The term “slow-motion trainwreck” might be a solid characterization of how my training is progressing right now. I have a vague idea of where this might be going, but I’m not sure how to stop it.
I’ll have days completely free of pain, and then days when that nagging hitch in my hamstring come back and precludes me from running anything under a certain pace without altering my gait significantly. Speed work of any kind appears to be the catalyst.
I was pain-free after falling out of the kayak and cracking my back, until about two weeks later when the ache returned on the very last rep of a 400m workout. I took a day off, whined, complained, did a bunch of physical therapy exercises, and set out on Sunday for what I’d originally foreseen as a 22-mile run but decided would probably be closer to 5-10. Well, I made it through the entire 22 miles, painlessly, at 7:25 pace.
Sure. Next couple days were fine, just some recovery jogs.
Then I set out this morning for a bit of marathon pace work. I warmed up for three miles, did a set of three miles at ~6:58, jogged a mile, and then midway through the second set, the stupid pain popped up again. I backed off immediately and shuffled home.
Where does this leave me?
I can slog through easy miles with no problem, but any time I try to touch sub-7:00 pace, it starts to feel like someone is strumming my lateral hamstring tendon with a glass plectrum.
I’ve got 32 days until I’m supposed to be lining up at the bottom of the Art Museum steps, legs charged with adrenaline, eyes searching the other nervous-happy faces, heart thrumming a bit too fast as I try to get my head around what I’m about to attempt…
Now I just don’t know. I’m not at a point where I can conclusively throw in the towel, and again, I do tend toward the melodramatic where even the teensiest of injuries is concerned, but I’m not so sure how this is going to go anymore.
Maybe I overdid it. Maybe I just asked too much volume of my legs this summer and now it’s catching up. Or maybe this is a quick fix I can remedy with some physical therapy, or more appropriate shoes, or better attention to my stride and footfalls. Who knows. This could either devolve into a nightmare overuse injury, or it might just… go away. (Hey, it’s happened to me before.)
Today, the uncertainty of how to proceed is the tricky part. Once you know how bad things are and have an accurate picture of exactly what you’re dealing with, you can commit to the long period of grinding it out and plowing through it. You can launch the uphill one-day-at-a-time battle of whatever you have to do to navigate it in a way that will prevent you from feeling miserable and hopeless. But right now? In the early stages, you just keep hoping you’ll wake up to discover that whatever was challenging you is either completely manageable or — even better — has miraculously evaporated overnight.