A short run, an injury, and a very bad mood

All runners get injuries. So they say. I think “injury” is a strange word for it. Injury is falling over and scraping your knee or breaking a bone. Injury is sharp and sudden with longer repercussions. That’s what the word suggests to me anyway. Injury isn’t a nagging, dull ache that starts out of nowhere, that leaves you limping for weeks on end with no discernible reason. The only word for something like that is shit.

And that is what I have had for the past THREE WEEKS. It started after my wonderful run in Santiago de Compostela. I felt no pain on the run (other than the general agony of running up lots of steep hills on a slight hangover!), I didn’t feel as if I was pushing myself too fast or going too far. I stretched out my hip flexors afterwards, and for the first few days of my “injury” felt like perhaps I had just stretched a hip flexor too far. It started in my left inner thigh, then moved to the outside, now it is a sharp pain in my left bum-cheek (okay, glute) that occasionally travels down to my knee. THREE WEEKS.

I don’t really feel it swimming. It wears off cycling. I am slightly limping every time I walk. The problem about living in Madrid, which up until now has been a fantastic thing, is that I do a lot of walking. I walk about 40 minutes every day just to work and back, and often add on other walking to get to various places. I cover over 15km almost every day of the weekends, just walking. It’s great but I suppose it hasn’t been resting my leg at all.

On Friday morning I tried running. A short 5.5km loop, a beautiful morning run from my flat and around the Retiro Park. One of the first runs I did when I moved to Madrid and my breath still came out in smoke first thing in the morning. The first run I did after my marathon, when I stopped half way to pop into Zara, and stood to enjoy a jazz band in the park, all the time with a huge, ginormous smile on my face.

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It hurt. I ran a little, and I power-walked a lot. There was a shooting pain in my bum and I was just fed up. I long for runs where the only pain is in your feet and all the way up your legs from pounding the pavements for over two hours. I don’t care about speed – I want to go slow! I want to be able to put a podcast on, and head out into the countryside, and just run really slowly for two hours or so, stopping to take photos and just enjoying myself. I hate not being able to do it. I hate knowing that I shouldn’t. If you can’t walk without limping, you probably shouldn’t be running!

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It was a beautiful run. But it was also a horrible run.

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That’s a forced smile….!

I am also scared. I have to run a half marathon, after cycling 90km, in just one months time. On this training cycle the longest I’ve run is 9 miles. I am sure it will be okay, if I finish the cycle in time sheer bloodymindedness will hopefully get me to the finish. But I am still scared. I am also so annoyed at myself. I felt nice and smug after my triathlon in June – I had trained for the whole event without EVER having any pain beyond general tiredness. What was I doing differently? More strength and conditioning. More hip strengthening exercises. More core work. Now it is too late and only myself to blame.

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I left work at 3pm on Friday with a cycle planned. I caught the bus home as my leg hurt too much, had some lunch, then threw all the toys out of the pram. Instead of going cycling I got into bed and stayed there for most of the afternoon, with a frown on my face and in my mind. This weekend was meant to be my last “big weekend” of training in Madrid and I was so looking forward to it. Now the order of the day seems to be rest. No long run for me.

Instead I went out with a friend, chatted until 2am in the morning and drank enough wine that I was more than happy to stay in bed in the morning and sunbathe in the afternoon! It was a lovely evening which cheered me up a bit….. now I just need my leg to get better so I can run again.

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14 comments

    • I think hamstring, yep, but I think more running related than cycling as i haven’t been increasing my cycling mileage. I have one leg shorter than the other so muscle imbalances and get reoccurring pain down my left leg if I’m not careful… And I guess I haven’t been careful recently! I haven’t had my saddle measured for my sit bones – what impact does that have? Will take a look at that once I’m back in the UK so thank you!

      • I had some huge hamstring problems because my saddle was too wide for my site bones… mine are 140 mm apart and I had a 153 mm saddle. I had just upped the weekly cycling miles but I thought it was running related. Sure enough, once I switched saddles, all was well and my hammy healed up.

        The only reason I asked is that I know you ride and it was really tough figuring that it was my saddle.

      • Oh that is really interesting – thank you! I would absolutely never have figured that out by myself and interesting that you thought it was running related at the time. Interestingly, the week the pain started was after a weekend on a hired mountain bike with a very wide saddle – I was on the bike for more hours than I’m used to as well as it was mountain biking and I was going verrrrrry slowly. I wonder if that is in fact what set it off! I will do some measuring of my bike back home – thank you so much!

      • Yep, that’s the perfect recipe right there. I ran through mine and after a few weeks started feeling much better, but I wasn’t doing any of the walking. You may need to dial something back to let yourself heal. Good luck.

  1. Have you seen a sports physio?? I’d say it’s worth the investment, with a month to go your best bet is to find out exactly what is causing it and rehab it directly. That way hopefully it will improve, get you through the triathlon and not cause you an ongoing problem. Good luck!

    • I hadn’t this time – I saw one for a bit last year but he really just gave me exercises to do, and I’m already doing them now! Also because I’m in Madrid currently and just thought it was too difficult. However after your comment I have done some googling to try to find an English speaking physio so thank you for the advice! And I intend to get a proper sports massage as soon as I’m back in the UK!

  2. I know what you mean about those creeping (often overuse) injuries that really don’t deserve full-on ‘injury’ status and are therefore so much more annoying than the catastrophic stress fracture etc. issues. However, in reality the latter type are usually so serious and signs of severe damage. Tendon and muscle-related problems do tend to hang around for no good reason though, and so I do understand how frustrating the whole thing is. It sounds like either a hamstring, psoas or IT band issue to me, but the mobility of the pain also suggests something related to sciatica…if you can see a physio at all I think it would be the best course of action.

    Thinking of you and I really hope this clears up soon!

  3. Really glad you decided not to run when injured. I pushed myself too far too quickly after a half marathon and ended up pulling something in my hip, the pain was transferred to my knees and it was only when I started seeing a physio things improved. Just started to run again now and it feels great.

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