Another hamstring tendinopathy update

I’ve been away from the blog for a bit… A few things have happened and I’ve just needed some time away from here for a bit. I love my blog but sometimes I need a break rather than share everything.

I’m ready to give some updates now though. I’ve missed writing and I’ve missed my little corner of the Internet.

So, how is my hamstring? Well, it’s still not fixed. This injury is probably one of the worst I’ve had. I mean, I probably think this for all the injuries I’ve had but seriously this one is a real bitch.

Normally what happens with the (bigger) injuries I have is that they stop me running and I get frustrated with not being able to run. I do everything in my power to speed the recovery up… from physios, to ice packs, to strength training.

I then usually start running a little bit too soon, and this then re-aggravates the injury and I’m set back again. Rest is invariably always best. THIS injury however is something else. I’ve rested for seven weeks and it doesn’t feel that much better. There have been times where it’s felt just as bad. And I say “bad”, what I mean is uncomfortble and a bit naggy. Not painful but ever present and THERE.

I’ve been good and stayed well away from running. I’ve read a lot online, took the advice of my physio and been rehabbing as best as I can. However, some weeks one exercise will feel fine (like the lying hamstring curl, for example) and then another week I’ll do that exercise and suddenly it’s aggravated things and it’s like I’m back to square one.

It is so frustrating. But I’m very good in documenting what’s going on so I can see where the patterns are and work out when to push and when to back off.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I only do exercises now that in no shape or form generate the discomfort that I feel when the injury is bad. Previously I read in several sources to push through this discomfort – you need to stress and strengthen the tendon. But actually that hasn’t worked for me. It just makes it worse.

I’m going to share what I’ve found but please remember I’m not qualified in any shape or form in any sort of advice giving capacity. This is just what I’ve found and I want to share in case anyone might grab some glimmer of useful information. The exercises that seem to work without niggling the hamstring at all are:

Hip thrusts – these are by far the best. You can go heavy on the weights or high on the reps and it works the glutes without isolating the hamstrings. This has never caused me any sort of hamstring pain/discomfort.

Glute kickbacks – straight leg, straght back, no bending at all. I stand one foot on a raised platform and gently push back my leg behind me focusing purely on my glutes. Yes the hamstrings do some work but it’s primarily the glute.

Single/double leg bride – this has worked consistently well during the begginning, but it’s less effective now because I’ve grown a lot stronger. Hip thrusts are better now

I avoid at all costs: deadlifts, squats, sled pushes (they started well but then went badly), lying (and seated) hamstring curls… basically anything that isolates my hamstrings.

So yeah. Not a lot really. But I’ve done a couple of tiny runs and though it hasn’t felt amazing, it’s felt better. Different to prevous injuries I’ve had where I wait to start running until it all feels good (after a few too eager false starts), this injury requires a gradual approach. Perhaps even a run-walk strategy.

The high hamstring tendon is VERY sensitive and going out straight away doing 3 miles would be unwise. Normally that’s what I’d do. Anything less than 3 miles I wouldn’t see the point, but I’ve been very much dressed down in the ego department. I will be sensible. I won’t rush this.

Yes I only have 12 weeks until the Chicago Marathon, but if I want to be anywhere near being able to line-up at the start I need to approach this carefully.

I’m trying to ignore the people telling me the 7+ months they’ve dealt with this injury. I’m trying to keep positive. I’m doing my very best not to panic. I just hope my strategy works.

What’s been your worst injury?

Do you read about injuries online? This has been both helpful and unhelpful.

Hamstring Update

Not to dwell too much on the old hamstring situation because I’m trying to stay POSITIVE. But a little update in how it’s going.

So I’ve been strengthening it as much as I can at the gym. I would guess I’m in the phase of the injury where it’s more safe to stress it out a bit in order to strengthen it. I’m doing more functional and, well, “weighty” exercises. These include nordic curls, sled pushing, reverse box jumping, glute kickbacks with more weight and lying hamstring curls.

