Today’s show we are going to talk about injuries. This is a very popular topic with runners. It comes up over and over again in running groups. As I’ve said before, I’m not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. This podcast isn’t going to be about how to heal your injuries but rather more how it makes runners feel to be injured, stories from injured runners and a chance to commiserate with others. If you think you are truly injured and not just having muscle soreness or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) I highly encourage you to reach out to your doctor. Many are doing telehealth visits now so much less of an inconvenience for you. You don’t have to drive anywhere and you can do it from your couch.

I will start with my story. Overall, I’ve been pretty luck (knock on wood) with my injuries. I can only think of two that took me out for extended periods of time without running. Otherwise it’s the occasional cold or ankle twist and a few days rest usually means I can get back out. 

But what about the other two times you say?

Well, let me tell you about those. First, we will take a trip back to December 2016. I was training for my first marathon. I traveled to Wisconsin for Christmas and did my longest run on Christmas Eve. It was great. I was feeling good. I completed the run and was looking forward to the Arizona Rock n Roll marathon in mid-January.

I got home, and about a week later my sinuses started to be a pain in the ass. I did all the usual stuff but nothing was helping and I ended up with a full-blown sinus infection. That was fun since we had a trip to LA to see Universal and go to a hockey game. I couldn’t breathe so I couldn’t run. I wasn’t too worried about the marathon yet, as I still had a few weeks to go and had built a good base.

But when my sinuses cleared enough to let me run, I started out slowly but kept getting vertigo like symptoms after about a mile and a half to two miles. It was like clockwork. And I would of course stop running, but then I felt like a drunk trying to walk home. So I thought I was fighting some weird leftover of the sinus infection. I stopped running, and I skipped the marathon.

All my hard work. Gone.

Once I was sure my sinuses were all clear, I tried to run again. Same thing. What. The. Fuck? I was at a loss. I had no idea what could be wrong with me. I could lift weights & do other workouts but not run. 

So I stopped running.

At first, it was ok. I lifted weights, did yoga, and other in-home activities, but I was itching to return to running. It really is the best thing for my mental health. I happened to set appointments with my allergist and primary care doctor, so I figured I’d discuss at both and see what comes of it. At my asthma/allergy appointment, I was diagnosed with vocal chord dysfunction. Basically, my vocal chords weren’t opening correctly when I was breathing. Causes can include a respiratory infection. I assume it was from the sinus infection I had. 

I got some medicine and breathing exercises and was able to start running again.

Of course, I had to start a little slower than usual and since I had to do these exercises while running I was making some strange breathing sounds as I plodded along. But once I finished the medicine and breathing exercise, everything was back to normal! And my running picked up again.

And everything was fine, and I was building my miles back up and in 2019 I got a coach. I was determined to finally, actually, really, for sure run a marathon. I figured I was struggling on my own and a coach would be helpful.

And she was. 

She was great. I was going great. I was running 16 to 18 mile training runs in May and June. I felt I’d be toeing the line in January, no problem. Oh boy, was I wrong. I had no idea what was coming. In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would happen. It wasn’t a blip on my radar.

We went to Yosemite and on our first day hiked to the top of upper Yosemite Falls. It was amazing. I was feeling fantastic! We had lunch up there and then headed back down. We were making good time. 

And then, slip, snap and I was down. 

Fuck. I broke my leg.

It was awful. I won’t go into the entire story about it, but basically I was in a cast for five weeks. I got the cast off and had to re-learn to walk. It was another 2-3 weeks before I could even attempt to run. Those 7-8 weeks were so hard. I could barely walk because crutches are hard, y’all. 

I still needed crutches when the cast first came off, then I went to one, and then it was a slow walk. I still couldn’t walk much because my range of motion was so limited, but I really wanted to get back to running. I was still determined to run a marathon and thought, August to January? That’s plenty of time!

Oh boy, was I delusional. 

I didn’t have a physical therapist. The doctor told me all I needed was to start walking and then after a few weeks I could start running, slowly, again. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to just head out the door and run 30 minutes, so I looked online for a plan. I found one from a prominent clinic physical therapy department. It provided a lot of info about coming back from injury. It seemed like a great plan, so I used it. 

It was frustratingly hard because my ankle just didn’t bend enough at first. The plan was great, though. It started with 20 minutes total and you walked for 4:30 seconds and then ran for 30 seconds. Each week you ran 30 more seconds until you were running the whole time. So very much like a couch 2 5k program. I did repeat some of the weeks, but by September was back to running the whole time. 

