My Running Addiction and the Injury That Killed It

I was a runner.

That’s how I defined myself. Running was my outlet, my stress-reliever. I ran for hours so I could prove to myself that I was mentally strong and disciplined.

But there was a downside. I was constantly facing overuse injuries like shin splints, runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, you name it. I would figure out a band-aid fix and then just run through the pain. I was too addicted to running to take a day off.

July 2013 was my reality check. All of the damage I did from over-training caused a stress fracture in my femoral neck, which is a teeny tiny piece of bone that connects the main part of the femur to the ball-shaped end that goes into the hip joint. The doctor told me to stay completely off my leg for a few months or I would risk a full break in the bone and need hip surgery.

um…WHAT?! Hip surgery at 25?

On top of that, my MRIs showed that I had impingements and torn labrums (cartilage that surrounds the hip joint) in both hips.

After getting opinions from a few different sports doctors, I learned that my injury was the straw that broke the camel’s back, not just an isolated occurrence. I had a lot of issues I had been ignoring and I was not taking care of my body.  According to the docs, I had two options if I wanted to avoid further injuries to my hip:

1) Get arthroscopic surgery in both hips

2) Minimize exercises that aggravate my hips, ie. no more running

I did a lot of research on the surgery option and eventually realized that is was not worth it to try. This type of surgery is still relatively new and hadn’t show much success for people like me.

So I had to go with option 2. No more running…at least not like before.

After a few years and a lot less running, I can now look back on this experience and pull some good from it.

So, what did I learn?

I’m getting older and so is my body. This doesn’t mean I’m falling apart, but it does mean I need to take good care of myself if I want to stay healthy and active later in life.

Listen to the warning signs. I felt pain and I ignored it. Remember that your body is smart and if it’s telling you to stop, then stop. There’s probably a good reason.

Injuries are a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, my injury and hip condition have forever changed my ability to run long distances. Being a runner with a love for marathons, that was very hard at first. But I found a new appreciation for my body and have learned to take better care of it. I put my extra energy into trying new workouts and finding new outlets.

Mindset is everything. If you get injured, remember that it’s not the end of the world. There are always options. Get your mind right, move on, and you’ll be okay.

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The ab/core exercise I’m loving right now

A strong core is crucial to the success of most types of exercise, but you can’t get one by just doing crunches. Core muscles go much deeper than the surface six-pack abs…so deep that they even help to protect the spine and internal organs.

Strengthening your entire core will help to prevent injuries, improve posture, and give you more balance and stability.

There are a million and one different ways to work the core, but my favorite at the moment is stability ball or plank roll-outs. These movements work the rectus and transverse abdominiss, lats, triceps, delts, chest…the list goes on. Here’s how you do them:

Stability Ball Roll-Outs 

Kneel in front of a stability ball and rest your forearms on top of it. Keeping your arms straight and your back flat, roll forward over the ball as far as you can go. Roll back with the same form, slow and controlled.

Once you master this, you can try to do it on your toes in an a plank roll-out…

Plank Roll-Out 

Lift yourself up by your forearms so you’re balancing on your toes in an elbow plank position on top of the ball. Push your arms forward to move the ball a few inches away from you and then slowly pull them back, maintaining a stable plank throughout the movement. This will be a much smaller back and forth movement than the movement on your knees, but you will definitely feel the burn!


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Can it be exercise if I’m not sweating?

Can we call something “exercise” if we don’t show physical signs of stress while we do it (sweating, panting, etc.)?

YES. Exercise is any sort of physical effort that improves health and fitness, with or without sweat.

A perfect example of this type of exercise is walking. Walking one of my all-time favorite ways to get in some low-impact exercise that also helps me de-stress. This may be a bit of a surprise to hear from a high intensity, sweat-loving fitness freak like me, but let me explain.

I’m not sure when it started, but at some point walking became the go-to activity when I need to catch up with my girlfriends. There is something therapeutic about walking and talking with an old friend. I even read an article recently that said therapists are starting to conduct sessions over walks because the rhythmic exercise of walking can be conducive to the process of self-discovery.

Walking is obviously great for health reasons as well. It’s a low-impact, low-intensity form of cardio. It won’t build much muscle, but it’s a great way to add extra movement to your day and burn some calories in the process. If you have a desk job like me, you might be unpleasantly surprised by the amount of time you spend in your chair. Getting yourself up for a midday walk is a great way to break up that inactivity. And if you can’t find someone to walk with you can listen to a podcast, an audio-book, or some of your favorite music.

Even if you can only squeeze in a walk for 20 minutes, when you get back you will feel refreshed and ready to be productive!



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