Friday, March 15, 2013

Boston training is really hard. Here's how you make it harder.

I started my last blog my comparing injuries to alligators in a pit, saying they were getting dangerously close to me on the tight rope above.  So, what happened next should come as no surprise.  The way I see it, I made it ¾ of the way across the tightrope before one of those alligators nipped my hamstring right near my butt.  It’s a potential show-stopper as far as injuries go.  I’ve already called off this weekend’s New York City Half, but I am determined to not let this ruin my Boston plans.

Like most runners, when something hurts, I Google it.  Then, I diagnose it.  I usually choose the worst possible affliction (fracture, tear, Ebola virus…) and am pleasantly surprised when someone with a medical background tells me I am wrong.  My hamstring started to hurt the evening after a particularly slippery 11 mile run in the snow. I knew on the run that continuing in the conditions was a bad idea, but my Upstate New York snow snobbery kept me going.   I survived an intense workout the next day, a 23 mile long run the day after that and two easy runs all with minimal pain.  But a fartlek run on Wednesday afternoon threw up some red flags.  The pain intensified during the intervals and as I cooled down, I could tell my gait was severely flawed, not fluid and potentially setting me up for other injuries.  Commence Googling and based on the evidence, I had with one run, developed hamstring tendonitis.
Stretching my hamstring during a "weekend" get away with Lauren in Beacon, NY

Two days later, an orthopedist said something to me that no doctor has ever said to me before: “Your diagnosis is correct.”  Under his advice, and the advice of a physical therapist, I am taking three days off to cross train and that means no New York City Half Marathon.  Taking the race off my schedule was a particularly painful, albeit necessary (not to mention costly) decision. I’ve sort of held that race on a pedestal since running it last year, using my 1:11:19 finishing time as proof that I can hang in the almost-front of the pack.  I was looking forward to doing it again, but it is not the goal race, and running it all-out this close to the hamstring injury could be catastrophic and season-ending.  Three people, all with more medical training than my search-engine savvy self told me in no uncertain terms should I attempt to race this weekend.  I was dumb enough to run in the snow.  I am not so dumb that I’ll ignore their advice.

Right now, I’m logging long sessions on the elliptical;  90 minutes in the morning, 30 in the afternoon.  Thank God for all the episodes of “Dowton Abbey” I have to catch up on.  I’m doing corrective exercises 2-3 times a day, sitting on a lacrosse or golf ball at work and icing when I can.  I’m also, against my usual practice, taking NSAIDs to control the inflammation. I usually let nature heal, but the bad news is, that this injury is probably not going correct itself in the four weeks between now and Boston; not without me totally shutting it down which would, of course, mean no Boston.  So I have to manage it.  Speed work will be a challenge as will hills.  The good news is, with aggressive treatment, I can likely run through it after this brief lay-off.  The key is focusing on form and not letting this injury alter my stride.  If I can lay down a solid week of running next week, I’ll attempt a marathon-pace run at the NYC 13.1 in Queens next weekend, perhaps try to hammer out a few more interval sessions, and then taper for the race.  My fingers are crossed.  The already tough road to Hopkinton just got a little bumpier, but not impossible to overcome.  

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