Stress Fracture?? Wha??!!

So Tuesday I went to see a sports doc to get answers about the crazy cramps I’ve been having. I don’t cramp all the time but it def has been happening more often. I cramped at mile 8 at Chicago Marathon (despite wearing compression sleeves, taking salt tabs, hydrating at every station, and fueling as practiced) and then ran a half marathon 3 weeks later with zero cramping (took zero salt tabs and one Gu). Two weeks later, I ran the USA Half Marathon where I experienced insane crampage that left me at the medic tent post race. I had carried Tailwind the entire race and drank water along the course as well–even took a Gu at mile 6 only to cramp up at mile 12 barely being able to cross the finish line.

It’s just so weird.

Anyway, the doc ordered x-rays which at first I thought was odd considering I was there for muscle related issue, but I was game. Soon after, the doctor came back into the room, sat down, and said, “It looks like you have two stress fractures. The one on the left looking worse than the one on the right.”

“Wait, what??”

I’m not kidding. That’s exactly what I said. I was there because of cramps. I had zero pain from my shins (where apparently there was a huge bump).

He walked me to the x-rays and there it was, what seemed to me a huge mountain on my shin bone. He also pointed to a thin little line across the bone that did not look good. The right shin was not as bad and we focused our attention on the thing growing on my left leg.

He rubbed his had along the bone and asked me what I felt.


He was quizzical and said perhaps it was an old injury. I had been there two years before (almost to the date) for shin pain in that exact same leg. At the time though, another doctor had diagnosed severe shin splints. Interestingly, I was in pretty serious pain then and for sure thought I had a stress fracture.

But apparently now I did?

He said an MRI would tell us if the fracture was active or if it was from an old injury. But until then, no running.

I argued. I mean, I wasn’t in pain! I had a race on Sunday! And a half in two weeks!

Nope. No running at least until I got the MRI.

So, here it’s been 6 days since the last time I ran. Six long days, the longest I’ve gone since I don’t even remember when.

Everyone is doing a running streak and here I am starting a NO running streak.

tumblr_inline_numw0nHqOp1s55dye_500Anyway, I got the MRI done yesterday and now I sit and wait to hear back. I’ve got the Hot Chocolate 15k on Sunday that you better believe I’m running. Maybe slowly, but I’m doing it. Seriously, nothing hurts and I feel completely fine. Last Saturday I ran 6 uneventful, cramp free miles.

In other news, I’ve been pretty sick with a cough/cold/sinus thing along with a tooth that’s been hurting major, so this rest from running has helped me deal with these other health issues. I’m actually having my tooth (teeth actually, because there’s 2) pulled next week. Fun times in Helly Land lemme tell ya.

And Phoenix Marathon? I don’t even know what I’m going to do with that. I’ve done zero training for it and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to start something consistent any time soon. It’s been a tough week but I’m hoping things will turn out okay.

So that’s what’s new 😀 What’s going on in your lives? Any surprises like me lol! (I hope only good ones!)

–Ever had a surprise injury?

–Phoenix Marathon is the end of February. Think I still have time to train or should I drop down to the half?

EDIT: In my sleep deprived sick state, I failed to add that the doctor said my cramp issue and stress fracture are unrelated. (This is why I was so confused I was getting x-rays–why did he call for them in the beginning??) He diagnosed me a “salty” person and that I needed to really increase my salt/electroyte intake pre and during race. Even though I already take salt/electrolytes when I race, I need more. I’ll be experimenting with that in two weeks when I hopefully run Fiesta 1/2 Marathon. Thanks for all the love!! ❤ , helly


25 responses

  1. Wow, that totally sucks…who would ever guess stress fracture with symptoms of severe cramps?? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of that, really wow. I guess kudos to your Dr for being thorough in testing and ordering the x-rays an MRIs. I would wait for the results of the MRI before making any marathon decisions. Hope it is not an active fracture and you are able to recover quickly.

    • You reminded me that I didn’t include anything about that, lol! Yeah, the doc said the two were actually unrelated and my cramps are from low sodium/electrolytes. Even though I take salt tabs and electrolytes, I need more since I’m what he considers a “salty” person, jaja!!

  2. Um. WHAT?
    At least you are in good company with the not being able to run? (cough, me) but I hope that your recovery is MUCH faster than mine! GOOD GRAVY. Let me know what the MRI says! I had one yesterday too!

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your injury! It’s frustrating, I know. I’ve ran eight times since Chicago (three of those runs were at Ragnar). Just like you, I feel my plans Phoenix are done. I think I can still run the full but definitely not like I was planning and probably not with a PR. I hope you get good news back because not running sucks!

