Injury. Setback or Opportunity?

It never comes at a good time, sometimes caused by over training, not listening to our bodies, a fall, overlooking the importance of rest (I think of rest days as ‘building’ or ‘growth’ days), repetitive stress, lack of cross training, unrealistic training goals for your level of fitness/ experience, the list is endless. Even when we believe we have the right formula our bodies can still disagree and tell us otherwise.

I have been running for over 30 years with only a few niggles here and there. I always said I would run until by body ‘gives up’. Well this time it’s made me STOP. I ignored a few hamstring niggles back in 2017 when training for the Rome marathon, had it taped, ran well and achieved my sub 3.30 goal. I recovered, went back to light training before picking it up again for the London Marathon. My mind loves the challenge of longer distance running, pushing the pace mile after mile but my body is starting to shout back and isn’t happy with me right now. It’s time to listen.

Surprisingly, I completed London without any niggles. I thought I’d made a lucky escape but knew I was running on borrowed time. Next up was my 100k ultra, the final challenge of the year. My hamstrings were tight and painful on every stride. I’m not one to take pills but I was popping them on race day. I don’t even know if it made any difference. If this had been a client I would have advised against racing, but it would seem I have different rules for myself. Anyway, I placed 8th and loved the journey, until 85k at least! I knew that was me done for a while. It was time to rest, strengthen and identify the route cause of the pain.

Without a formal diagnosis from medical professional it leaves you feeling helpless. You don’t know what your working with or how to help yourself heal. I turned to google. Looking up my symptoms until I could self-diagnose. Not often a wise move but the more I read, the more I believed I needed an MRI scan. I had to fight my corner as I went through the NHS but glad I did. The relief when I had a confirmed diagnosis was huge (Insertional hamstring tendinopathy and bilateral bursitis). I could finally move forward and was positive about rehab. Five months off running has been extremely hard mentally, the daily frustrations are real, and I’ve had to distance myself from other runners which has been isolating at times. However, change your mindset and injury becomes easier to accept and deal with. I constantly remind myself to focus on the positives and look at what I CAN do. Injury makes you slow down, take stock, look for other opportunities and can often re-balance the scales. Yes, it is a setback, but it can make life more interesting if you allow yourself to explore other hobbies or types of exercise. Plus you get your lie ins back so it’s not all bad!

Remember, if you have a niggle your body is trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore it, see a medical professional and nip it in the bud before your body throws a full blown wobbly! Be smart.