I’ve been doing yoga.
Runners only do yoga for one reason: they have no choice.
Here’s the deal: for almost four years I’ve been dealing with a hamstring injury. I think of it as a running injury, because it hurts when I run, but it’s really not a running injury at all; it happened while I was in a triathlon.
Since I started running almost 15 years ago I’ve been plagued by injuries. I did my first sprint triathlon in 2006, and after the training I felt strong and was totally injury free. A month after the race I ran an 8k PR and started training for my first half marathon.
In 2008 I competed in my second triathlon. My training for the two races was similar except I didn’t do as much weight training.
The race started fine, I completed the swim, then I hopped on my bike. Somehow, somewhere during the bike portion I hurt my hamstring. I never felt a pull or tear or pop, but the moment I got off my bike and started running I could tell something was wrong.
The bike-run transition is always hard because your legs are so tired, but you don’t realize how tired until you start running. It usually takes a while for my legs to shake off the bike and settle into the run under normal circumstances. Keeping this in mind, I ran conservatively and waited for my hamstring to loosen up, but it never did. This is me with about a half mile to go. I was worried, and couldn’t wait to finish.
Tom ran up to me (you can see him behind me in this photo) and tried to encourage me to sprint through the finish (kind of like he did in the 10k) and I just remember feeling like crying and saying, “I can’t. I’m hurt.”
My arm is raised because I’m cheering myself on. I spotted the camera and started smiling and cheering. In my years of racing I’ve learned that happy looks better than concentration. Anytime I’ve tried to make a hardcore face I look constipated.
So now whenever I see a camera, I pump my fist. Even when my hamstring is shriveling.
After the race I stretched and got my first ever post-race massage.
But it didn’t help.
A week later, Tom took me hiking at Old Rag. It’s a steep hike and my hamstring was screaming the whole time. Tom was hiking with urgency I’d never seen before, as if the bottom of the mountain was on fire and we needed to get to safety at the top already. But then at the summit he asked me to marry him.
And suddenly all that urgency wasn’t annoying after all.
I had been training to run a half-marathon a few weeks after the tri. I scaled back my training and when that didn’t work, I canceled the half and instead hobbled through an 8k with my fiance by my side.
Instead of going away, the pain started spreading to my hip and hip flexor. I took a few weeks off, which didn’t help either, so I decided to go to physical therapy. I had 12 weeks of PT, and felt mostly better. But all that was mixed in with engagement and marriage, which isn’t really the best time to be focused on icing and stretching and weird PT exercises.
Post-PT I’ve been able to run, but with pain. I haven’t really trained hard or pushed myself because it always hurts during the run or after (mysteriously, cycling doesn’t hurt, but I still blame the bike for the injury). The pain feels a little like my hamstring is just a little short, so when I extend my leg I feel an uncomfortable overextension. I’ve done several races, even another triathlon, but I haven’t come close to any of my PRs.
When I got pregnant all my running goals changed. I was running to stay fit for a healthy pregnancy and baby, and speed was no longer part of my workout. I kind of hoped my hamstring would just heal itself during the 40-week slow down, followed by 6 weeks off and then a gradual return to running.
For a while it seemed to be working, but in the past few weeks the pain has returned. After pushing myself on the treadmill, my hamstring feels tight and stiff. At the lake a few days ago I did the “firefighter’s jump” (A scissor kick as you enter the water so your head doesn’t go under. It might have other names, but my dad was a firefighter so we call it the “firefighter’s jump.”) and pain shot through my leg….and my head went under. Firefighter’s jump fail.
So I’m doing yoga.
I hate yoga. I like running. Yoga is boring. The breathing makes me flustered, and it’s hard to roll my eyes at the mind-body-spirit stuff while also twisting my leg over my head.
But my leg is killing me, and a friend let me borrow her yoga video (this one). So, like I said, I have no choice.
And, you know what? It’s not too bad. Actually, I kind of like it. This video is a really good one. It’s an hour long, but it’s no biggie if you can’t finish because you have to go pull your kid’s hands out of the toilet. David likes it, too. Whenever I’m on the ground he crawls on top of me and claps his hands like the King of the Mountain cheering me on.
Hopefully the warrior poses and sun salutes will help increase flexibility, build strength, and maybe? Maybe even ease my hamstring pain?
But I didn’t do yoga yesterday, because (for the first time in my life) I made tofu for dinner. And yoga and tofu all in the same day just seemed like overkill. AmIright?