So, About That Leg Pain

Being honest with yourself is one of the most challenging parts of running; perhaps more so than an 11-mile training run sans water fountains and shade.

But that’s where I found myself yesterday as I posted a blog on hope, when all I could think about was I really hope my lower leg stops throbbing so I can put on my glittery headband and go running in Central Park.

Not today.

I have no idea what to label my “condition” or how to identify exactly what part of my leg is being affected. The only way I can describe the sensation is that — and bear with me on this one — it feels like there’s a galaxy of shooting stars streaming back and forth up and down the side of my lower leg. (Note: It’s not tingling, and it’s not the shin.) (Also note: I am not currently on hallucinogens.)

The first time this happened, about a week ago, I kind of laughed it off as a freak occurrence. Oh, that was a weird shooting star-like thing that I just felt in my leg, I thought to myself. And then, I kept on trucking along.

The second time it happened, it came up twice, the pain returning double time over the course of my run. Again, because it was an indescribable sensation that I couldn’t even begin to define, I brushed it off and continued on my merry way. After all, it can be easy to forget these things when staring off into beautiful morning sunrises.

This week, the pain returned in full force. On Monday, it stuck with me — despite how awesome, strong and light I was feeling — all the way from the bottom of Central Park, down 5th Avenue, and back to my apartment. At one point, it struck as I was mid-air, so that when I landed, I lost control over my balance and wound up stumbling over my unstable, wobbly knee.

Tuesday was more of the same, except this time, I was seeing shooting stars at just the start of my run. While Tuesday morning’s run turned out to be okay — good, even — the entire ordeal served as a serious wake-up call. For the first time, the pain decided to stick with me beyond my morning run, into the day, night, and with me as I woke up on Wednesday morning.

Noah made me promise on Tuesday night that I wouldn’t run on Wednesday. Of course, I told him there was a better chance of me doing laundry than skipping my morning run. As fate would have it though, Noah got his way, because upon opening my eyes on Wednesday morning, I was greeted with the sun, my comfy bed, and shooting pains racing up and down my leg — which is weird, because my leg looks totally fine. I’m pretty sure it’s faking it just to get out of going to school.

No, I wouldn’t run on Wednesday.

I had really, really hoped to conquer 30 or more miles this week, something which I’m not so sure — no, I know — is a bad idea. I’m bummed. I’m confused. I’m frustrated. Because not only can I not pinpoint exactly where the pain is coming from (except, of course, by describing it as a galaxy — medically speaking), but I don’t know how to address the unease. Is strength training okay? Is yoga okay? Is walking to work okay? Will ice help? Will Advil help?

In doing a little research, Noah and I determined that the pain could interestingly enough have no relation to running, rather, sitting cross-legged at my desk for the last 3 years. Then again, I can’t imagine that running has absolutely nothing to do with a mysterious pain in my leg and, quite the contrary, might be due to sitting. The irony of that alone would be too much to bear.

For now, I feel like I’m in a glass case of emotion. Anyone who reads this blog knows, and anyone who spends time around me can attest, that a Stacy who hasn’t run is not a Stacy you want to be around.

Short, irritable and generally cranky, I spent the rest of my Wednesday contemplating what went wrong and how I made the rookie mistake of running through that odd pain radiating from my leg just because it didn’t feel that bad. After 6 years of running on a very consistent basis, you’d think that I’d be at least intelligent enough to know when to scale back.

But so is life. You live, and you learn. You also rest, if you want to run half marathons without completely obliterating your body — which I do, on September 16th during the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll Half.

As for now, I’ve already incorporated a heavy dose of I-must-get-better-now into my routine, hitting up an overcrowded class at Yoga Vida last night with the hilarious Ashley of Running Bun and feeding my body delicious spoonfuls of brilliant Chobani yogurt concoctions (much more to come on their new Soho Flagship store in tomorrow’s write-up).

Stay classy, San Diago.

  • I’m not looking for would-be diagnoses, but if you’ve ever experienced this leg pain before, please enlighten me!
  • What’s the strangest pain or injury you’ve ever dealt with?
  • Will a 3-day break be enough?

21 thoughts on “So, About That Leg Pain

  1. It sounds to me like an IT band issue since it is running down your leg and specifically in your knee. I had this hit me one time in the middle of a 10k trail run and had to be taken off the course. I stopped running for a week and did specific stretches and it went away. Not sure if this is your issue but hopefully it won’t keep you off the roads for long!

    • You know what – I’m going to go edit the blog. You’re right; I made it sound that way. It’s my lower leg! Not IT band issues. (Though mine are tight.)

  2. Yikes. No advice ‘cept it sounds like a serious case for a few days of rest. I know, I know, last thing you want to hear. I can feel your pain. Crossing all my limbs and hoping you’ll be better pronto!

    • Don’t they? I can already feel a difference today. The hardest part is refusing to run even when the pain dissipates. Must stay strong!

  3. Tingling can be nerve….but I’m no doctor or expert. I do know that when I had IT band issues I changed how I was sitting and no longer cross my legs or anything like that – both feet planted on the ground. So if that could be the problem, try that and see if it helps. In the meantime, firm believer in stretching and rolling out.

    • Thanks for the input, Heather! Sitting at work without my legs crossed is tough, but I’m trying it out. Stretching and foam rolling are always a must, healthy or not!

  4. I’m gonna try to sound smart here: posterior tibialis tendinitis. I’ve been having pain in the same area (left leg, though) and found my calf was wicked tight. Not sure I’ve got a galaxy issue like you, but getting a massage and getting up close and personal with my rumble roller (had to take my foam rolling to another level) seems to have helped. A little. I think.
    I say a massage for any reason can’t be a bad idea, right? 😉

    Hope you feel better soon!

  5. I am no doctor and this is not a diagnosis. Just my thoughts/experience.

    Out of curiosity, do the shooting stars kind of feel like running water, only really warm? If so, I might say it’s nerve stuff.

    I had shingles a six or seven years ago and have some repercussion stuff from that that feels like running water that’s really warm going up and down the area I had it (my thigh). I sometimes am woken up by it because it gets worse and feels like someone has put gasoline in my legs and set fire to it. I tend to have flare ups when I’m more stressed out. (That’s what brought the shingles on… when I was freaking 26 years old!) Not saying it’s shingles or anything like that, but when I found out that was what was causing the weird leg stuff, it was helpful. It could potentially be a type of stress response?

    Taking time off from running is helpful, especially if it feels exacerbated by the activity. A doctor might be a route to go, if you can. It’s not always fun, but it it keeps radiating/getting to be a bigger area, it might be a good idea.

    Good luck and stay as sane as you can, sans run.

    • Things not to say to a hypochondriac…

      Kidding – I’m not one. But I do need to consider all avenues. I do think it’s nerve related, and not running today as definitely helped. The hardest part is figuring out other ways to get my fix of sweat for the day!

  6. Pingback: Nothing But Good: Or the Time I Ate My Face Off at Chobani Soho « Will Run For Glitter

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