The Ghost of Injuries Past, Or A New Problem?

I’m now two solid weeks into my recovery and back to running for 30 min. segments, but now I’m faced with a new problem: phantom pains (I hope).

In the past week, I finished my fourth — and last — day of run/walking and ran for a full 30 mins. without any walking three times (with the distance ranging from 3.5 to 3.7ish miles), rotating running days with cross training days.

But after my 3.5 mi. run Monday morning, I started feeling some pain in my tibia. Naturally, I started to kind of freak out. I started probing the bone around my fracture site, and thankfully that felt fine. There were no sharp stabs of pain when touching the bone like there were when I was injured. But the pain feeling keeps coming back sporadically throughout the day.

My total post-injury mileage is up to 20.4 mi. over two weeks and seven “runs” — which is more than I ran in January when my doc gave me the go-ahead to resume running and I quickly and definitively realized my stress fracture wasn’t in fact healed.  Then, after a 6 mile run on just a week into my “rehab,” walking hurt again, the pain was there with every step.

This time, sometimes I’ll feel a twinge when I’m walking, but then it will go away. Sometimes I’ll feel it when I’m just sitting at my desk, but then it will go away. That is different enough that it  gives me hope that this is a phantom pain—a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder reaction, which I’ve read can be a problem for months after returning to running.

The uncertainty, though, is killing me.

I’m struggling to decide whether I should go ahead with my next run as planned tomorrow, or if I should take it easy for another day, ice it and sleep in my compression socks to help my calves recover from the return to running.

On the one hand, I know I should probably take it easy. But on the other hand, I’m so tired of not running, and I’m so tired of taking it easy. And part of me hopes that I’ll run, feel great, and my anxiety will vanish.

I guess this is a decision I’ll make tomorrow, after another night of rest and icing.

-KK

Anyone else have experience with phantoms pains when returning from injury? If so, how did you figure out it was just phantom, and not real? Any tips on dealing with the sensation?

On the other side of the equation, anyone have experience re-injuring themselves after returning to running too quickly? Any tips on avoiding that outcome?

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