I’m back on injured reserve. This time with (suspected but highly likely) hamstring tendinitis. At least it’s cold out, right?
I start off the week with some bad news, my friends. I’m on injured reserve again for the next several weeks. I have suspected (unconfirmed but likely) hamstring tendinitis. It’s been a long time coming in retrospect. Why? Each time we do a workout or go for a run, our muscles tear a teeny tiny bit. These microtears are important to muscle building. The same thing happens with tendons and ligaments. Tendons and ligaments take much longer to heal, however, and with repetitive tearing they sometimes become so injured they’re unable to heal enough to sustain exercise.
In my case, I trained for ten months straight. Sure, my mileage was conservative and I took ample rest days. I’m not one to run through pain so I listened to my body. But late in the summer when I started feeling “injured” I didn’t realize what it was and ignored it. Truth be told, I thought it was a varicose vein issue but I couldn’t have been more wrong. And now here I am, unable to run at all. My first clue that I was overtraining should have been when I felt like I was suffering burnout.
I did have a wonderful season of racing and for that I’m truly thankful. I had high hopes for a spring distance race but I’m rethinking that strategy until I see how I do with recovery. I’m taking several days off until I try cycling in place of running. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to continue exercise in some capacity.
Thankfully I managed to get some runs in until disaster struck. Two runs with friends can’t be all bad, right?
Back on Injured Reserve: Hamstring Tendinitis
Tuesday — 5 miles + strength training
I ran on the treadmill on Tuesday and finished up with strength work. It was a nice, relaxing run (as treadmill runs usually are).
Wednesday — 4.05 miles + yoga
On Wednesday morning I met my friend in our local park. It was snowy, very (very) cold, slippery, and hilly. About halfway into our run I felt a searing pain in the back of my leg. I thought perhaps I just needed to adjust my gait but in reality I knew it was a serious injury. I adjusted as best I could, but due to the cold and the distance from the car, I couldn’t stop running completely. Luckily, after the initial shot of pain, it wasn’t so bad and I could finish the run.
I decided to do gentle yoga in the afternoon to help stretch out my hamstring and relieve the residual tightness. It helped quite a bit.
Thursday — strength training
Although I planned on a Thursday morning run, I opted for strength training instead. It was very light and I didn’t feel strained at all. Obviously I took this as a sign that I could, in fact, run again.
Friday — 5.04 miles
Friday was yet again very, very cold. Single digit windchill. Why do I keep mentioning the cold? Because I’m certain it played a part in the culmination of my injury. I met my friend Carole for some trail miles. Right away my left hamstring was on fire. I knew it was going to be a tough run but I was stupidly stubborn. We got onto the trail and it was almost impassable. I frankly had no interest in trudging through 5 inches of snow for 5 miles (and neither did she) so we hopped on the road instead. The road was a little easier for me to control when/if I felt pain, but it still wasn’t good. It finally came to a head less than a mile from the car. The searing pain returned and I couldn’t run even if I wanted to. I was hobbling when walking, and my form was completely compromised when I did try to run.
I came home very defeated and in a lot of pain.
Saturday — rolling + yoga
I spent the day on Saturday rolling and doing yoga. Part of my injury is no doubt due to muscle tightness and adhesions. Injuries suck big time but at least I learn a valuable lesson from each one. I learn new exercises, new ways to roll, and best practices for keeping myself injury-free. And yoga — I won’t forget to do that during my next training cycle!
So why do I keep bringing up the cold? Because when it’s cold out, our muscles aren’t able to warm up, expand/contract, and function quite as well as when it’s more mild out. I think the two runs I did in the single digits really did me a huge disservice with my tendon issue. I’m unsure of if there’s an actual tear or if it’s just a bad case of tendinitis. I would need an MRI to confirm. An MRI may be in my future but I’m planning on taking plenty of time off to recover regardless.
I planned on ramping up my mileage in January and February, but I won’t consider doing that until at least mid-February. As I mentioned, I plan on keeping my cardio and fitness up with other workouts. So long as there’s no pain with other forms of exercise, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The sliver of silver lining is that I have a lot on my plate for the next several months. Not having to worry about fitting in training runs will help ease the burden and allow me to concentrate more on training other people, working with kids, and other odds and ends. Everything happens for a reason, right?
Have you been injured recently?
What’s your favorite non-running form of cardio?