I've been there before. My left Achilles started acting up about 2 years ago and I followed the same recovery procedure, namely 5 easy miles every day. I was terrified I might rupture the tendon completely with each step but gradually grew in confidence and could tell early on that thing were improving - in fact, I am absolutely convinced that 40 minutes of running daily was a major part of the healing process, which is why I am following the same procedure once more.
Friday's run went as well as I could hope for. I could feel the hamstring with every tentative step, but it never actually hurt and I made it back home without bother. I was a bit more confident on Saturday but followed the exact same routine. I could feel improvements already but was not entirely sure if that wasn't merely wishful thinking. I was tempted to run longer but managed to contain myself.
Sunday morning, same 5 miles run once more. By now I can definitely tell that things are improving fairly rapidly. The hamstring feels a bit stiff, but that's all. I am highly tempted to run faster and longer but just about manage not to do that. I am not worried about losing fitness - it's the running itself that I am missing, 5 miles are just about enough to keep me from going loopy, but it's not satisfying.
Apart from those runs, I have done a few more things. I have read that worn out shoes can be a factor in hamstring injuries and have therefore thrown out my 2 oldest pairs of shoes, both of whom had about 1000 miles on them. The lightweight shoes I'm favouring never provide much cushioning in the first place, so there isn't much to lose as they get worn down and I tend to keep them for a long time. Nevertheless, off into the bin they both went.
I am icing the area a few times a day. I am not sure if it helps, but plenty of people swear by it and at the very least it doesn't do any harm, so I might as well do it.
I have been wearing compression gear when I was running. At the very least, it feels comfortable. It may or may not help, but I think it may provide a little bit of help.
What I'm not doing:
- no pain killers. First of all, if anything hurts I prefer to know about it. Secondly, inflammation is part of the natural healing process and anyone taking tablets in order to suppress inflammation is achieving the opposite effect of the desired one.
- no stretching. I never stretch anyway. When I did stretch my leg on the road on Thursday it was a pure act of desperation because I could not think of anything else to do. It didn't help, which was to be expected.
There's one more thing that may or may not have contributed to the problem. After feeling the hamstring a couple of times in recent week, last week I started to use The Stick on the area. I don't use it very often, but on the few occasions I have used it, the results have generally been good. It seems to work pretty well on the calf muscles. However, this time round I did not notice anything on the hamstring while I was using the stick, but I now can't help but wonder if it's a coincidence that my hamstring popped just a couple of days after I has started to work on it. Maybe if I had left it alone ...
Anyway, I'm pretty sure I am recovering very quickly. If I want to classify this as an injury of not depends very much on the definition of injury, not that it actually matters.
There was one side effect of the whole drama, namely that it solved my dilemma if I should run in the cross country race in Killarney today. The last couple of times I ran cross country a) it sucked and b) I sucked big time, so truth to be told I am not exactly devastated about missing out this time round.
I'm confident that my pacing gig in Dublin can go ahead as planned. I'm also looking forward to running with The Legend himself on Tuesday, something I have been keen on for ages.
- 3 Oct
- 5+ miles, 41:16, 8:10 pace, HR 134
- 4 Oct
- 5 miles, 40:22, 8:04 pace, HR 138
- 5 Oct
- 5 miles, 40:12, 8:02 pace, HR 139