In sports like American football, when a player is injured, the commentators often say something like, “[Player-X] has a hamstring.” … or “[So-in-so] is out with a hamstring.” I always find it funny when they leave off the word “injury” — as if human beings don’t normally have a hamstring (two, even!) You can do this with any part of the body… “PlayerX has an ankle” …. “PlayerY is out with a wrist.” It makes me laugh… Until now, that is. Because now … I myself have a hamstring!
My friend Shelly likes to call it a hammy, which I think is cute. For some reason, it makes me think of a person running around with a big ham tied to the back of their leg, like in a cartoon. But this, my friends, is no laughing matter. Sure, I’ve had a strained/pulled hamstring before, and I would generally feel it whenever I started running. It would ache at first and then warm up and be okay. I could always think back to the moment I over-stretched it … maybe in a yoga class or while stretching after a run. But this time, it’s much worse. Sharp, searing pain, and not always when I’m running. I might just be walking into a store and YOWZA! An extreme burst of pain in my right hamstring — like it’s about to rip off. I hate it, and I’m embarrassed by it.
It also hurts when I’m driving. What’s with that? Somehow, they designed driver’s seats to put you exactly in the worst position for a hamstring injury. It takes me about an hour to commute to work (sometimes longer), and occasionally, I think I might have to pull over and take a rest because my hammy hurts so bad. It’s crazy.
I found this really great article that explains what’s going on with hamstrings and why they get injured. The problem is that they are actually over-stretched all the time, and the quads are stronger, so the quads just pull the hamstrings even more. Then, we feel like we need to stretch the hammies, but they’re over-stretched already. So, it’s like a vicious cycle. (The article explains it much better, but that’s the gist). My latest frustration is that I’ve been doing more strength training lately — which is what you are supposed to do to strengthen the hamstring so it doesn’t get injured. And yet! … The strength training seems to be aggravating my injury! That’s probably because I should have been doing more of it *before* I injured it. I know I need to ice it and rest it. I’ve been mostly swimming lately, so that’s good. (Swimming is awesome, because you can almost always swim – even when you’re injured.) But my work schedule this week has not made it easy to ice it. I will have to do better. And I may even have to break down and get an MRI.
I wouldn’t freak out over an injury like this normally. But this next year, I have two (yes, TWO) Ironman races on my schedule (Lake Placid & Maryland). So, I can’t afford to go into the training season with a big fat hammy. I just can’t. As much as I’ve been in denial over this injury, I’m going to have to face the facts and do the right thing with this one.
In other news, yesterday was my 3rd kidneyversary! That’s right, three years since I donated my left kidney to my stepdad. I spoke to my stepdad yesterday, and he is still doing great! And, hammy aside, I’m still doing great also. I think about my little right kidney down there working away to keep me healthy, and I just have to thank that kidney for stepping up and taking on the full load! At the time of my donation, I had only done my first half-Ironman, and I wasn’t sure if I could ever do that again. I found it to be so hard. At that time, I couldn’t imagine doing an Ironman, much less scheduling two in one year! Ironman Arizona was so amazing, and I know that we trained diligently for it. I’m going to have to be even more disciplined this time. I have to think that I’ve put that lone kidney through a lot! Thank you so much, little kidney!!! This has been quite a journey!
It seems funny to worry that having a hamstring could derail my triathlon plans, whereas having a kidney (only one, that is) doesn’t seem to be a problem at all.