Diagnosis: Hypochondria

I’ve had three actual injuries in my short running life, but I’ve unofficially diagnosed myself with dozens more.

According to my Google history, I’ve stress-fractured pretty much every part of my body. If it’s got the word “syndrome” attached, I must have had it. If there’s a Runner’s World forum for any given injury, I’ve probably stopped by once or twice.

Running has made me paranoid.

It’s strange, because in the rest of my life, I’m a “suck-it-up-and-deal” type. I come from a family of staunch Scottish non-complainers, and I’ve been known to debate for an hour before taking an Advil. Along with the attitude, I’m both blessed and cursed with a high tolerance for pain. (I did that thing once where you plunge your hand into a sink full of ice water and wait as long as you can to take it out — we were brewing beer, and perhaps consuming beer, and yeah, I don’t have a better explanation than that — and everyone else who tried was out after a few seconds, but I was all, “OK, yeah, that’s sure a little chilly, oh, now my hand’s numb, that’s cool, what’s for dinner?”) I broke my wrist when I was 8, and my parents didn’t take me to the hospital for three days because I kept doing handstands to prove how very not-broken it was. (I’m sorry, mom and dad; I hope the people at the hospital weren’t too suspicious of your parenting. It was totally my fault.)

The pain thing is kind of a cool party trick, but it also makes it hard to tell when an ache is actually a problem. When my IT band issues started over the summer, my doctor told me I could still run if I wanted to, but only until my knee started to hurt. I asked him to define “hurt.” He did not look terribly pleased to be dealing with me. I probably could run through a lot of pain, but that’s not something I want to go turning into a habit. So I get stuck in this cycle where I run, notice something that doesn’t seem completely right, Google it, decide I have a broken bone/muscle tear/leg that’s about to fall off, wallow in despair … and feel completely fine 36 hours later.

As I write this, I’ve got an ice pack under my toe. For a few days, I’ve had this little niggling pain moving around my left foot, sometimes in my arch, sometimes under my big toe, sometimes on the top of my foot. It doesn’t hurt to run or wiggle my toes or stand. This is an incredibly minor issue. And yet, how many horrible, running-season-ending injuries have I decided I have since I first felt this pain? At least five. (Plus gout, but I think that’s only because I watch a lot of sports, and gout is apparently the official sponsor of all sports on TV this year.) Really, though? This is almost certainly not tendinitis. Not metatarsalgia. Not sesamoiditis. It’s more likely that — wait for it — my toe hurts. Because I ran 38 miles last week. Recommended treatment: an ice pack, flats instead of heels, and for the love of god, stay away from Google.

Is this a thing? Are there other folks out there suffering from Acute Runners’ Hypochondria?

Is there a Runner’s World forum for this?

(There probably is. But I’m not going to Google it. Promise.)

2 thoughts on “Diagnosis: Hypochondria

  1. Kelly says:

    OMG This is exactly why I don’t Google running aches and pains anymore. Seriously, I don’t do it AT ALL. My theory: ignorance is bliss. 🙂

  2. hah! i agree as runners we have a high threshold for pain…so it’s tough to draw the line. I try to run through minor aches/pains and rest when there’s pain that alters my gait. but i tend to be paranoid, too!

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