There’s a running joke among my friends that every time I sing up for a race, I get injured. Sure enough, I signed up for the all-women Hibiscus Half Marathon at the end of May, in preparation for my full marathon looming in October. Sure enough, the next day I wake up with a painful, throbbing, possibly pulled/strained hamstring.
My first reaction is tears & dramatics: why does this always happen to me?? I’m doing so well, I can’t lose all my progress! Why???
The truth: I get hurt all the time because I overtrain. I love running, but I’m not a natural runner. I’m thick, heavy-footed and a little slow, so it’s really tough for me to build up solid speed and miles. As ambitious as signing up for the half marathon was, it was equally overzealous. Right now, I’m only running about 5-6 miles, which I already built up to a little too fast.
I should have learned by now that building a strong foundation – even if it’s at a slower pace and for less miles – is the key to avoiding injury. Of course, everyone is different, but this is the truth for me and my body.
The second truth: I ignore the red flags of injury until it’s too late. My hamstring really, really hurt, yet I went bodyboarding (which includes hamstring-involved fins) for several hours the next two days. Then, on the third day of increasing pain, I went on a hike. A hike which my friends and I had researched to be quick and easy; for someone with an injury, through, I might as well have dragged my hurt leg up Mount Everest.
These are my mistakes, which I routinely make out of love and passion for the activities in my life. For now, I’m going to do the one thing that can fix injuries for the better: REST.
The hardest thing for an active person/athlete in the world is to actually rest. If dragging my hamstring through red hot pokers was an option, I’d pick it over resting for a week in a heartbeat. I mean, we get it. We don’t want to lose our progress. We don’t want to start over. We don’t. want. to. rest.
For the next week (I’m praying I can make it that long!) I’m going to rest. I’ll make sure to carefully apply ice, do gentle yoga & stretching to keep my legs limber, and work out my arms & back until I’m ready to hit the road again. As much as it hurts to take a whole week off, I’m hoping it’ll lead to plenty of healthy training weeks in the future.