If you follow me on Instagram or are part of my Badass Running Buddies Community, you know I’ve been battling a hamstring/glute issue the past few weeks. It snuck up on me pretty suddenly. One day, I was running speed work comfortably; the next, I was dealing with some pain from a tight hamstring. I continued to run on it since it was really more of an annoyance when running than pain. It altered my gait a little bit, but it really didn’t get bad until I tried to run some 1000-meter repeats. I got 3 in and decided to listen to my coaching brain and call it quits for the day. I ran easy the next day, but took an extra day off to really let me leg rest. I lowered my mileage and started noticing a big difference almost immediately.
Honestly, I feel like I’ve gotten really lucky with injuries the past year. I haven’t hit too many large road blocks in the past 2 years. My last major injury was when I tore my plantar fascia and had to take about a month off of running to let it heal. (I’m not sure I even took that long.) But, other than that, my injuries have been few and far between. Maybe it’s just the nature of my injuries (likely), or that I’m really learning to listen to my body and know when it’s time to take a step back or some time off (my husband is reading this and rolling his eyes…).
No runner WANTS an injury. In fact, it’s a runner’s nightmare. But, sometimes, our stubbornness gets in the way of what we know we NEED to do, and we end up running through something instead of taking the needed time off that we need. It’s definitely not easy to tell when that is the case, but there are things you CAN do to avoid further injury and an extended layoff from running.
REST. Again, a runner’s worst nightmare. Having a training plan can be both a blessing and a curse. You want to have a training plan in order to hit your race goals, but for those of us who are Type A, you don’t want to deviate from the plan because you feel it will screw up EVERYTHING.
But, sometimes, REST is the best thing we can do for our bodies, especially when we are noticing more + more aches and pains. If your legs feel heavy, that is completely normal, as you are most likely adding in more miles and starting to peak in your training. But, if you are noticing pain during or after your runs, this is a clear sign that your body needs a break.
Take an extra day off from running and then reassess. If you are feeling better, it’s OK to try to run again. But, if you are still noticing pain, it’s time to go get it checked out.
LOWER YOUR MILEAGE. One of the things I did when I noticed my hamstring + glute flaring up was I lowered my mileage by HALF. This also meant that I had to skip my planned speed workouts and long runs, but I had to remember that if I wanted to reach my goals, I needed to avoid a longer layoff from running. So, I went from 45 mile weeks to 25 mile weeks for 1-2 weeks.
Take it EASY – that means running SLOW, even slower than your normal easy runs. Avoid any speed work or tempo runs. BUT, if you are feeling an increase in pain on these runs, go back to step one and REST!
REHAB. REHAB. REHAB. I’m lucky enough to have a “team” of professionals I can reach out to when something is feeling “not right”. The first person I went to was my trust chiropractor. He is certified in Active Release Technique (ART) and it has always been one of the best things to help me overcome injuries quickly. (In fact, the reason I started going to him was for a partially torn meniscus that he was able to fix with ART in just 2 weeks.) A quick visit to the chiropractor, an adjustment and some ART, and I was feeling soooooo much better!
My other “secret weapon” as far as my rehab team is training someone who is a physical therapist. A quick query to her about what this possibly could be, and I had an email with all sorts of exercises I needed to be doing to get back to running pain free again.
Oh, and of course, my TWO coaches. I quickly messaged my coach to let her know what was going on and what my plan was, which she completely agreed with. But, I also have my husband (who is also a running coach), that was able to really put it in my head that I needed to take some time off. And thankfully, that extra day or two of rest was exactly what I needed to “reset” my body.
Find YOUR team – the people who will help you get through injury, either with exercises or support, to make it easier to bounce back quickly.
Injuries are some of the HARDEST things a runner has to deal with. If you don’t know what to do or have the support system in place to help you through an injury, whether major or minor, it’s going to be an uphill battle you’re not prepared to fight.
As a VIP member of the Elite Running Academy, not only will you have the support of a coach + fellow runners to support you through your major or minor injury, you will also get access to my injury prevention exercises and a training plan that will train the WHOLE person, so you are less likely to deal with injury! Plus, I will be able to tell you EXACTLY what you need to do if you start feeling some abnormal aches + pains in your running!