Hi there! How was your weekend?
As a runner, I constantly attempt to balance the fine line of being cautious about potential injury and pushing my limits. I’m sure you do as well.
Niggles, sore spots, and injuries all are contemptible, annoying, unnerving, and just plain awful to endure. But the risk comes with the territory of sports, of training and improving. Of course many injuries can be prevented through strength training, smart racing and training strategies, and good nutrition; but many just happen – maybe you slipped, twisted something, threw your biomechanics off, or something.
Could you sit on the sofa and avoid all sprains and strains? Yes, yes you could, but is avoiding injury worth avoiding the fitness, mental and physical health, adventure, sense of accomplishment, and sheer joy that comes with running, hiking, cycling, swimming, whatever? Never, at least in my opinion.
Runners are called endurance athletes for a reason: we endure all sorts of ups and downs in our training. Endurance encompasses more than the physical capacity to run many miles without stopping. Endurance is a state of mind and a habit of being. We endure the discomfort of a hard workout, the mental suffering, the blistering pace, and muscle fatigue in racing, and the down time of injury or recovery.
So this week I endured rest and recovery as I played it cautious to keep a niggle from morphing into an injury. I won’t deny that I miss running, but this time I knew deep down that rest was right for my body, which made it mentally easier. If I had rested, iced, compressed, and been deliberate about recovery when my sprained ankle was in the acute stage, I would have avoided the time off from running. All that matters to me right now is running again by the end of July so I can start training for the California International Marathon.
Monday: 5 mile easy hill run + 4 strides
Since I had been back to running for 3 full weeks at this point, I decided to try adding in a few strides. I usually vary up how I do strides: sometimes I do them after a run, other times I thrown them in over the second half of the run in a manner more like surges. I did hill sprints for about half of my half marathon training earlier this year and plan on resume those for marathon training, but I figured a conservative approach would be to start with strides.
Well, as I mentioned in Thursday’s post, near the end of my fourth stride my right hamstring seized up near the knee. No popping sensation, just like a sudden cramp. My biomechanics were probably a bit off as I rehab my sprained foot and the sidewalk had a bit of a slant, which likely increased the risk of tweaking my hamstring.
Tuesday: 40 minute walk with Charlie + 30 minutes Pilates
I had Tuesday planned as my rest day, which worked well for resting my leg. The weather in the Seattle area feels like autumn, even though it’s summer, so I can’t resist time outside on any trails. Charlie and I enjoyed a morning walk instead of a run, hoping to get some exercise while resting my hamstring.
Wednesday: AM: 1 mile run + 1 mile walk; PM: 1 mile walk + upper body weights
By Wednesday morning, I forgot about my hamstring tightness until my run. After walking for about a tenth of a mile to warm up, I started running and quickly noticed some tightness, almost like a cramping sensation on my hamstring right above my knee. I gave myself a mile to loosen up, but once I hit one mile and the tightness hadn’t subsisted, I turned around and walked the mile back to my car. Not worth it.
Not getting to run was admittedly disappointing. The weather was perfect for running: mid-40s, partly sunny, long sleeve with thumbholes and shorts weather. I just had gotten back into normal running routine after my sprained foot, but I also knew that pushing through any issues is borrowing miles from future running.
Thursday: 50 minute walk with Charlie
A 50 minute walk sounds far in theory, but with a Charlie’s beagle tendencies we barely covered 1.5 miles: sniff, mark, sniff, attempt to chase a rabbit, sniff some more, mark again, more sniffing.
Friday: AM: 40 minutes walk with Charlie; PM: 20 min treadmill walk and 20 minutes strength training
Beautiful sunny weather made Charlie’s and my walk quite enjoyable, and being outside even when I can’t run sure beats being stuck in the gym.
Saturday: 30 minute treadmill walk + 20 minutes strength training
Saturday had rainy, chilly, just generally dreary weather, so we scratched all plans of outdoor activities and decided to hike on Sunday. Ryan did his long run on the treadmill, while I just walked, listened to podcasts, and did upper body and core exercises.
Saturday night after Mass we treated ourselves to beer and a shared order of fries at our favorite brewery. With both Ryan and I pursuing athletic goals (him more than I right now, since I spent most of this week walking), we eat primarily nutritious, minimally processed whole foods and avoiding skipping workouts unless we need to, and it’s relaxing (and mentally healthy I believe) to treat ourselves every once and while. Plus, Ryan had completed his longest continuous run this year – always worth celebrating!
Sunday: 5 mile hike
Ryan, Charlie, and I headed out to Stevens Pass early for a short and relatively flat hike. Since we were in no rush, we let Charlie play in the stream and frolic around off-leash (as long as it was safe and there were no other people around).
The lake was extra picturesque as it was nestled at the base of Mt. Baring. It took us only about 50 minutes to climb and descend, so we spent about an hour or so exploring along the lake and letting Charlie play in the water.
This week I’m going to attempt 5-10 minutes of running on Monday. If my hamstring and foot feel good, my plan is to very gradually ease back into mileage. If my hamstring tightens up or hurts, I’m going to cross-train, make a PT appointment, and just keep icing and resting it. There are times in running to take risks and push yourself, but not when it comes to any pain or potential injury.
Linking up with Weekly Wrap!
Do you include strides in your training?
How do you find the balance between fending off injury and improving at your running?
What was your highlight of the weekend?
Receive Weekly Running Tips & Motivation
Subscribe for my weekly newsletter and receive a free download of injury prevention exercises for runners.