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?