The hamstring injury that wouldn’t quit

Following the Chilly Half, I made it through one run before my hamstring seized up out of nowhere during an easy run. That injury, which I suspect was some kind of strain, took about two weeks to heal. I got back into a training groove for a week before running Around the Bay 30K (since I was already registered), knowing my legs were feeling heavy and that I probably wouldn’t be in prime condition. I didn’t expect any miracles but hoped to get in a good long run effort at marathon pace or if things didn’t feel great, I’d slow up and just check out the course for future racing opportunities. Fortunately, my hamstring had been feeling 100% all week and had no issues during the race.


I ran beside Josh Bolton for nearly the entire race and having him to work with made the kilometres pass quickly. Thanks for the help out there, Josh!

We started off around 12th place and began picking off guys who were falling off the lead pace. Eventually, we ended up in 7th and 8th positions without being overtaken by anyone behind us.

I was happy to make it through that hard effort without any hint of the hamstring issue, but four days after it struck again during a short marathon-paced tempo. I immediately pulled the plug and began the slow jog home. Last time I tried heat packs, ice packs, massage, and stretching and I think that maybe aggravated the injury a bit. This time I’m resting immediately and trying compression.

I could've sworn it felt like summer a few days ago…

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The timing of this second round of hamstring issues means I probably can’t get anymore quality workouts in before Toledo (3 weeks away) as I expect I’ll have another week or so letting the hamstring heal before just getting back into running regularly as the taper would begin. If I’m going to run Toledo, it will be on whatever fitness I’ll have managed to hang onto since Chilly 4 weeks ago. That’s not how I wanted to head into this race…

I can’t help but look ahead to the Ottawa 10K which is 5 weeks after Toledo. As the Canadian 10K road championship race, I really wanted to run a good one there and see how I stack up against that field. Part of me wonders (and was wondering a few weeks ago when this hamstring issue first came up) if pushing through with my plans to run Toledo will result in two mediocre race results instead of resting now, forgoing Toledo, and possibly running a better race in Ottawa. Hard to know. I’ll have to think on that this week as I nurse this hamstring back to health.

Not quite there yet…

This was supposed to be the post where I describe how—after making the tough call to take an extended, two-week break from running—that the tendon in my ankle was no longer an issue, I had made the right decision in skipping the races I was looking forward to, and I was happy to be back running regularly. Sadly, that is not how things went…

About a week and a half into my rest period, I was feeling great. I had received a favourable evaluation from my physiotherapist and I no longer felt any pain walking down stairs (a positive change). Still, I waited it out and took the full two weeks off and started back extra slowly with a 5 km run. Things felt good enough to run 7 km and then 9 km, after which I took a day to rest and cross-train on a bike. I then came back for an 11 km jog and felt the tendon start to get cranky with only 500m to go. It bothered me for the rest of the day walking so I tried to stay off it as much as possible. 

I then had to decide how to react. Do I try to continue running conservatively to see if it stays manageable with short runs? Do I stop running to avoid making it worse and take an even longer, 4-week break? Do I switch to cross-training for 2-4 weeks seeing as the tendon has never bothered me while biking? I decided after a rest day to try one more short jog and it got bad enough that I turned around early (and it’s still bothering me a day later). That pretty much settled it. 

My plan now is to cross train for four weeks. With any luck, this will keep me mildly in shape so that starting back up in October is easier. Because I need something off in the distance to keep me motivated (especially while cross training), so I’m considering the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH which is April 24, 2016. I like the sound of an April marathon (instead of May) as that timing works out better for lead-up races (Chilly Half is March 6; seven weeks out) and allows for some recovery time in May before the summer races start.

I have to mention briefly the Beijing World Championships which were streaming live on YouTube over the past couple weeks. Taking a break from running was made a lot easier by having a bunch of races to watch. The highlights for me were the Kenyan marathoners completely falling apart in the men’s marathon, Mo Farah cleaning up in the 10,000m and 5000m, and Asbel Kiprop seemingly in a class of his own in the 1500m. Of course, there were some incredible Canadian performances as well (Andre Degrasse, Derek Drouin, Melissa Bishop, and others). Canada gathered a record number of medals (seems I jumped on the athletics bandwagon at the right time ;)!

That’s it for now. Good luck to everyone running a fall marathon over the next few months. I’ll be watching eagerly to see how things play out. Here’s a list of races to watch and the guys who have announced they’re running (still plenty of guys who haven’t said if/where they’re running):

  • Berlin (September 27): Reid Coolsaet. 
  • Chicago (October 11): Rob Watson, Kevin Coffey.
  • Toronto (October 19): Eric Gillis, Matt Loiselle, Sami Jibril, Calum Neff, John Mason.

Week of May 19, 2014

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This week started out great with a strong race at the Watford-Alvinston Optimist 10 mile Road Race but quickly eroded into a week of multiple days off and another annoying injury to battle. I’ve got a week to heal up for the International Bridge Race 10K on June 1.

Monday, 18°C: Watford-Alvinston Optimist 10 mile Road Race. Ran a steady race to finish in 56:51 (5:40/mile) and finished first overall.

Tuesday: Couldn’t find time to run.

Wednesday, 13°C: 9.6 miles w/ 16x400m. Averaged 71-73 seconds intervals with 200m walk + 200m jog recoveries. Somehow the thunderstorms broke long enough for me to get this workout in!

Thursday: Set out for an 8-10 mile run but immediately turned around after a hundred metres or so because my left foot was hurting when I followed through my stride and pushed off. It seems like the cuneiform bone of my big toe is bruised or pinching when I put pressure on the ball of my foot. I was able to get in to see my favourite physiotherapist after she had a last minute cancellation. She tried to loosen the foot up and taped it up but it still hurt enough that I didn’t try an evening run. Instead I did my strength routine. Woke up in the middle of the night feeling like the tape was too tight and had to pull it off.

Friday: I didn’t try running at all. I mostly stretched my foot and massaged it with a lacrosse ball and golf ball. Iced it three times.

Saturday, 16°C: I took my son out in the jogging stroller for 7.3 miles easy. Iced multiple times. The inside of my shins starts to flare up too so I’ve been icing my shins as well.

Sunday, 24°C: 12 miles easy w/ 4 strides. Ran 6 to my cousin’s birthday party and 6 home a few hours later. After each segment, I stood in the lake as an ‘ice bath’. That helped relieve the aching in my shins.

In total, I got in about 40 miles with three days off so although it wasn’t the week I wanted, it went okay on the four days I was able to run.

Next week, I’m hoping things will hold together for 6-7 days of running, including the Bridge Race 10K on Sunday and a couple days of light, easy miles to ‘taper’. The only non-easy running I’m considering is a short threshold run (3×1 mile T pace, 5:45/mile) and maybe some overpass repeats to prep for the huge incline of the bridge.