I attempted a mini run last night. I went out aiming for about 1km… it didn’t feel great I won’t lie. It didn’t feel terrible but it certainly didn’t feel like a particularly comfortable run. It niggled the entire way but stayed consistent in its discomfort rather than getting worse. Walking around afterwards and the next day didn’t feel any different either.

I do wonder whether that length of a run isn’t really much of a good test but I’m being super cautious because of Chicago (14.5 weeks away). I want to try another run soon, but longer. If I’m honest I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing at the moment but at the same time, I’m taking a very measured and gentle approach. Any set-back on my hamstring and I’d immediately stop. My thoughts are that I do need to stress the hamstring out a little in this very functional way in order to get stronger.

When I had this issue after Boston a few years ago (where I believe this is where it all started but has been low level hiding since) I ran quite a lot through the issue. I’m very fastidious with tracking my “training”. I have an Excel sheet that I track all my workouts, gym and running, and will write details about them. It helps me track what I’m doing at the gym (weights, sets, reps) and when I’m injured I can refer back and read about how that run workout, what I was doing to manage things etc. This is obviously super helpful now. Each run I did I would say things like “urgh hamstring niggled throughout” or “deadlifts definitely made my hamstring worse” and I can see how many miles I ran and when it started to get better.

From the looks of it, it took about 11 weeks to heal. 11 weeks. I actually feel sick typing that. What I quickly have to remind myself though is that I’m a lot more “educated” now. Like when the issue first cropped up then I continued doing heavy deadlifts and pushing my hamstring when I should have let it calm down before gentle incorporating very specific hamstring exercises back in (like I am at the moment). I was also super reluctant to stop running (I continued to run for 5 weeks).

So my hope is that THIS time around I’ll be back to comfortable running in less time. I’m currently on week 5 of not running and strength training diligently and sensibly. By dealing with my injury in a very controlled way and having this plan and focus I’m helping myself not fall too much into the Well of Darkness that often plagues injured runners. I have my down moments and I’m trying not to panic about Chicago but I’m only human after all.

Anyway, onto happier and more pleasant things…. sausages. I was sent some sausages and burgers again from the lovely people from Wild and Game.

They sent me some Premium Grouse & Wild Boar sausages.
I adore these sausages (to be honest I really really like all Wild & Game sausages).

They are SO fricking tasty. I made a really random meal for Kyle and I one evening – basically emptying the fridge of stuff that needed eating and I threw in the sausages chopped up with a load of vegetables and it was DIVINE.

Kyle was even super impressed – he loved them.

And they also sent some Pheasant & Venison burgers.

Again, these were so tasty. The sausages and burgers do have a rich and gamy taste but not overwhelmingly so. They just taste very flavoursome and meaty.

This is because there is 47% Wild Boar and 25% Grouse in the sausages (for comparison Richmond Thick sausages contain 42% pork). The burgers contain 40% Pheasant and 35% Venison. Good quality ingredients and less “filler”. And the products are low fat because of the meat they’re using (game is less fatty compared to traditional sausage and burger meat like pork and beef).

What’s your favourite kind of sausage?

Do you eat game a lot?

Do you think I’m doing the right thing with my hamstring?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Wild & Game products for free inexchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

My hamstring injury

Not running right now definitely sucks.

A few weeks of it was alright – I probably needed the break. But then another week and another week and I’m getting grumpy about it. It’s not do with losing fitness (though that is quite annoying of course), but more to do with missing being outside in the fresh air and my having my usual routine.

I also like to keep the gym to mostly strength based training. So now incorporating cross training (with the likes of the elipitical machine, the step machine and walking backwards on the treadmill – more on that later) it seems I’m spending a lot of the time in the gym just doing the cardio stuff I find ever so dull.

