For those who follow along with my weekly workouts posts, it will come as no surprise that I’ve been having some hip flexor pain lately. What you may not know is that I had a similar injury two summers ago, in my other hip, and I’ve been thinking about that experience a lot lately as I try to figure out how to rest, recover, prevent further or future damage, and also get back on track with marathon training.
Two summers ago, I had just registered for my first marathon after running my first half marathon in March 2014, the New York City Half Marathon (I ran again in 2015 and PR’ed this year at that race). I set my sights on the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2015, planning to run it with my friend Ashley. I was feeling great about having become a “real runner” after running my first race the autumn prior, upping my mileage from 20 or so a week to 25, and having fun running despite the early summer heat when I began to feel some pain in my right hip in late May 2014. I continued running, thinking the pain would subside if I ran a little less and did a bit more stretching. It didn’t get worse right away, but after a couple of weeks I wasn’t able to run more than 4-5 miles and was feeling soreness and stiffness in the area around my hip flexor throughout the day after running. At a charity 5k race in late June, I had to stop running because the pain intensified, and thereafter I decided I would just take a couple of weeks off and see what happened. I was working at my summer job in Manhattan and stayed active by walking to and from work each day and going to some yoga classes.
After three weeks, I set out for a jog and realized I couldn’t move that way at all without my hip hurting. I knew I needed to see a doctor, but I waited a couple of weeks more through the end of July. It had been about six weeks since my hip began to hurt. When I finally went to the chiropractor, he said that I had strained my hip flexor. He couldn’t tell me why – my guess is that the right side of my body was weaker because I had previously developed tendinitis in my right knee when I was in high school and had also broken my right ankle. Both injuries occurred many (7-8) years prior, but it probably put more pressure on my hip. Whatever the reason, I started going to physical therapy twice a week, doing the exercises they gave me at home on the other days, and waiting another four weeks to start running again.
I laced up for four very slow miles interspersed with lots of walking breaks at the end of August, ten weeks after I’d stopped running. My hip was feeling much better, but I continued to do the recommended exercises and attended physical therapy for another two weeks. I increased my mileage very slowly, running 3 days a week until later in the fall, and ended up running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January 2015 as my comeback race instead of the marathon. I ran with a charity team because they refunded my marathon registration but there were no regular spots left in the half. It was for the better, because fundraising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and running the race for a cause made it about more than just coming back from an injury. I felt like I was giving back too 🙂
Since then, I’ve run many half marathons and shorter races, and a few months into 2015 decided to commit to the 9+1 program with New York Road Runners to gain entry into this year’s marathon. I haven’t had significant hip pain, and when I’ve felt a twinge in my right hip or knee I’ve backed off a little. So I was surprised when my left hip began to hurt a few weeks ago. I’ve been doing hip stretches and many of the exercises I remembered from physical therapy, but it’s gotten worse and I was unable to complete my workouts as scheduled last week. This time around, I’m already into marathon training, but instead of going immediately to physical therapy I’ve decided to see a sports medicine specialist to get to the root cause of the injury. I want to figure out not only how to heal my hip and be able to continue with training in a few weeks’ time, but also how to prevent similar injury in the future.
I’m limiting my running for the time being, focusing on walking, stretching, and maybe a little yoga, while continuing to check in with Laura about how I’m doing. I’ll also keep checking in here, and hopefully I’ll be back to recapping good weeks of workouts soon!
Have you ever had a running or sports-related injury?
How do you adjust your workouts to prevent injury?
Favorite alternative workout?
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