While I was on my Alaskan cruise in early July, I spent a lot of time in the ship’s gym. Since I could not bike or swim much, I was trying to do more strength training so I would hopefully stay in shape. One day I left the gym and had a new dull pain in my left hip, but didn’t think much of it, that maybe I’d just strained something and it would go away by the next day. The pain didn’t go away but with Nationals just over a month away in August, like most stubborn athletes I just ignored it and would push through the pain to get my training done. It just kept getting worse and worse, and by time Nationals rolled around I had a full blown strained hip flexor that decided to be at its worst during my race, and following the race I could barely walk for 2 days.
Now that I am a month PAST Nationals, I thought surely I would be back to running but at this point I still seem a long way away from getting back to any sort of regular running regimen. I would take a week off, try to run, then instantly flare up the injury again. At some point you’ve just got to stop being stupid (because let’s be real, it’s stupid to train when you’re injured), and realize that you really do have to just STOP! I actually had the “Ah ha” moment when I was watching someone’s “Story” on Instagram (she is a trainer at Orangetheory Fitness) and she was talking about exactly this, saying that she just didn’t understand why people won’t stop training when they’re injured and how dumb she thinks it is. And I immediately thought, “OMG, that’s totally me. I’m an idiot!! Why am I doing this?” It happens to every athlete, we all hate to stop training, and it totally sucks… but rather than keep re-injuring it which could cause more damage or just take even longer to heal, I got smart.
I got a great physical therapist and chiropractor, and I continue actually DO the therapy that I was given at home. Imagine that! And on top of that, I am continuing to go into physical therapy every week. I had tendonitis at the beginning of this year and I was stubborn, only went to PT a couple times, and just really didn’t want to spend the time getting well. So it lingered for months, never quite going away, when I think that if I’d just given it some actual rest and rehab, I probably would’ve had to deal with it for a way shorter amount of time. No matter what your injury may be, as endurance athletes, going forward I MUST make time for these things:
- Stretching = planning this into my workouts in terms of time, and waking up early enough to do so
- Rolling and massaging = especially after a run
- Icing = anything that needs it, especially the current hip flexor pain (I’m now a fan of ice pack in the gym shorts)
- Physical Therapy = find a good one and GO!
- Make a slow come-back = this may be the hardest one, but all of us either know someone or are guilty ourselves of coming back too hard too soon and causing re-injury
If you think have an injury, immediately stop whatever action is causing the pain, figure out what is the root of the problem, and seek help from a qualified professional!! Sometimes it may take a few stops to get it right or find someone that’s knowledgeable for your particular injury (I’ve found that it’s much harder to find qualified sports therapists), but keep looking until you find help that works. When I don’t want to take the time to stretch, roll, and ice I try to remind myself, ” What’s 15 minutes extra in my day if it’s going to keep my injury-free and healthy?” Not a bad price to pay, I’d say!