Yes, you read that correctly. I am almost back on the running horse! It’s been a very frustrating two years. Back in 2013, I began training for my first half marathon and pushed myself to the point that my hamstring gave out. I did not realize the seriousness of the injury, ran through the half, and continued running after that. Before long the pain was so unbearable that even walking was difficult. I began a pattern of taking time off of running in hopes that the injury would heal, followed by getting sidelined because the injury was actually chronic. Two doctors, and two physical therapists later — I’m getting ready to run long distance again.
My injury was difficult for me to understand because the pain would move up and down my right leg. Sometimes my glutes hurt, sometimes I had knee pain, and other times my hamstring felt so tight it would rip. The inconsistency of the pain made it almost impossible for me to understand that I had a chronic injury. That, and it did not completely take me off the trails — I was still able to run, however at about 4-5 miles in, I usually had to stop. At one point, the back of my knee became so swollen that I got concerned enough to see my doctor. She thought I had a Baker Cyst and sent me to physical therapy. After weeks of treatment, nothing was working, so my PT recommended going to an orthopedic, who then recommended an MRI. The MRI revealed that my knee was totally normal, so the orthopedic diagnosed me with hamstring tendonitis. I got paired up with a new PT who is a marathon runner and has done Boston a few times. She immediately knew what exercises I needed to do, and was very understanding of the remorse that comes with not being able to run.
TL;DR: I have a muscle imbalance in my hips, which is throwing my form off while running and contributing to a tight IT band, hamstring tendonitis, and knee pain, etc.
I started working with the new PT in June and it’s almost October, but I will be ready to race in about 1 month! I passed my final PT evaluation 3 weeks ago and have been continuing to do my exercises. She said that:
- I can run again and…
- If I am consistent with my exercises I’ll be able to run 6+ miles with no pain by November.
I’m taking things easy and slow, but it is worth it because every week I get a little better. Starting from the bottom is really rough — it takes some effort for me to go 3 miles and I’m very out of shape, but I’m looking forward to the day that I can get back to my regular long runs.
This may sound stupid to those who have been doing distance running for a long time, but I learned that hard way that distance running requires more than just running mixed with random cross-training. My PT told me that if I want to continue racing at the half marathon or marathon level, I’ll need to keep my hips strong and balanced and will have to supplement my runs with pilates (to strengthen my core), yoga (to keep from getting too tight), and regular band walks.
Here is a list of exercises that I’ve been doing regularly if you are interested:
- Band walks
- Foam rolling (get The Grid foam roller — it really holds up and massages well): IT band, calf
- Deep tennis ball massage: hip, hamstring, glutes
- Side planks
- Hip flexor stretch + hip rotator stretch
- Standing wall calf stretch
- Posterior tibial tendon trigger point massage