Usually I’m all about “Embracing the Hill, picking the toughest route and going after it. Today is much different. Today marks eight days of not running. It is self-prescribed rest, which I’m convinced is what a physical therapist will recommend when I finally get into my appointment on the 17th. What brought on this running hiatus: what I believe to be high hamstring tendinopathy; basically tendinitis in the tendon at the top of the hamstring muscle group. Granted this is a self-diagnosis at this point and has yet to be confirmed by my PT, but based on this very helpful article and an email into my PT sister-in-law (who really knows her stuff) I’m pretty sure that high hamstring tendinopathy has been the cause of the achy/tightness I’ve been experiencing since August.
Choosing rest isn’t always the easiest thing for me to do, more often than not (which seems to be the case with most runners) I push through minor pain and keep training, especially if I have a race coming up. In August as I felt a tightening in my hamstring/glute area I treated it with two days off, a few visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist and then I was back at it. Helpful, but probably not enough. But I had a race coming up. I wasn’t willing to risk taking DAYS off (now I’m entering my second WEEK off). I continued to run through September, October and into the beginning of November and the achy, tightness never really went away. I would feel it most at the beginning of a run before I warmed up, at faster paces and after especially hilly runs. Mostly I felt stiff and inflexible not painful. Usually stuff like that works itself out, but this has not. Which brought me to Google last week after a strong, but hilly 10 miler on Sunday–my hamstring was nice and tight afterwards. I have to do something about this I thought. Before it gets too bad.
I won’t know for certain what exactly I’m dealing with, the severity and the possible recovery time until I see the physical therapist on the 17th. But I’m hoping that two weeks of not running will put me ahead of the recovery game. Honestly recovery and rest aren’t places I like to be. I function better in “hard” and “challenging.” I love the work of running and training. So resting doesn’t come easy. Quite honestly it is very reminiscent of last year, when I was forced to rest thanks to a weak pelvic floor and leaky bladder. I can remember last year in those weeks of not running wanting desperately to run. For me the run isn’t always about the run. If it was I’d be a happy treadmill runner. No, for me a big part of the run is about the ROAD. As cheesy as it may sound I really do run for the road ahead. There are some roads I have a “relationship” with. I run them for how they make me feel, for the view, for the hill, for the memory of a certain run, for the curve and the bend in the road. There’s something about certain roads, that calls me outside to run down them. When I don’t run. I miss those roads. I miss those bends and curves and hills. I miss the way they make me feel and the things they make me think about. Sometimes I drive down them even when I can’t run down them, and I think about how THIS spot looks like from the ground when I’m running.
Missing the road isn’t the only hard part about rest. I miss training FOR something. Like a spring marathon. I abandoned last years plans for a spring marathon (and rightly so…my pelvic floor was in no shape for the pounding it would have received form marathon training). I’m wondering if I’ll need to abandon that plan again. I’m not sure I can train the way a marathon warrants, especially if I’m recovering. It is disappointing. I’m finding thanks to my experience last year that I’m much more relaxed when it comes to future running goals. If there is no spring marathon, there will be something other goals that can take it’s place. Goals that are much more inline with what my body is capable of. I
I may or may not have to modify my goals, but I do know that the less you run the more fitness you lose. Rest is important. But when you work so hard to get to a certain level of fitness, potentially PR fitness, there can be a fear that all that will be lost with rest. Experience has proved to me that this isn’t true. I’ve come back from each pregnancy faster. Yes, I may loose fitness, but it will come back and probably much more quickly than recovering from labor and delivery. Rest doesn’t always mean a loss.
Forced rest also gives me time to focus on my weaknesses. Specifically my pelvic floor, hips and core which are obviously STILL weak a year after giving birth. These are all contributing factors to high hamstring tendinopathy. But those are the only potential culprits: I’m pretty aware my running form is deficient. I over-stride. Which means my lead foot reaches way out in front of my hips, forcing the hamstring to pull my hips back over my knees/feet as I stride forward. That added load on the hamstring is mostly likely a huge contributing factor to the achy/tightness I feel. So now, during this time of rest I have the chance to strengthen my hips and core. I also have the chance to work on adjusting my stride (not an easy task for sure), working to get the lead leg underneath my hips instead of out in front of them.
Rest and injury aren’t always fun. But I’m trying to apply that “Embrace the Hill” philosophy to something I find even harder than hills: rest.
Here’s to Embracing the Rest!
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