When you get injured, especially one that puts you out long enough where you need to start over like you’ve never run a day in your life — it sucks. Fortunately for me, I’ve gotten pretty good at it (being injured). First off, I’ve finally gotten the chance to be a spectator and cheer on some awesome girls. Secondly, it’s a chance to develop good habits. Really good habits.
Since I can’t just go out and simply run yet, I have a long list of pre-hab exercises to get me to running (more to follow in an upcoming post on these exercises — it’s only fair I share some of the things I’ve learned, particularly when I finally learn a few of the “professional athletes” by name [that I most definitely can’t speak of, but uhh, ohmygod], that he’s worked with… trust me when I say, he knows his stuff). More than half of these exercises are things I should be doing prior to every single run and even integrated into my rest days to keep my muscles loose, and increase flexibility. Then there’s the recovery portion which I’ve never been great at, but it’s key to getting me back.
Last Saturday, I did my first “Back to Running” workout. I started with a half mile walk around the track, followed by various stretches to warm-up my hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, the whole nine yards. Then I kicked off the shoes and began barefoot drills that I’ve learned over the entirety of physical therapy and a few from the running clinic a couple of weeks back. It was even more freeing that I remember from that class! I always hated being barefoot in the grass, fearing prickly weeds and bees, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of running. It was probably the longest warm-up I’ve ever done before actually running in my life and that’s how I plan to keep it.
The run was simple. I started with 100m run, 100m walk, increased to 150m/150m, and finally 200m/200m. I ran maybe half a mile and walked a mile and half when everything was said and done. To close out, I did a few plyometric drills (drop squats, single leg hops). I iced when I got home for precaution since I was a tiny bit sore, but within a couple hours I felt absolutely no pain. Come Sunday, I felt no pain either.
While my warm-up was great, I didn’t stretch like I should have at the end of my workout. My hamstrings and hip flexors have been a trouble spot since I started therapy last July and are an area I really need to focus on. As I increase mileage over the next few months and stress increases on the tissue, I don’t want to fall back into any bad habits I used to have.
Wednesday night, I returned to the track hoping for the same outcome or better. I began the same warm-up again with the half mile walk and actually included a couple minutes of barefoot running on the grass after the drills. My run began with a quarter mile of walking, followed by 200m of running. I stopped after reaching half mile of running and finished up with another half mile of walking. I didn’t include any plyometric drills because twice in one week seemed to be a little excessive when I’m just starting back up. This time I had absolutely no soreness and I didn’t end up icing, but still felt fine. Unfortunately, I didn’t stretch again and I paid for it with a lot of soreness and tightness in my legs on Thursday.
Cue going into therapy and getting yelled at for not stretching (rightfully so). Cue going into therapy and being discharged finally, after 11 months. I think this is easily the best birthday present I could have received (but those Luke Bryan tickets from J are pretty much tied for the lead!)
It’s bittersweet to say I’m done, but I never want to see another physical therapist because I’m injured again!