Niggle, verb: To cause slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety.
You know when you’ve never heard a word before, and all of a sudden you hear it everywhere? That happened to me on Thursday with the word niggle. I’ve been having some cramping below my calf, and my running buddy, who ran track in college, said my recent increase in training was giving me the niggles. Later that day, I explained my semi-injury to another friend, who also ran at a high level, and he used the same word to describe my problem.
I realize this is not a fantastic story, but as a word, Niggle has a great onomatopoeic quality. It’s also a word that seems to reside completely in the culture of endurance sports. This happens to every subgroup. Being super into anything comes with a language and a set of problems unique to that interest. Beer people have all sorts of adjectives that make no sense to me; tennis players have to accept asymmetrical muscle mass. Runners have niggle, and this morning, a tender calf.