This was not how it was suppose to go. I was suppose to recover from Ice Age and come back putting in my best training block of the year. I was supposed to be healthy & fit, toeing the line with the best 100 mile field in North America on June 28th in Squaw. It was not suppose to be the time for my plantar fasciitis that I have been dealing with for more than 6 months to flair up, nor was it the ideal time for a manageable hamstring issue to move to a debilitating hamstring injury. Yet that is where I find myself currently.
Stupidity is commonly defined as doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. The last few weeks I have been training stupidly; 2 days off, 1 run that hurts, 2 days off, another run that hurts. I was expecting my body to heal itself without providing a novel stimulus to allow that to happen. That’s not how physiology works, and I should know better. After doing some self-diagnosing (always dangerous) combined with an some Active Release Therapy appointment (30 minutes and $185 later) I have an understanding of the problem. It could be general tightness (manageable) or it could be an upper hamstring tendinopathy (6-12 weeks for recovery).
Regardless of the cause, the treatment is similar. There is a certain amount of relief in knowing what actions are necessary to remedy the problem. It starts with diligent attention to my plantar issue, followed by eccentric strengthening of the hamstrings, combined with a bit of core work thrown in. That is the action plan just to get healthy, but because I am not running I need to take an alternative approach to get fit. Being injured is exhausting.
The only thing that running prevents me from being is cardiovascular fit. Sure that might sound important for a running race, but frankly I am more worried about the strength aspect of 100 miles with 22,000 ft of descent. It doesn’t matter how cardiovascular fit you are if you have to walk because your quads are blown at mile 60. So I expect to do plenty of leg strengthening in the coming weeks. Stairs, weighted backpack, squats, lunges, and any other strength exercise that leave my legs feeling like mush.
Luckily I can still walk and I’m not just being facetious. I decided to test my hamstring on Friday with a strenuous hour power hike that included a couple of 600 ft climbs (in 0.3 miles). Not only did I not feel my hamstring, but also I managed to spike my HR above 150 (~marathon pace) as an added cardiovascular stress (strava). Inspired by the lack of pain I did a double Tam hike on Saturday (strava) and a single Diablo in the heat on Sunday (strava). After nearly 10 hours of hiking I was hurting, but my hamstring felt great. It was solid “time on feet” and probably much needed hiking practice (hello Western States canyons). On Strava the hiking and running icon look the same and people now think I run at 15min/mile pace. Little do they know I am stealing all the hiking CRs on the Bay Area mountains. Jokes on them.
With such a setback I have to dial back my goals for Western States, but that’s not going to stop me from preparing in the best and smartest way I can. Western States is on, whether I’m ready or not. #waitformeinauburn