So my injury is do with my “high” hamstring, where it connects to my bum basically. I’ve had a bit of a long-standing issue with this since the Boston Marathon but it’s been manageable. Basically I can only just start to feel it if I’ve run a long way or I’ve been sat down for hours.

It became a lot worse after sitting for four hours on the train straight after the Manchester 10k . I got off the train my hamstring and completely seized up. But I just thought it was something that would be fine once I got moving and I continued to run and then I blasted out the Romsey Beer Race (knowing it would make it worse). And here I am.

It’s a tricky injury because of its position; not much blood gets to it and I have to do a lot of sitting for my job, which isn’t great for its recovery. It’s not painful but it is a constant discomfort. When I run it sort of feels like it’s tugging at it and becomes more uncomfortable. So I haven’t run at all.

Just casually staring at the floor

What I have done is a lot of rehabbing at the gym. It’s hard to know exactly what is good and what is bad. I’ve seen my physio a few times and he’s been great with helping it and giving me advice. I’ve looked online (I KNOW I KNOW, terrible idea).

What I’ve gauged from online is that there’s very little research on this area into what’s best. What I have gleamed are the best exercises to do and what to avoid.

I’ll obviously preface this with: I am clearly not a physio, doctor or have any real scooby about any other body but my body (and I’m on a thin line with that at best). Please take care.

Best exercises for high hamstring tendinopathy:

  • Glute bridge: I begun by doing two legged bridges, then focused on single leg (lifting one leg).
  • Hip thrusts: I also do weighted hip thrusts (either low rep with a high weight, or high rep with a lower weight).
  • Glute kickbacks: I use the cable machine in the gym and the foot attachment and then gently kick my leg back without bending my body. I focus on using my glutes and hamstring and prevent my back helping. I do the movement gently but used weight that I found tough to go over 15-20 reps.
  • Eccentric box jumps: the idea behind eccentric box jumps (jumping off a box) is that it’s less of an aggravation than jumping onto the box. It’s a controlled impact to strengthen your hamstring, but to be used wisely.
  • Lying single hamstring curls
  • Retro walking: this is a fancy term for walking backwards on the treadmill. I put the incline up to the highest it can go and have the speed setting on to a fairly fast walk (but I did build up to this because it’s quite scary at first!). This is a great way to get some cardio in without stressing the hamstring out. You look like a weirdo but it works.
Glute kickback

Things to avoid:

  • Basically anything that causes compressive load on the hamstring at the beginning. So exercises like deadlifts (which I rarely ever do now since the injury after Boston because I know it flares it up), squats, seated hamstring curls or lunges. I’m avoiding them completely until the discomfort has gone as I don’t want it to flare up again.
  • Sitting for long periods isn’t great (but understandably unavoidable for those who like me.
  • Cycling (I did spin and this did not help matters!)

The exercises that I do I let my discomfort guide me. I never let my hamstring feel pain above a three but I do push it to work hard. The idea is strengthening it by stressing it to build it back up stronger, but not weakening it by damaging it further. It’s a fine balance… one I’m trying to get to grips with.

I do think I should probably try running soon. I’m just nervous. Nervous about how it’ll feel and nervous it’ll make it worse and lengthen my recovery and nervous. Obviously I won’t go for a 10k run, it’ll be a gradual thing. I just need to work out when.

Chicago Marathon isn’t that far away (15 weeks) and if I think too much about it and what’s at stake I start to panic and fall into a dark well of fear and sadness. Having a plan is what’s holding me together. I just need to make sure this plan is moving forwards not backwards.

Have you ever had hamstring issues?

Do you have any advice?

30+1 and other great things

What’s been happening around here lately… asides from my vegan adventures.

Let’s get over the negatives quickly… I haven’t been running. I only have myself to blame really as I pushed it at the Romsey Beer Race when realistically I should have sat it out.

My hamstring was just on the mend and then ehhh I pushed and it became worse. I’ve been seeing my physio (if you’re in need around the Portsmouth area he’s great) and it’s been helping.

