I am currently taking the longest hiatus from running that I have taken in the last 20 years, with the exception of when I was pregnant with each of my three children. This is a forced break from running, due to my left hamstring which has a strain at the insertion site to the glute. I am on week two of no running. (Well, I did sneak in a small 8km run last Thursday, but was promptly reprimanded by my physiotherapist) How am I even surviving? It is actually astounding that I am doing so well.
- Embrace Cross-training: The timing of my new triathlon bike could not be better. I have been doing so many amazing rides and increasing my cycling mileage. The cycling does not at all aggravate my hamstring, for which I am very thankful. The key is to choose cross-training that does not interfere with the healing of the injury. Find sports that you love and that keep you aerobically fit, without causing any stress to the affected areas. Try swimming and cycling. Triathletes have a great advantage in the cross-training camp.
- Find Effective Treatment from Professionals: There are many interventions that aid in the recovery from injuries. I have had excellent chiropractic care and physiotherapy treatment for my injury. Focus on healing and discovering the original source of the problem. A physiotherapist will look at how you are running or moving in your sport and daily life and discover why this injury occurred in the first place. Only then can the most effective treatment be prescribed and preventative measures taken for the future.
- Do your injury-specific “Homework”: My homework includes hamstring and glute stretches and strengthening exercises, as well as prescribed rest from running. Schedule in time to do the injury specific work that will heal and strengthen the muscles involved. Do this work when you would normally be running and view it as valuable as your regular training routine.
- Enjoy other Activities: Getting out of my regular routine of running certainly shakes up my life. It means I have strange breaks in my day and different energy levels. For a runner to stop running is a shock to the system. Go for walks and hikes in new places and do not think about the training effect for a change; take time to read and pray and do yoga. Become more well-rounded and see what it is like to be a non-runner for a few days.
- Stay Positive: I am focusing on the things I have gained as opposed to what I have lost. My swimming and cycling mileage is dramatically elevated and I am loving the other sports. I am fresh for my rides and the quality is therefore increased in my cycling workouts. A positive mental attitude makes life much more enjoyable and will only be accelerate the healing process.
I am definitely looking forward to running again soon. I do want to ensure that it is pain-free running. I am thinking long-term, so I will not risk a short term run because I am impatient. In the meantime, I have many other pursuits to enjoy!