Slight Injury

Is a running injury still considered a running injury if you’re able to run?  Based on how my left hamstring felt last night, I would say yes.

Feb. 15th I did a workout that included some .1 mile sprints that finished on an uphill.  It was my second attempt to include some speed work into my routine over the winter.  While running the cool down my left hamstring felt a bit odd as well as my knee.  I chalked it up to using my muscles in a different way and my running buddy, Todd, agreed and said he often experienced similar “pains” post speed work.  My next few runs seemed fine, so I thought nothing more of it.

The past month or so I’ve felt odd twinges in the same spot.  Sometimes while running, sometimes during other workouts, sometimes while sitting.  I started to question if jumping right into a workout after sitting 8 hours a day for work was the smartest decision, but often it’s been the only way to get a workout completed before track practice.  I’ve tried to get back into one yoga or mobility workout a week in hopes of loosening everything up.

Yesterday Jason and I ran 6 miles on the northern part of the York Rail trail.  Actually I probably ran 6.25-6.5 miles thanks to his wearing the Garmin, running ahead of me, and playing music so that he wasn’t able to hear me call out “Where’s the turn around?” when he passed me on his way back.  Afraid to cut it short, I ended up going out the trail farther only to find out on my return and talking to Jason that I had gone beyond the 3 mile turn around spot.

I had a headache during parts of the run, a so-so stomach during others, but don’t recall my hamstring ever feeling out of sorts.  By evening that had changed.  A deep, dull aching pain kept persisting and causing me to change sitting positions frequently.  I tried sitting sideways and putting a pillow between my legs to no avail.  Sitting with my legs straight out in front of me (we have a chaise at the end of the couch) proved to be the most painful.  I iced the spot for 20 mins, but it was no help as the pain seemed to be too deep in the muscle.

Like any good self diagnosing runner I turned to Google.  The area of pain seemed rather high up in my hamstring, but articles regarding “high hamstring injuries” implied I wouldn’t be running pain free if I had that issue.  I finally settled on “hamstring strain grade 1” as this described the pain I was feeling, but implied full strength of the muscle was still intact.  It appeared overstretching was likely the cause of my discomfort.

With a diagnosis now confirmed by Google I have the fun of figuring out how I want to handle it.  I could continue as I have been, with somewhat regular workouts and sporadic running (if I pull 8-10 mile weeks lately I’m doing good) and see if it just gradually heals.  The fact that it seems to have gotten worse since Feb. implies this isn’t my best option despite never feeling pain while I run.

Instead I think after racing the Turkey Hill 10k on Saturday I’ll take 2 full weeks off from running or any lower body focused workout besides walking.  I really don’t like doing that as I already feel my speed/strength are suffering with limited training this track season, but it’s better than the alternative of a worsening hamstring strain.  I’ve already ruled out running either the half marathon or half a half at the Dumb Dutchman (Jason is already bored of training and likely won’t run much, if at all, after Turkey Hill) as I have no mileage base for the half marathon and limited speed for the half a half.

Injury is one of the most frustrating parts of being a runner, and I think more so when the injury isn’t a “true injury” in that it’s not preventing running.  I know it’s my body’s way of saying something is wrong though, and better to listen to it now than suffer worse consequences later.

Have you ever experienced a hamstring strain?  Do you let a mild injury persist and keep running until it worsens or do you always take a break until it’s healed?

About Tracy

Runner. Writer. Reader. Environmental and Indigenous Peoples advocate. Work from home Workforce Specialist. NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Assistant Varsity Track Coach. Fascinated by the ocean, waterfalls and Christmas lights.
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31 Responses to Slight Injury

  1. Glad you are still able to run while you are figuring out the injury. My hamstrings are always tight and on the verge of hurt, LOL, same with calves and something going on my with right foot. But, I keep running. Last year I backed off a lot for a calf strain, but I still hobbled through a few miles, no speed work. Like you, I might look something up on Google and self-diagnose. And since I work at a hospital, I’ll snag my physical therapy friends and ask advice. I’m an advocate now for KT tape for muscle recovery. In the past, I’ve had good results from glucosamine condroitin for connective tissue/joint pain. I’ll also massage, but I’ll admit I’m not consistent.

    Hope you enjoy the 10K!

    • TracyNicole says:

      Having tight hamstrings is so tough because it’s hard for me to figure out how much to stretch to try to improve their flexibility but not overstretch since I think that’s what caused this minor injury. It makes me hesitant to try any speed work in the future, but I really want to focus on dropping my 5k time this summer. I may have to look into KT tape, I’ve heard some good things about it. Thanks, I’ll be sure to post how it goes!

  2. 40andfeelinit says:

    Uhg, sorry you are hurting. I had an injury in the past that I just kept running on and then finally I couldn’t run anymore. Literally physically could not run. So now I am uber careful and take care of any sort of thing that pops up, ever. I also religiously do a stretch routine before and after every single run now. It keeps most my body the most happy. Good luck on healing fast!

    • TracyNicole says:

      I had been cautiously running – no speed work or craziness on hills lately, but I know I’m going to need to heal so that I can get back to training the way I want to. That’s great you have a set routine that you follow so well. I’m good about my warmup (if I don’t do it I get knee pain from hip tightness) and usually stretch after a run but I’m not as consistent with my foam rolling post-run as I need to be. Thanks!

  3. I had something like this once. My massage therapist took care of it in a few sessions. I’m a huge believer in a good massage therapist. If I recall, she dug her elbow in to get really deep in the muscle. As you can imagine, it hurt like crazy but it did work.

    • TracyNicole says:

      Hmm, I’ve actually been hesitant to go too hardcore on massaging the spot myself with a foam roller or tennis ball out of fear of making it worse. I didn’t know if it would like stretch/strain it more? I do see my massage therapist next month so I could bring it up to see her and see what she thinks. I used to go every other month because my work gives us $500 a year to use towards massages, but the cost of the massages went up last summer so now I can only really go every 3 months.

  4. I agree that I wouldn’t work too hard on it myself because you can over-do it. Too bad you have to wait a month but hopefully she can get it worked out.

    • TracyNicole says:

      Yea I feel like if the speed work didn’t cause an acute issue in Feb. then I probably did it myself overstretching with mobility/yoga workouts. It’s hard to know how much to push tight muscles like that when you’re trying to improve flexibility. I mean I never push to the point of pain, but I guess I still could’ve aggravated something. I hope so, glad to hear it worked for you!

  5. runeatralph says:

    Sounds like you have a solid plan. I hope it heals quickly and gets back to normal.

  6. Laurie says:

    Tracy, take care of that hamstring. It sounds a lot like my injury and that stuck around making me miserable for almost 2 years! I found the best exercises were to stretch my hamstring with a belt (or band) while lying on my back and then cross the leg across my body to stretch my glute. Massages helped too, along with having hubby kneel (but not with all his weight) on the affected area. Good luck!

    • TracyNicole says:

      I managed to get my massage appointment changed to next Wed. so I plan to talk to her about it and see if she feels anything unusual. After the race tomorrow I aim to spend at least 2 weeks not running and focusing on rehab work, stretching, foam rolling, etc. and see if I can get it back to normal. It’s so weird how I’ll just mildly feel it now and again and not usually when running.

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