Lesson Learned: Rest When Injured

Knowing when to say when isn’t always that easy – especially when you’re the classic type A person on a mission to accomplish something.

I’ve been training for months for my half marathon. I have a very specific time goal that I want to hit and I’ve been so diligent in my training to do everything I can to hit that goal. I hired a run coach to help me train. I mapped out my 12 week running plan to include hill and speed workout, short and long runs, and incorporated training paces that progressively increased for each segment. I even have my training plan color coded so it gives it more depth and life. Yes, I’m that anal about things. I’m not the fastest runner, but I am a runner who plans, trains, and generally works hard to accomplish her goals.

You can probably guess what happened… I got hurt. I pulled my left hamstring and watched all my training go out the window. Well, maybe its not that dramatic but it certainly put a damper on things.

Rest When Injured

A few weeks ago while I was training and running hills, I felt it… a slight twinge in my hamstring. Like many other stubborn runners, I chose to ignore it and assumed it would just go away. I kept running and running – for weeks. I kept doing speed work and hills. I worked my way up to 10 and 11-mile runs. My half marathon is only a few weeks away. I needed to get my runs in! But, my body just wasn’t cooperating.

The result? I have been benched from running for the last eight days. After my last 11-mile run, I could barely stand up and take a step. Since then, I’ve been foam rolling and working my hamstring back to health. I know this is something I should have done when the pain first happened, but I’m used to approaching things head on and just powering through. This time, the lesson I learned was that I needed to pull back to get ahead. I think we can all relate to that – whether personal or professional.

All that being said, after 8 days of rest, my hamstring is feeling a lot better. Its still sore and I’m going to give it another day or two before testing out a short run. I’m still planning to run my half marathon, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may not hit my race pace goal. I’m actually OK with that because I recently signed up for another half marathon in early December and will continue working towards my race pace goal.

So, what am I doing to work through my slight hamstring pull? Here’s what seems to be working for me:

  1. Ice – I’ve been icing my hamstring multiple times a day. I keep it on for about 20 minutes and reapply a few times. I’ve been taking ice packs to work and doing it throughout the day while at the office.
  2. Foam Rolling – I’ve been carefully foam rolling my hamstring, but also my buttocks, quads and hip area. Because I’ve been limping around, I’m overusing other muscles that I don’t normally use. Foam rolling is helping to keep things loose all around.
  3. Lacrosse Ball Massage – In addition to foam rolling, I’ve become addicted to my lacrosse ball. (Great tip from my run coach!) It’s a little more solid than a tennis ball and larger than a golf ball. I use it as an additional massage to get in there and work my hamstring muscles. I’m very careful not to use too much pressure, but its get to places that my foam roller just can’t reach.
  4. Omega-3s – Finally, I’m taking an extra dose of omega-3s to help with the inflammation in the body.

I’m slowly feeling better and can’t wait to start running again! To be honest, I’m slowly losing my mind not being able to get out there. When I’m not running, I spin. Because this is a hamstring pull, that’s off the table too. I keep telling myself that the rest will help and I’ll be back out there in no time!

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