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Search term Sunday: Broken arm? Can’t run?

For this edition of “Search term Sunday,” I bring to you a gem of a statement that someone entered to find this blog.

Someone found my blog by searching “broke my arm cant run” in the past couple days. I shouldn’t be surprised, since I so blatantly decided it was a really, really good idea to run with a broken arm earlier this year.

I ran a trail 10K and a half marathon with measurable pain from my radial head fracture earlier this year. I fell while trying to get in my 15-mile training run for the San Luis Obispo Marathon earlier this year. And I fell hard.

I went for two weeks without getting it checked out because I was convinced it was not broken. But when it didn’t get better, after wrapping and compressing it, I finally caved in and had it checked out.

And the damn thing was broken.

You can kind of see the faint little line from the radial head fracture that derailed my training and had me in pain for more than a month. At this point it was “healing nicely.”

The sports medicine doctor I went to wasn’t even surprised that I was still running. I just kept at it. I held my arm as close as I possibly could to my body. The first image in this blog is of me from my first race after the break. I looked awkward at best, but I got through the 10K.

Afterward that bad boy hurt like you don’t even know. All that jiggling around wasn’t doing me much good.

If it was posed as a question, which it was not, it would be: “Should I run with a broken arm?”

My answer is likely surprising.


At least not in races.


I had two very scary experiences while racing with a broken arm, ones that, had my arm been completely fine, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about.


During the Badger Cove 10K, again where the image at the top of this post comes from, I was doing fine on the uphill and downhills. I was moving along, knowing my body would be sorry for the impact I was putting on it in the long haul.

One descent, though, scared the hell out of me.

As we turned the corner down a hill, I realized I was going down much, much faster than I wanted to. I also realized that, if I was to fall into the bushes I saw at the end of the hill, I would have no viable way to brace myself properly.

It was the first time I had an “oh shit” moment during running. It was scary. I was going fast. I didn’t have momentum control over my upper body like I wanted to either. I was basically out of control.

To top it off, because my arm was broken and my husband wasn’t going with me to the race, I couldn’t wear my tighter, betting gripping, but harder to tie trail shoes. So I was wearing my regular Nikes.

I was scared. I’m glad I didn’t fall. Or go face-first into the bushes. It was definitely a lesson for me.


A week after Badger Cove, I ran the Oakland Half Marathon. My arm was feeling slightly better by then. This is one of the smaller, more spaced out runs I do. But it’s not small, small. It’s averaged sized. But the course transverses most of downtown and West Oakland, so the roads are large enough where people aren’t right on top of each other.

It’s also mostly flat, so I didn’t have to worry about uncontrolled descents.

As we ran through a particularly bland part of Oakland near the industrial area, and before the amazing sight that is Seventh Street and Mandela Parkway (really, if you’re never run this race, this area is my favorite part), another sideswiped me.

Now, I’ve done this myself. But the woman I ran into didn’t have a broken arm. When this guy accidentally ran into me, he hit my left arm so bad I left out a blood curdling noise that was similar to a baby dinosaur in pain. Maybe not so much a dinosaur, but I can imagine it would be.

At that point, it wasn’t so much pain as shock. Apparently my face showed it, even though I kept running.

The man literally stopped running, came back to me and tried to get me to stop running. He told me I looked white. I didn’t feel bad, though. Not until after the race, which brought me my first PR of the year.

I was, again, trying to keep my arm close. But I still was injured. Again.


At the Summer Breeze Half Marathon, I saw a woman in the “hiker” category with an air cast.

I have to say, I never thought of that. I realized that I should have taken advantage of that for the Brazen Badger Cove 10K. I’m sure I would have been allowed to run, an hour earlier, if I had asked and explained my situation. That said, I likely wouldn’t have avoided my scary descent that way. Outside of one stretch of single-track trail, the trails were basically wide open even with all the other runners. I never worried about someone running into me.

The first thing about running with a broken arm is that you don’t want anyone to touch it on accident. The second thing is that you don’t want to fall and get hurt again.

So why chance it?

I know that’s completely opposite to what I did. I’m not a doctor or anything, I can’t give out medical advice. Don’t take this as medical advice. It isn’t. Those two races weren’t my finest moments in running. Would I do it again? Probably not. Two scary broken arm experiences were enough for me. I think I had to experience those events, though, to make me see how ridiculous it was for me to run with a broken arm.

I won’t even get started on the fact that I ran a half marathon five weeks after gallbladder removal surgery. Truth be told, that was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. But I didn’t want to forfeit my registration and reservation fees, or a girl’s weekend away.

That said, those broken-arm races got me ready for the San Luis Obispo Marathon, which was two weekends after Oakland. By the time I hit the start line at that race, I could swing my arm again. I was, basically, better. By May, I was even stronger.

Don’t let that be an indicator, though. I was in pain with all the body pounding during both those runs. It hurt. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.


Run with me!

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