Monday, November 4, 2013

The Possible Stress Fracture Heard Around the World

I knew it was only a matter of time really before a big one hit but hopefully it's not as big as I'm afraid it will be.

Since I'm now an insured individual and the marathon is over I decided it was finally time to visit the ortho doc about this stupid leg pain. It's only been 2 months right? ...or 3... But I want to be in tip top shape before Raleigh so I made an appointment to get checked out. An hour and twenty minutes after my appointment time I was taken back to the little waiting room and threw on my pair of shorts I put in my purse so I wouldn't have to wear their terrible paper ones. I should've taken a picture. Work top and sweater with some gray short shorts. Hot stuff.

Dr. Smith came in (who I apparently saw in 2009 about my IT band after my first half) and was all sports analogies charismatic fit doctor I-won't-call-you-sweetheart-again-after-that-look-you-gave-me-but-I'll-still-call-you-things-like-champ-and-hotshot. He's actually a cool guy in the douchy cool guy way. The best part about the orthos is that they never judge you for waiting until after a big race to have things fixed. He asked how long I'd had pain and I said probably 2-3 months but I had a marathon to run. Instead of judgment he asked how it went. Dr. Smith, you're the best. He poked and prodded and then decided on an xray just to rule out a break or bone tumors (WHAT?!) and bet his house it would come back normal. He said he was really thinking quad strain or the dreaded femoral stress fracture. The xray came back clean and then he randomly (I thought) asked me about my menstrual cycle.


But if you're a female athlete, read on because this could effect you too.

I thought it was bizarre he asked me that but he's a doctor so I told him the truth (no nervous lying!). I probably never mentioned it here but up until September I hadn't had a regular period in over a year and went a good 8 to 10 months at least without having one at all. At first I thought it was awesome since I don't like or want kids but then I thought it was a little weird that I had nothing going on. Then I started to panic a bit and took about 150 pregnancy tests of varying brands at varying times which all came up thankfully negative. So like any good athlete who cares about their body, I ignored it and chalked it up to being evolutionarily challenged. (This is a joke I make about me and The Colonel since we don't have the urge to procreate.) Dr. Smith informed me that when your cycle stops it could be a sign of the reproductive system essentially shutting down for one reason or another which throws off female hormones which leads to a screwed up bone metabolism. Weak bones can equal stress fractures.

Well crap. So much for free birth control through slightly excessive exercise.


I consulted my dear friend Google for symptoms of quad strains vs. symptoms of femoral stress fractures and it wasn't pretty. Bone cancer did come up of course since it's the internet but luckily the X-Ray wrote that off. Everything I read about femoral stress fractures was right on and quad strain was close but not quite. 

I looked for causes and found a lot of information regarding nutrition. I started to worry my vegetarian diet was the culprit but that isn't so. Plus I asked the doctor who clarified it isn't necessarily what I eat, it's more a problem of quantity. I know from random days of tracking that I run a calorie deficit far too often but I never considered it to be THAT big of a deal. For example, marathon day my Garmin predicted I burned over 3000 calories. The meal I ate after was a sandwich from Jimmy Johns which runs around 680 calories. I can't remember what I had for dinner but I know it wasn't much because I wasn't hungry. I replaced a few hundred calories as I ran but the numbers alone don't lie. Huge deficit. Today I calculated what I ate yesterday and my trail run yesterday morning which burned a Garmin estimated 900+ calories. Turns out I ate about 1300 calories and burned over 900. Doesn't take a genius to see the issue with that. 

So. Now we wait. My MRI to confirm or deny a stress fracture/quad strain is Wednesday afternoon and next Wednesday I see the doctor again. If it is indeed a stress fracture it looks like crutches and a lot of swimming is in my future. For a quad strain we can look at physical therapy. Either way, no running for a while which broke my little "running an impromptu half marathon THIS Sunday" heart. Thankfully I do have Raleigh hovering around which has enabled me to keep the focus on getting better and will hopefully keep me from doing anything stupid like "an easy short run" in the meantime.

This is NOT how I was hoping to start my relationship with my new coach :(


  1. You work so hard, I know you don't want to give up running and I hope is its a quad strain instead of a stress fracture. You get to be called champ lol

  2. I'm glad you went to the ortho though for answers... like you said, they understand. I have a herniated disc in my low back & my docs tell me to stop running... my ortho? Tells me to start training for a marathon, just do it carefully :)
    I would have FREAKED OUT at the words tumor!!!! So glad that got knocked off the list quickly!
    I'm jealous of your missing periods... I better rephrase that - I'll probably go into menopause & have hot flashes & regret ever saying that statement! :)

    1. I generally don't freak out about anything doctors say until at least a few hours after a visit so cancer and tumor didn't bother me. I have to take my time digesting things. I would've been perfectly happy with missed periods if it didn't mean my bones are now screwed up. I think everyone knows I'll take hot flashes over babies any day.