I was still working with my coach at this point, and I really wanted to run the marathon in January. We tried to make a plan that would get me there, but by December it was clear I wasn’t going to be able to make it. I was struggling with long runs. Anything over 10 miles was still hard, and I was so slow. I gave up on the marathon in January.

Now, I’ve thought many times about the marathon. But I’m not really sure it’s a dream I want to chase anymore. I won’t go on about it here because I’ve talked about it in other podcasts. 

So, those are my major injury stories. There’s also been minor things, rolled ankle. Soreness. But those are things that I rest for a few days and am able to get back at it. Those aren’t the injuries that play with your mind. It’s the longer ones. The ones that feel like there’s no end in sight. No solution. No getting back out there.

I’ve got a few other stories from fellow runners. I’m sharing them all anonymously so like Zombies Run they will all be called Runner and a number. I have re-written their stories for clarity and I hope I do them justice.

Runner #1

Runner 1 thought they had tight hip flexors, but after a deep tissue massage had more pain and went to a sports medicine doctor. After having an x-ray and MRI, Runner 1 found out they had stress fracture in their femoral neck, a fairly common thing in athletes. (To me that sounds bad, but I’m not a doctor). Runner 1 continues to run and also rides a bike quite a bit because of the importance of weight bearing exercise for them. They are focusing on shorter runs, form, and strength training. Runner 1 does not want to take the suggested drug treatment. The bike has been a great way to keep active, but Runner 1 much prefers to keep running.

Runner #2

Runner 2 starts off saying they don’t have any extraordinary injuries. I assume that would be like me breaking my leg. They have had shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, or a combo of them. Runner 2 chooses to keep running through the pain because even when they rest for a few weeks it still hurts when coming back but heal as they continue to run shorter and slower runs.

Runner 2 also struggles with depression and grumpiness aspect when taking time off. They feel their identity is tied to running and have no other real hobbies. I think many of us can identify with this. How many of us wake up grumpy AF, go for a run, and suddenly feel better? I know I do. I get up everyday crabby and not wanting to leave the house, but after the first mile I feel SO much better!

Runner #3

Runner 3 has struggled with knee injury and metatarsal stress fracture. While not running, they tried to do some videos to stay in shape as well as riding a recumbant bike and strength training. Runner 3 tried to watch diet and continue exercising when not running, but still gained weight. 

I know the weight gain issue is another big one for runners. We know when we’re running we can eat a little more, but it’s hard to rein it in when we can’t. Sometimes it feels like our bodies still think we need all the fuel when we can’t exercise and it gets hard to cut food back. We feel hungry AND you may want to feed your feelings (yup; I like to eat my feelings).

Runner #4

Lastly, Runner 4 shared their story. Runner 4 is currently coming back from injury. They have only started running again the past week or so. Most of us expect our injuries to come from running or to be some big moment. Runner 4 was running a lot of miles and their calf started to act up. Then, when having her gait analysis done, the calf tear happened. Seriously, who expects to tear their calf doing a short jog for a gait analysis? Or someone I know went to wipe up water and broke their ankle. I guess with injuries we all want a cool story to tell, but it’s usually never that cool.

Runner 4 was out for 10 weeks. They are happy to be back running, but of course every little twinge makes them worry. But Runner 4 plans to stick with her set recovery plan. Their doctor is a distance runner and understands what is needed to come back. Runner 4 is happy to start slow and build up to avoid injury.

So it seems runners have two types of injuries: those ongoing things from running and getting older or a tear or break from some freak accident. I’m sure there’s more, but all I have is this small sample size of five. 

I understand the need to run, but I tend to err on the side of caution. And I will always tell another runner to rest and talk to their doctor if something feels off. I don’t want to create future injuries worse by not taking care of stuff early. And I don’t want anyone else to have ongoing issues. But ultimately, what you do is up to you. Listen to your body. Listen to your doctor. 

Let’s take a quick commercial break. 

And welcome back! Let’s take a look at how we can deal with injuries.

From those I talk to, not well. It seems to be pretty common among injured runners that they don’t know what to do when they can’t run. Many of us use our runs as a way to treat our mental health or to have that precious me time that can be so scarce. The problem is that even if we can do another exercise, it doesn’t seem to help us the same way running does. Sure we may be able to hop on a bike or go for a swim and lift weights, but it’s not the same.

