Monday, April 8, 2013

I Made the Mistake of Playing it Safe

So . . . you know how I've been dealing with hamstring injuries the past few weeks? How I've been taking care to avoid slippery outdoor conditions and run on a softer treadmill surface? And how I've stuck with the treadmill so I could quickly stop my run if pain surfaced? 

It turns out, all this playing it safe with treadmill running business was quite possibly a key contributing factor to my injuries. 

 My tm and I are taking a break - hopefully we can be friends again soon!

A niggle of pain appeared. I decided to play it safe by running on the treadmill. The pain got worse. I stuck with running on the treadmill because I feared slipping on a patch of ice and further injury. I couldn't run a single mile at a much-slower-than-usual pace without my hamstrings tightening up and major pain. I feared my spring racing season was over. 

Last week Monday I ran on the treadmill and ended up with hamstring pain so severe that I could barely tolerate sitting at my desk at work. My hamstrings felt a bit better by Thursday and the weather was too nice to stay inside so I ventured out for a few miles. I told myself four slow miles, nothing crazy. And if any pain appeared, I would stop and walk home. 

I ended up running more than six miles at my pre-injury easy pace. Nothing hurt. I could have kept going and I wanted to keep going. The only thing that stopped me was thinking about how I should be conservative since this was more or less my first run back.

I took Friday off but tried running again on Saturday morning. This time I did 10 miles and once again, had zero pain and was able to run at a normal pace. 

 My favorite Brooks Defyance shoes are back to pounding the pavement!

Although it's still a bit too early to tell, my initial thought is that the moving belt on the treadmill somehow threw off my stride and over time, this led to injury. I have an appointment at the Froedtert Running Clinic this week so I will learn more then. What I can tell you now is that even though rain, snow and wind are in the forecast for this week, I will run all of my miles outside!

At this point, I'm cautiously optimistic that I can turn things around and still get in at least one quality spring race. I'm no longer thinking about the Wisconsin Half Marathon, but instead have set my sights on a few races later in May to give me more time to train.

Speaking of, here's this week's plan:

Monday: 4 miles @easy pace, 45 minutes strength training, 4-6 miles cycling
Tuesday: 6 miles (including hill repeats), 30 minutes core work, 4-6 miles cycling
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: 6 miles @easy pace, 30 minutes core work, 4-6 miles cycling
Friday: 4 miles @easy pace
Saturday: 10 miles @easy pace
Sunday: Rest Day

My focus now is on re-building a solid base before adding speedwork. To build strength, I will run hills, which are much more forgiving than hard track repeats. Also, this training will come in handy for the May race I have my eye on. It has a reputation for being hilly so this way I'll be prepared!

Two questions: Have you ever been injured from running on a treadmill? On a lighter note, if you could run with anyone for an hour, who would you pick?

During last night's #RunChat, I answered Kara Goucher, my Oiselle teammate Lauren Fleshman, my friend and professional runner Ariana Hilborn and Sage Canaday because I enjoyed reading his book!

- ST


  1. That's really interesting about the treadmill! I actually had a similar problem with my knees -- they killed on the treadmill, but were completely fine outside. I wish we lived in a warmed place so running outside was always an option :)

    1. Interesting about your knees and the treadmill! On a day like today, the treadmill would be a nice option!

  2. Oh, no! I hate when you think you're "playing it safe," but actually doing more harm than good. I have never had any pain from treadmill running, but I could totally see how it would through off your gait. Glad to hear that you're feeling better, though!

    1. Thanks Alex! I learned this morning that running on a treadmill is kind of like a rabbit running after a dangling carrot and may lead to overstriding!