It’s a tough one really as it’s the upper part of my hamstring (“high hamstring”) and this area notoriously doesn’t get much blood flow. Then coupled with sitting making things worse (hey day job..), means that healing is slow.

It’s hard to know how to help the situation. Obviously I’m not running. But I’m a big believer in strength training to help and doing strength work does improve blood flow to the area. It’s just finding that balance of pushing and protecting the hamstring. Gentle single leg glute bridges and being conscious of the muscle (i.e. making sure it’s the hamstring working and not my back or glute taking over). So that’s that right now.

But on to more positive things.

Podcasts

Oh my god, if you have not tried Sh**ged Married and Annoyed podcast from Chris and Rosie Ramsey you NEED to. It is so funny. Laugh out loud while walking Alfie kind of funny. I love their Geordie accents, how relatable they are and their humour. It’s my new favourite and I’m trying not to binge listen to them because I like having lots ready to go.

Birthday

Ahh another year has passed. It has FLOWN by. And a lot has happened in that time. I’ve been and done a number of cool things, eaten A LOT of cake and chicken wings (40 is my new PB), ran a lot (5 marathons!), got myself a cheeky 10k PB (who’d have thought eh!), and spent a lot of time with a guy who’s become somewhat important in my life…

So yeah while I might be older, I’m definitely not wiser but happier, and that’s something eh!

Birthday Cake

Kyle’s lovely sister, Lucy, is AMAZING at baking and for my birthday she made the most amazing cake.

It’s INCREDIBLE. She kept the design a secret from me and when I saw it I just could not believe the detail! So chuffed.

It’s a fruit cake which is cool and means it’ll last for a bit (ha..well we’ll see).

As it was Lucy’s birthday the day before mine we shared celebrating it at Kyle’s house with his family and had the most awesome spread of food. Chicken wings, ribs, spring rolls, crisps, chocolate, token salad.

It was fantastic and such a fab way for me to re-enter into the world of eating meat again.

I will say though that ordinarily I’ll be reducing my consumption of animal products but it was a celebration so I did eat quite a lot it must be said!

Presents

I got so many lovely gifts for my birthday, I was very (god I hate this word so much) blessed.

My lovely friend Louise even made me an amazing sign. She’s just started a new business of handmade crafted items (carvings in glass and wood) and her gift to me was just perfect.

Check out her Facebook page here if you’re interested.

Merchant House

On Thursday night my work team and I went out for a meal and drinks at The Merchant House in Southsea.

I’ve seen so many good things on their Instagram and it didn’t disappoint!

I went for the pork belly burger (with maple bacon and cheese) with burnt end loaded fries and deep fried vegan cauliflower bites.

Their vegan menu actually looked really good! I was tempted to try their seitan burger but in the end was too tempted by pork belly. It just means I need to go back!

It was a really fun evening. I really like the people I work with, the food was fantastic and I love Southsea. It feels like a mini Brighton šŸ™‚

So despite not running, there’s still a lot of good stuff happening round here!

What kind of burger is your favourite?

What’s your favourite food at a buffet?

Do you go out with your work colleagues?

The highs far outweigh the lows

The other week Kyle and I took off Thursday and Friday and had a little adventure.

OK it wasn’t so much of an adventure as just a trip to Bristol. But hey ho, let’s go with it. We were off to see Sons of the East at the Thekla, a very intimate gig location on a boat.

We woke up and had did 6 miles on the Thursday morning. The run for me felt terrible. Like truly terrible. I was so tired and lethargic and it just felt awful. I couldn’t seem to get going. I wondered if it was just one of those rubbish runs and didn’t think too much of it.

We then headed to Bristol to do a little bit of shopping and then check in to our AirBnb. Thankfully this AirBnb was lovely. It was right next to the River Avon in such a beautiful location. The AirBnb host was beyond nice and the place itself was GORGEOUS. We had our own room and bathroom and even chocolates on the pillow!

