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Understanding Run Jail (Admit It, You’ve Done Time!) 

27 April
Stuck in Run Jail

Do the Crime, Do the Time!

Sometimes running isn’t an option. It’s a hard thing for runners to admit, but we all have a “line” somewhere at which point, running is no longer good for our bodies.

I have seen folks hard at work, limping and barely power-walking around town in an attempt to run. A long time ago I promised myself that I would NOT be that runner.

I love running but I treasure my overall health more. Even things that are good for you in moderation aren’t always good for you. Sugar. Television. And yes, even running.

What is Run Jail?

You are in Run Jail when you can no longer run and be healthy. Run Jail is defined as the time when you search out other means of aerobic exercise. It could be the elliptical, the stair master, cycling, swimming, etc.

I like the concept of Run Jail as it’s not permanent.

  • You can earn your way out via good behavior (aka do your rehab work).
  • It’s a place you go but not a lifestyle (you can visit, but you can also leave).
  • There are special rules you need to follow when in Run Jail.
  • Run Jail sucks. You are highly incentivized not to return.

Full Disclosure — I am currently in Run Jail as I work my way through some non-specific left hip pain. Currently in therapy as of April 2016, fingers crossed!

How Long Does Run Jail Last?

It really depends on what you are dealing with. If your injury is more traumatic, you could have a significant period of recovery before you can even begin getting back to work.

For issues such as Plantar Fasciitis, which stick around forever, you might alternate time in and out of Run Jail. Probably something like parole!

Most run injuries / issues can be addressed within a two- to four-week window. This assumes that you stopped before significant damage occurred. And that you can quickly identify the issue.

What are the Best Alternatives to Running?

This really depends on the issue you are having. Your injury and your Physical Therapist should both be able to guide you here. If it hurts, don’t do it.

Ideally you have access to some of the following resources:

  • An Elliptical Machine — These are great as there is minimal impact and you can closely mimic the running motion. Bonus that you can use the handles to stabilize yourself if needed.
  • A Pool with Deep Water — Deep Water running is incredible exercise when done right (you can add fins for resistance). You can also run exactly as you do on dry land for specificity.
  • A Treadmill — For walking (at incline) and eventually transitioning back to running at a reasonable pace. Treadmills are great tools to run / walk intervals as you move down the spectrum to better health.

What’s Your Run Jail Story?

The most important thing to know is that you are not alone. There are very few runners who are 100% healthy…and you WILL be back one day.

As you navigate your Run Jail, please share your story with us. You can visit us on Facebook: or simply use the hashtag #runjail on your social media channel of choice!

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One Response to “Understanding Run Jail (Admit It, You’ve Done Time!) ”

  1. Jae lee January 16, 2017 at 12:22 am #

    I *knew* there was a word for this misery of not running!!! I’m in Run Jail because I fell and tore a hip flexor on a 13-mile run…with 5 miles to go. Which I ran. Stupidstupidstupid

    I tried a short run 5 days later. Stupid. I tried swimming 3 days after that. Also stupid. Swimming made it worse, so I started PT.

    I find it so easy to be disciplined about running but not so PT. It’s just so…not running. But I am trying to stick to it!!!

    I was also supposed to stay off my feet altogether, but what with hosting Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping… but then I got pneumonia. Off my feet? You bet!

    It’s been 3 months since I fell, 10 days since pneumonia cleared. I think I’ll be out of Run Jail in 3 weeks–I hope to start running on the day I was supposed to run my first marathon…

    In the meantime, I’ve been reading up on good running form and how to train; planning a Ragnar Relay team; and doing a lot of online shopping…for running clothes!

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