Personal Musings

Flowchart for whether you should run today on a bum leg

A visual guide for stubborn runners

As a self-described stubborn runner, I have a hard time taking a day off, even when injured. For example, like today, in which I’m debating between pes anserine bursitis or a strain or minor tear to my MCL. I’m not sure what the hell is wrong but there’s a pain on the inside of my right leg close to my knee I’ve never had before. I went for an eight mile run last week and had to gimp my way back home the last mile because the pain became so severe.

I created this handy visual guide (see below) for hardheaded runners like me who are, nine times out of ten, going to lace up their running shoes regardless of what their body is telling them and hit the trails. Note the last point, which is: Text your significant other and tell them to keep their phone handy in case of an emergency.

My wife is familiar with this approach. Here are a few sample texts you are welcome to re-use in varying ways, be it injury, weather, or digestive upset:

  • Going for a run. Keep your phone handy in case I need an ambulance. You can pinpoint my location on RunKeeper.
  • Headed out for a run. Keep your phone handy in case this 100 degree heat gets to me ten miles down the road. Probably should have brought water.
  • Leaving now for a run. Not taking toilet paper. Hopefully I’m done with this diarrhea. Might need you to pick me up.
Flowchart for stubborn runners who are going to run whether they are in pain or not

If you enjoyed this short essay, share it with your friends and then read about the time I almost got my ass kicked by a Canadian goose while on a run at “When Geese Attack.”

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated,, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.

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