Hindsight

As I look back and reflect on my last year of not running, and as I think about the emotions that I went through and the steps that I took to repair and heal my hamstring, I hope that my experiences will help another who might be dealing with the same kind of injury.

First and foremost, you know your body better than anyone else.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Looking back, I realize that I missed the warning signs.  Now, I know that the most prominent signal that something was brewing was the pain that went through my butt every time I sat down.  The ischial tuberosity hides under the glutes so, when you sit, the glutes move and you are on your sit bones, or the ischial tuberosities.  I always attributed the discomfort that I had while sitting to not having a lot of fat.  Similarly, I attributed any tightness or discomfort that I may have had through my hamstrings and butt to finishing a tough run (or race) or to a higher mileage week.  Not once did I imagine that my right hamstring was gradually fraying, which resulted in a 50% tear.

Secondly, stay positive.  In the past 10 months, I have worked with my family doctor, 2 sports medical doctors, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a chiropractor and a few physiotherapists.  For the most part, my visits with each of them were positive but there were times when I left feeling down.   Some days, anything from a doctor’s silence to a comment such as “That’s unfortunate” or “I hope this will help you” would scare me or send me into tears and leave me wondering “Will I ever be able to run again?”  I had to believe that I would heal and that any fitness lost would be regained.

And so I followed my gut.  While I knew that my tuberosity would heal, it took months to find the right treatment, primarily because I had to wait almost 4 months for the correct diagnosis. It was my GP, not my sports med doctor, who booked an MRI for me, and that had a 3 month wait.  I had just started to run a week before my appointment and thought about cancelling it, but something still seemed off; my gait just didn’t feel right.   My son convinced me to follow through with the MRI as it would give me more information about my injury.  He was right.  The hamstring tear turned out to be deeper than we originally thought.  It was the MRI that led to one sports medical doctor’s referral to another who specializes in hips and to a different physiotherapist, one who targeted strengthening the glutes and hamstrings, followed by another who realigned my pelvis.  And when the physiotherapists gave me exercises to do, I did them no matter how boring they were or spastic I felt.

During my healing and recovery, I focused on what I could do, not on what I couldn’t.  I spent hours each week on my windtrainer so that I could hold onto my cardio; within a 10 month period, I had ridden more than 3000 miles. I worked on my core and upper body  while strengthening my hamstrings and glutes by heading to the yoga studio 3-4 times a week (sometimes more).  I started swimming again and, by June, I was pool running to start rebuilding the same muscles that I use when I run outside.  I set goals that were achievable and I met them almost every single week.

Separating the platelets in the centrifuge.

But it still wasn’t enough. I had done everything that the doctors and physiotherapists had suggested but my right leg just didn’t feel strong whenever I tried to run.  So I followed my gut again and went back to the hip specialist, who proceeded with platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy  at the end of June. Ultimately, it was the PRP injection that had the greatest impact on my healing.   The doctor had cleared me to run only 3 weeks after the injection, not after the usual 8 week period, and, for the first time in almost a year, my legs felt strong again.

Back to Chasing My Dreams

In the past year, the most valuable lesson that I have learned is to listen.   I learned how important it is to pay attention to my body, to what feels right and what doesn’t.   I listened to my professionals and followed through with their advice. If my gut told me that things still weren’t right, I went back again and again until I  found the right form of therapy.   I never gave up.  Yes, I got frustrated and, yes, sometimes I cried, but I also believed that I would eventually heal and get back to chasing my dreams.

 

 

 

 

Oh, What a Feeling!

After finally being able to run consistently, every other day, for the past 3 weeks, I have a renewed energy.   I can’t get too excited since running still hurts, but it isn’t the “Ow, I am broken” kind of hurt that I had all fall; nor is it the “I’m so out of shape” feeling that we often get when we have been off for a while.  It’s a stiffness, a type of knot, a sensation that I really can’t describe.   I like to think of it as a “healing pain” to remind me of Tammy and Izzy, my unruly tenants who moved in during the summer and fall, and of all the work that I have been doing to evict them.  It’s a message to not push myself just yet – to be careful.

At my chiropractic visit on Saturday, Sandy asked how my legs and hips were feeling.  “It’s just my glutes,” I told him, “and the very top of the back of my thigh.  I feel like I have gone for circle.”  In July,  I went for a massage because those were the two areas that were bugging me, but that treatment led to a chain reaction of a tightness, pain and tears.  “That’s it?” he replied.  “That’s good.”   “Well, my quads were killing me earlier in the week, but that’s because I am an idiot.”

You see, I am running but it isn’t enough – in terms of distance or intensity.  I need more of both. While I love that I am back on the road and running, I don’t feel like I am getting much out of that time healthwise, so I am keeping up with the lunges, bridges, planks, cycling (windtrainer) and yoga that I have committed through the fall.   Somehow, through my determination to get stronger and a touch of bad planning, I somehow managed to do everything within 24 hours.

On Monday night, I hit yoga class (warmed up with my bridge routine) at 6:00 and rode on my windtrainer after that.  Tuesday morning, I did my 360 lunges at school, ran 5K after school and had a chiropractic treatment at 6:00, 24 hours after my Monday night yoga class.  Then, to top it off, I rode for an hour before going to bed because it seemed like a good idea at the time.   When I woke up the next morning, my legs were sore!  But it was a good kind of sore, the kind you get when your muscles have been pushed and are tired, the kind of sore that feels better as you move around through the day, the kind of sore that feels great!

I haven’t had that feeling in months.   Sandy laughed after he heard my insane description, especially with the treatment details in the middle.  “You are obviously doing everything you can to get stronger and that’s okay.  It’s okay to feel sore.  Just overdo it.”

I don’t think there is a chance that I could ever repeat that Monday/Tuesday- at least, not in the near future.  But the satisfaction of thinking about what I did makes me smile.  It’s made me realize how far I have come in my overall fitness in the past 7 months and it gives me hope for chasing dreams and crushing previous times.   It makes me feel great!  So I won’t say “never again.”  We’ll see how long it takes me to lose my mind again.