Sunday, October 05, 2014


I was rather nervous on Friday morning when I took my first step. I could feel the hamstring, but it didn't really hurt. Nevertheless, I was conscious that every step could be my last one for quite some time if something went wrong.

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


  1. Thanks, Thomas. Good advice in there.

  2. heal quickly thomas, hoping to see you in dublin

  3. Awesome news about your hamstring!

  4. Hi Thomas
    Just caught up with your post. Last Monday I listened to William Sichel talk about his recent 3100 mile race in New York (round a 0.8 mile loop!). One of the things William said was that a number of the 14 runners had injuries that normally physios would say to rest but because they had to run 60 miles a day to completed the challenge in 52 days they carried on running and they all recovered. Very interesting! Anyway I hope your hamstring responds to your 5 miles a day and very soon you will be back to your longer faster runs. All the best.

  5. Double negative police : Parsing your not and no's it seems you are taking pain killers and stretching then!

    From a programmer too. Funny how the with the English language you can read stuff and get the right meaning even if strictly it's not actually what was written, but what was originally meant. No only if the software I wrote would also do what I meant and not what I told it do I could get away with 2hr working days :-)

    Great to hear that the hamstring is on the mend. I wonder if keeping the pace down and route easy helps avoid taxing the muscle fibres that you strained, but gives the whole muscle a gentle workout to keep the heal processing moving along nicely.

    My guess is that fibres you strained were probably on the fast twitch spectrum, and only taxed heavily during hard hill sections and fast intervals. Your mention about working on the hamstring prior to injury suggests it was already over stressed, so in the zone of an over use injury.

    From my own experience of foam rolling/trigger point massage can help but I also suspect sometimes it's made things worse. I think working on knotted is OK if it's scar tissue that you needs to break down, but if it's any area of current injury that the body is healing attacking the region with aggressive massage could well push it over the edge and damage it more. I do wonder if this might have happened to me this week...