Back Injury - Out of Commission

Back Injury – Out of Commission

in Running Life by

You may have noticed a lack of activity on this site as well as my other social channels as of late. And there’s a good reason for it. Not a happy reason, but a good reason.

The Long Story

The long story is, way back in January, I started training for the NYC Half Marathon. And to jump start my training, I started running with my son in our running stroller. I did this as part of my training for the NYC Marathon a few months earlier and it worked out really well so I figured maybe this would be a great way to get some resistance training in and potentially PR the course.

Back Injury - Out of Commission
Running with my son in our running stroller

Well, come early February, my back started to nag at me. I had a problem with it a few years back and after a cortisone shot and some consistent core work, things worked themselves out. But this issue wasn’t going away.

It Gets Worse

Add to the fact that I went on vacation with my wife, son and in-laws to Florida to get out of the cold for a week. While there, my dear mother-in-law booked me a massage. At the time, I thought I was having an issue with my piriformis and the guy who was giving me the massage (note, this was my first and last time getting a massage from a dude) told me he had a great stretch and massage for it.

I hobbled out of that massage and could barely walk by the time I got back to our suite. And by the next day I was searching for an urgent care facility on Sanibel Island. Another cortisone shot and some prescription strength naproxen got me back on my feet over the next five days and some very slow, very short tentative runs.

Race Deferred

So for the first time in my life, I made a smart decision and deferred my entry for the NYC Half. I was so bummed as it was the first time in eight years that I was going to miss the race and it’s one of my absolute favorite courses of any race (along with the BK Half and the NYC Marathon, but I digress).

So over the next month or so, I go to my “guy” the body magician who has always been able to help fix my injuries, but this time didn’t really help. So I tried acupuncture, cupping and some light PT to not much effect. But slowly, ever so slowly, I start increasing my miles and start again to run with my son and the running stroller.

I was able to train to get myself to the end of the Brooklyn Half this year, but then things started to go downhill again.

Come June, I was able to participate in two more races. They weren’t long, one was five miles and the other a 10K, but making it to the finish line was a struggle. So I went to my regular doc and she diagnosed me with a bulging disc, gave me a series of cortisone shots (for those keeping track, that’s four so far this year) and a refreshed prescription for the naproxen.

Back Injury Diagnosis

By the middle of June, it became clear to me that I was going to need some deeper medical intervention and I made an appointment with an orthopedist who sent me for an MRI. Turns out I have a herniated disc at L4-5 that is touching, not impinging, a nerve. So now I know why the pain is radiating down my right leg, but what to do about it?

Treatment and Prognosis

His suggested course of action was a series of three epidural cortisone shots (which would be seven for the year to date, for those keeping score at home). What was I going to do, say no? As of yesterday I’ve had two of them with the last one scheduled for next Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, NYC Marathon training season began. I had my sights set on hiring a coach to help me PR the course (that means a 3:45 or better) which I think is still doable if I can get on my feet by next week. So my prognosis is hopeful.

I wanted to offer you an explanation for the radio silence and I guess just get it out there. Overall I’ve been really, really lucky in the 10 years since I’ve started running, this is the only serious injury I’ve ever had, and to be honest, looking at the bigger picture it’s not that bad.

Wish me luck with my last shot next week. I’ll do another post about my treatment as it’s pretty wild (and painful).


  1. Eric, Your posts and tips helped me immensely in last years NYC Marathon. Continue to enjoy your posts.
    Sorry to hear your current, temporary, set back. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
    All the best,

      • Not this year as I was lucky enough to get in for Chicago in October. But New York was such an outstanding race (and City) will for sure run this again.

  2. Eric,
    I’ve been running four years. A late in life runner. Before becoming a runner, and I without question call myself just that now, I herniated two discs and ruptured a third. That pain running down the sciatic is fun isn’t it? I can only imagine the concern if this happened after discovering my love to run. Anyhow, the greatest thing I learned to do was two types of crunches. 900 of each first thing when I get up every day. Every single day. It took a good six months but the discomfort and pain went away. Granted unlike you now I was very out of shape at the time. Several years later I still do 900 each everyday. I have no pain or discomfort. I also try to do everything standing up. Sitting is not your friend. I’m no Dr. But can relate to what you’re going through and wanted to share my experience of living with this problem and how I’ve successfully managed it. May not be scientific but it’s been effective BTW, never ever effects my running. Best of luck, you can overcome this and still run a great marathon this November.

  3. Eric,

    Your tips and posts are always great to read and have helped me a lot. I hope you have a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you crush the NYC Marathon this November and the NYC Half next March

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