    • Totally and when you have heart set on a race and you REALLY want to do well, it sucks not being able to put the work into do so. I’m sorry to hear you’re still not 100% either 😦 We’ll get through this!!! ❤ you friend.

  4. I am sorry to hear that happened to you. I had a very similar experience last year about this time! I had tight calf muscles on a few runs and a few times had to stop and stretch…then I would have several happy runs so I kept rolling, stretching, etc…and one day a few months later my left leg just gave way while I was running, no pain, but I couldn’t put weight on it. I went and had a bonce scan and I had a tibial stress fracture. I went in a boot for six weeks…sigh. My endocrinologist said my low Vitamin D was a factor, so I started taking smaller doses with calcium at various times during the day. My D has finally greatly improved doing that and my leg is finally without the niggles in it. I wish you the all the best! Sorry for the long comment. I really do feel your pain and annoyance! It was not a fun experience and I hate to hear a runner friend is having troubles.

    • It sounds pretty much exactly what’s going on with me! Thank you so much for sharing as it really helps hearing others’ experiences. It turns out I have a grade 4 bilateral tibial stress fractures. 😦

      • I am so sorry!! It has been a long process for me. I ran a half yesterday and I can still tell when I have stressed that area. It has been almost a year, but I am stronger ow. I manage things different now. ( I cycle a lot more) Hang in there! All the best to you, I am really am sorry.

  5. Yikes! What a major bummer. And especially to find out that the cramping is completely unrelated to the cramping… Hopefully you get the results in a speedy manner and are back to running ASAP!

  6. Oh my freaking gosh. Are you KIDDING ME. I am going to give you my two cents and post a novel here because I’ve had two stress fractures and one stress reaction. First of all, I agree that it probably doesn’t hurt – I had a stress fracture and a stress reaction in my tibia on two separate occasions. The fracture was barely painful, the reaction was SO painful and the reaction was the lesser of the injuries! So it does actually make some sense to me that the shin splints hurt worse.

    I DO think (please don’t hate me, just my opinion) that you should not run for 3-4 weeks. I’ve tried running through these things and it always just gets worse until I stop. However, I DO NOT think your marathon is out of the question. I had a stress fracture in my femoral shaft in 2013. I ran Boston with it (not knowing that was what it was) and found out right after. Like you, I had a race the weekend after I found out – a half marathon – that I decided not to run. I took 3 weeks off and cross trained like a crazy person. In week 4, I ran a marathon. It was slow, but I did it. In week 5, I paced a friend for a 4:20 marathon no problem. Three weeks after that, I ran a marathon PR and followed it up with a second marathon 6 days later. With the 50 state thing, I didn’t want to miss a race but adjusted my expectations.

    Lastly, check out your calcium consumption. I had my pharmacist friend come up with a supplement plan for me and I have followed it ever since. If you are interested in it, I can pass it on to you. It looks scary at first but it really isn’t.

    I am so very sorry you are going through this. I really do know how you feel and can totally relate. I have been there. If you ever need to vent, I’m here! Heal fast my friend ❤

    • Thank you so much for advice; it really does help hearing others’ experiences.
      I’m def interested in you calcium/supplement plan. I know I’m deficient. Also, when you say you cross trained like a crazy person (which is what I want to do), what exactly did you do? I can’t bike or elliptical but can swim (which I’ve never done).

      • I swam and aqua jogged like crazy. I did bike a lot, though. I also made sure to strength train several times per week to strengthen and balance out my muscles. As for supplements. I take vitamins 4x/day – it is a little annoying because I have a sensitive stomach and have to take them with a decent amount of food. In the morning, I take lysine, iron, a multi, vitamin c, and b12. Those need to be taken separately from the actual calcium so I start that as my first round. A few hours later, I take evening primrose oil, fish oil (you can do flax oil if you can’t stomach fish oil supplements) and a calcium supplement. I repeat that same combo at night. In the middle of the afternoon, I take fish oil and calcium. It’s a lot to remember at first so I set a lot of alarms on my phone, but now I remember to take them!! Even if you just get some calcium and some fish oil (the omega 3s help it to absorb in your bloodstream faster) you will notice improvements!!! You can get through this!

  7. Wow, that’s unexpected!!! I’m sorry that your cramps led to this random and unrelated diagnosis…hopefully they’re old injuries and you won’t have to take too much time off.

    In my news…this is my last week before the marathon! I’m feeling excited and cautiously optimistic that I’ll get through an entire training cycle without injury or illness!

  8. I came over here to see what’s been going on with your injury, and holy cow! I did not expect all that! I’m so sorry to hear this and so bummed that so many of us are injured right now. I’m hoping your MRI results are good and that you can figure out both your cramps and your stress fractures soon!

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