What is it about running that some of us need to do it? Is running an addiction? Or is it the fact that it can help lift our depression or ease our anxiety? Running is not a cure for mental health, but it can definitely help. I don’t think other exercises do the same, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it depends on individuals. For me, I love lifting weights. It makes me feel strong, but it doesn’t seem to directly affect my emotional state.

So if we are off running for a longish period of time, it can feel like hell.

We need to remind ourselves that this is temporary. We aren’t going to be injured forever. You will get back to running. In the grand scheme of life, this is just a blip on the timeline. Focus on getting better, not being injured. Do what you can to get better. Go to the doctor. Follow recommendations. Think positively. I know this last one is hard. But you can do it. I know you can.

Another thing to do is reach out to other runners. I know, why would you do that? You don’t want to hear how great their runs are! But they understand. They know what it’s like to be injured and not able to run. Your partner, friends, family they may not understand how much you need to run. But other runners? They get it. If you have no one to reach out to, I’m here for you. You can always find me on Instagram or send me an email. If you head to the Anchor page, there’s also a way to leave me a voice message. I will listen to you bitch, commiserate, and let you know it will be ok and you can and will get through this.

While injured you are probably thinking you are losing fitness. I know when I broke my leg I thought this. I couldn’t do anything. I could barely walk. It took all my energy to use those damn crutches. 

And if someone was in the handicap bathroom at work? I thought I was going to die of exhaustion trying to go in a regular stall (HEY – Reminder! If you don’t need the handicap bathroom or stall PLEASE do not use it, especially if there are other stalls open. I know, I know. It’s nice to have all that space, but some people REALLY need the larger stall and the handrails. Ok, stepping off my soap box). 

I contemplated doing some upper body workouts, but there wasn’t a ton I could do while seated. A lot of it would still require some weight on my leg and it was just easier NOT to do anything. I figured when I started running again it would be difficult and I’d take forever to get going. Not true, my lungs/hearts etc retained a lot of my fitness. It was mostly working to get a range of motion back in my ankle and big toe. My muscles were like oh yah, we remember this! Running feels good! I had some DOMS at first, but not after the first week or so. 

If you can do other exercises while injured, definitely do them. It will help. But remember, if you’ve been running for a while you have a good base and you don’t lose as much as you think you do while injured. Just come back slowly, follow your doctor’s directions, and enjoy the simple fact that you are moving again!

I think for a lot of us running becomes a part of how we define ourselves. I’m a runner. My social media name reflects that. Most of my posts are about running. It feels like it’s tied to my personality. But it’s not all I am. I’m also a photographer, a reader, a writer, a sports fan, and so much more. While recovering from my broken leg I got to read more. I got to watch more tv shows and movies I hadn’t gotten around to. We watched all of Deadwood before the movie came out. I kept meaning to watch it but there just wasn’t time before. 

So while you’re sidelined pick up something you’ve been meaning to do or haven’t had the time for. Maybe you can start painting again. Or go on a musical journey to find new jams for when you return. Binge listen to that podcast you keep putting off. Hit the TBR pile of books that are collecting dust on your shelf.

Remember, there is more to you than just being a runner. You are a whole person with lots of dreams, goals, and interest. Use this time to explore some of them.

If you can’t run, remember you are not alone. There are others out there who understand.

How do you deal with injuries? What would you tell a fellow injured runner about coping during this time?

Ok, this is getting a lot longer than I had thought. I will wrap this up by asking, what is your best tip to get though an injury? Let me know at, runs_on_espresso on Instagram or email me at

And now, coffee corner. My life is boring right now! I haven’t watched Netflix this week. I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m still slowly working my way through Salem’s Lot. hmmmmm…

I have found myself really drawn into Lovecraft Country on HBO. Have you watched it? I was a little confused at first since I know nothing about H.P. Lovecraft or the book the show is based on. I was immediately hooked with the characters, costumes, and storyline. Each episode adds a little more to the story but also introduces something new, so you are always guessing what will happen next. Episode eight was so good and introduced some creepy characters. As I was watching I was thinking, these characters are going to give me nightmares. The young women were so good in the roles. I hope we see them again. Oh, and if you watched Full House as a kid, do you remember Denise? She is all grown up and one of the main character in Lovecraft Country. She is freaking amazing. So if you have HBO and haven’t watched this yet, go. Go now and watch it. 

Ok, I am going to wrap this up now. Until next time, may your runs be as strong as your coffee. 

Categories: Podcast


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.