, maybe the doctor said you have another three weeks before you’re supposed to run on it, but it feels so much better! Surely a quick little three miles can’t hurt, right?

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