As an exercise physiologist I am always interested in evidence-based methods to improve my performance. However, many of the scientific principles that shape our day to day approaches to training are years behind the current thinking or simply wrong due to scientific dogma inertia. But its not the fault of scientists, entirely (I swear!!!). A rigorous controlled exercise study in humans requires a lot of resources. If the National Institutes of Health has the choice of funding a clinical study examining whether a given intervention improves exercise performance or whether an alternative intervention improve outcomes for patients with a severe disease the decision is obvious, and rightly so. Even when there are the resources to do exercise studies its immensely difficult. Noncompliant subjects, inherent inter-subject variability, expensive scientific equipment and small effects on performance (<5%) that are difficult to detect. Ok, rant over. Thats why I’ve decided to conduct my own n=1 experiment on myself based on less than gold standard level of existing evidence.
Oh you thought you would win you silly hamstring injury, you thought you would go ahead stop me in the midst of my best training, racing, and most enjoyable block of running ever. And you did for a good amount of time, but now I’ve figured you out and am ready to rid my life from you.
My hamstring issues had lurked in my mind and in my body for months until the Ice Age Trail 50 miler. After Ice Age I recognized I had a problem, after Bay2Breakers that problem soon was serious. So lets set the scene. I’m having the best year of running. A new half marathon PR, unbelievable 100 mile trail debut, and a 4 min marathon PR at Boston made it easy to ignore the hamstring. I mean all that was required was a few easy miles to warm up and to stay away from running under 5 min pace. Those problems seem trivial when training for marathons and beyond. After Ice Age 50 mile there was no ignoring the pain though. The pain was getting worse, not better, and even worse, I had Western States less than 2 months away.
Well, well, I can’t say I’m surprised. I think this is the 4th blog I’ve started and almost the 4th that I quit. But I’m not quitting, not yet. It’s not like I forgot to blog. I thought about it a lot, but it’s hard to blog about running when you are not doing it. I mean who wants to hear me whining about not running? Even my mom doesn’t want to read that*.
So let’s briefly summarize. Coming off a marathon PR at Boston and a solid 50 miler at IAT I was preparing to run Western States. By the end of May I stopped running because of an upper hamstring injury….until about two weeks ago. Okay that’s the simple story, and being injured is actually a lot more work than not being injured (I know this yet I still choose to neglect relatively easy preventative things). I’ve actually been asked about my hamstring injury by several people and I know several more people that have had a similar infliction, so perhaps what I have to say could be useful…to someone…at sometime. Hopefully it won’t be you. I will write in a little more detail about what worked for me in my next post, but for now….