HOW A STEP BACK WAS THE WAY FORWARD

A little less than 4 weeks before NYCM* I had that moment you really, really want to avoid during marathon ramp-up. My tight hamstring had been complaining since Sunday’s long run. I didn’t know what I was listening for and so went out for my ‘easy 8’ that Monday. Only to walk in the last 800m. I randomly had a massage scheduled and so go into that at night. The next day, no difference. Cut my run at 2 miles and did Jasyoga. Wednesday I warmed up along the Foothills Trail for a big 20 mile workout, hamstring tight but not debilitating. Then as I pushed off to start my workout, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Sharp pain struck the belly of the muscle. I limped the 3 miles back to my car, unable to jog.

As I did my runner’s walk of shame I decided then and there this was a bump in the road. Not a road block. I turned my cap around backwards so I could fully see the day, the bright leaves, the clouds. I pulled my shoulders back. Whatever this was, it was what it was, no crying or sulking was going to change that. 




I got in the car and called a chiropractor/PT I’d heard good things about. I called Steph and told her the hammy twinge was now a full blown issue. I got home and dug into my ‘office’ work. When I started stressing, I made a list of things I could and could not control. I could not heal my hamstring overnight, I could not go back in time and see the warning signs. I could dedicate myself to getting better and stronger. I could make a cross training plan (after seeing the PT). I could concentrate on my nutrition. I could meditate.

I got into the PT the next day, and he told me it was a level one hamstring strain. I ended up taking five days off. Everything aggravated the hot spot. I swam with arms only on two days, and otherwise dedicated my time to the exercises he’d given me.  I went in every other day for ART, graston, etc. And on that Sunday, slowly resumed training. Instead of the scheduled 22, I did 8 miles running and an hour on the elliptical. 




Side note: after seeing a more specialized running PT I think this was more groin related than actual hamstring. There’s a muscle that wraps around and often is misdiagnosed as hammy. BUT either way the cause was the same, my glutes weren’t working, the imbalance eventually lead to one leg working for two and blowing out a smaller muscle that wasn’t equipped to carry the load.

You know what causes an actual revival in the dedication to the little stuff? Injury. Sucks, because if we listened to our bodies and committed the time before the imbalances got worse and became injuries … well let’s just say a lot of PTs would be short on business.

The silver lining here was this, I had four weeks to turn myself around and work on building a truly functional posterior chain. I finally understood that imbalance will catch up with you, and how to recognize and adapt to an imbalance I hadn’t dealt with before. But you're the real silver lining here! You can be not like me. Do the opposite. Really listen to your coach, your PT, your own body and avoid the week (month) off. Below is the advice I wish I’d put into action:


CUT YOUR EASY DAY
Skip :20 minutes of an easy run or your second run and commit it to core/glute routine. Marathoners, what breaks down at the end of a race? Nope it’s not your cardio capability. It’s your body. Get stronger, run fast longer.

But if you’re like me, you barely have time for the run you do everyday. It’s very hard to find extra time. Oh, being injured? That added hours to my day, and took $$ out of my pocket. Steal from your easy miles if you are short on time. Strength and balance > junk miles.

LET GO OF MILEAGE OBSESSION
No one told me this, but I’m saying it. It goes hand-in-hand with the above advice. Yes, you need to hit mileage to run a strong marathon, but don’t get so obsessed with your weekly mileage that you don’t get to the starting line. Who cares if you did 80 miles in September if you’re on the injury bench on race day? If you feel imbalances, listen and adapt. Being flexible will get your farther than being rigid. 


Note: my peak mileage for CIM was 67, my peak mileage for NYCM was 78. Just sayin.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
One day down is sometimes how you stay up. I’d never had hamstring issues before, so I do think I listened as well as I could have without the first hand knowledge. Every setback is an opportunity to get to know your body. To learn the difference between pain and injury. 



BE CONSISTENT
Consistency is powerful. I dedicated an hour every day for four weeks to the exercises I was given. I did activation before every single run. I did Jasyoga at least 3 x a week. Even if it was the #5minreset. I feel stronger and more balanced than ever. And bonus, I actually have a 2 pack ab situation going on. That’s after less than four weeks. It works. Do it every damn day. 


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Bottom line: I was loading an unbalanced body, it was only a matter of miles before something gave. I’m glad I had time to right the ship. I felt confident, strong and thankful coming into New York. Getting to the starting line is truly a big part of the battle when you’re a marathoner. I felt super fit and was excited to see what my new found booty could do.

THANK YOU
The people that got me to the starting line healthy, and even a little stronger than before.

NW Sports Rehab** (Washington)
They got me in the next day and worked with me to get me back on the roads fast. They gave me a warmup I’ll use for years to come and really understood what I needed to get training ASAP and finish that race strong. They also let my toddler play in the waiting room (supervised by my FIL).

Foundation Performance (Rhode Island)
Mike Silva is that ideal combination of detective, problem solver and magician that every runner needs. Doesn’t hurt that he’s worked with basically every big name in the biz, from Shalane to Molly. And only for him would I try dry needling. Seriously, can barely type those words.
Human Body Works (Washington)
A masseuse that digs deep, and understands athletes. She even traveled with Team USA to Rio. Highly recommend to any runner in the South Sound.

Jasyoga (Global)
This is getting a separate post. Everything Erin teaches aligns directly with what my chiropractor and Mike Silva said. Everything. This is truly yoga for athletes. Seriously, I tell Erin to increase the membership rate every time I do a video. It’s under $5 a month!! It’s a crime against your runner body not to join.

Addaday (Global)
Much like glute bridges, I “believed” in rolling. My obsession with their stick rollers is real. They have gears that actually dig in and make a difference.

Steph Bruce (Badassville)
If Steph told me to go stand on my head in the backyard for :30 a day I would. She wouldn’t say that. But I follow this woman’s word verbatim, no questions asked. Okay some questions asked. But her calm guidance keeps me in the world of the sane. 



* This blog was written before NYCM and altered after, it's not an excuse why I ran a 2:51, I still am processing how that was truly my best on the day... I'll let you know if I figure anything out.
** Their site is down, so this is a Yelp link.

Comments

  1. So glad to hear you got to the starting line in one piece. Sometimes you definitely have to back things down before you get where you are going. And wow! a 2:51, that is still incredible in my book!

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