From there we walked about a mile to The Burger Theory for dinner. I’d done a bit of research to find somewhere and this seemed like the perfect spot. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my high expectations. This is one of the downsides of researching places to the max… you build it up and get a vision in your mind of what it’s going to be like and when it’s not quite as good as you’ve been led to believe it can be really disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice and the food was good. It just wasn’t how I thought. I’d heard the halloumi fries were seriously good but actually turned out to be really dry and overly chewy.

My chicken wings were tasty but they were TINY. Though I’d ordered the starter portion and added extra wings to make it up to 12 it was (for me and my greedy, overly big appetite) quite unsatisfying.

Kyle and I shared the karaage chicken loaded fries which were very nice, but basically just fries at the end of the day with some toppings (as they’re meant to be, to be fair) so didn’t hugely fulfill my want for something a bit more “meaty”.

Kyle enjoyed his burger though! To be honest, he was so excited about the gig that we probably could have been eating cardboard and he wouldn’t have cared. Sons of the East are his favourite band so this trip really was mainly for him. Of course I was excited to be there too and I do enjoy their music, but I’m not a “super” fan like Kyle.

The gig itself was really good. The band were SO good live and we had a great time. We got to chat to the band afterwards and get some photos. We were going to go to the Creams Gelato after for some late night pudding but I’d started to feel quite ropy and exhausted so we headed back.

Unfortunately I then had a terrible night’s sleep and on waking feeling evenĀ  more tired realised I actually had a cold. Whomp whomp!

Beautiful view from the Mud Dock

This was fairly disappointing because we were meeting my friend, Kate, and her baby, Dexter, for brunch at the Mud Dock. I really didn’t fancy anything and just had porridge. A very safe and comforting meal for me. Not the fry-up I’d previously had in mind.

Saturday I went to Netley parkrun (probably ill advised to be honest) and did a very gentle run with Mike. It felt very hard-going!

Sadly this later translated into a failed run on the Sunday as well. I woke up feeling still not 100% and my hamstring was niggling a bit. It had been very slightly annoying me since the Manchester 10k. Not really because of the run per se but because I sat for 4 hours straight on the train ride back. I remember standing up and getting off the train and feeling it being very unhappy and tight.

My left upper hamstring has always caused me issues on and off for a few years now. It usually remains dormant and fine unless I do any sort of deadlifts or severe hamstring stretches and it will occasionally make itself known if I do any super long runs. But it’s usually fine. However it was on and off bugging me.

I decided to cut the long run short (2 miles in) and Kyle and I headed back. Surprisingly I wasn’t too sad. There have been many times in my running life that a niggle, injury or failed run would have really ruined my day but now I’m a bit more chilled about it. Of course I was a little down about not being able to do the run but I have a different perspective now so I don’t dwell. Kyle and I had a fun day ahead going to my friend’s wedding.

The wedding was good fun. We were both able to drink as we got the train to the venue and we let our hair down a bit (in fact, Kyle’s sister very kindly curled my hair which is something I never do!).

We felt very glam in our wedding outfits and had a good time. The ceremony was beautiful. There were two people on our table who didn’t show up so we got to share their starter and main (by the time pudding arrived the staff had cottoned on, damn!).

It became quite the day I can tell you. The bride’s brother kept persuading us to do shots. In the end I had FIVE shots, on top of other drinks!

I mean, I had certainly peaked by 6pm haha!

I had three slices of this strawberry and champagne flavoured cake

Monday we woke up late a teeny bit hungover and had a nice lazy morning. Then I decided to head off to the gym. I did 60 minutes on the stair machine while watching Graham Norton. I like the stair machine – it’s a definite challenge and I find it’s helping strengthen my legs. It does sap you though! My hamstring felt fine using it and it was a nice way to get in a solid workout after my failed run the day before.

So despite a few little niggles, the bank holiday weekend was a lovely one!

Do you enjoy weddings?

Do you go to any gigs?