In February 2001 I ran my PB
(personal best) marathon
in a time of 3:58:17. Now anyone who knows me can imagine the
‘low flying’ I must’ve been doing! For this ALSORAN runner,
things just went really well on the day and before I knew it, I had
broken 4 hours on a marathon,
the Cango Caves Marathon
to be exact! Nowadays I have to race to break 5
hours. How times have changed (literally and
figuratively). I digress!
Well I felt pretty good after
the run. My celebrations did not stop at all that
day. By the Monday morning, I was back on the road with my running buddies.
We took things easy as I had a warm sensation at the back of my leg
starting from my butt. I figured it was tired legs after
Saturday’s effort. So the next morning I was out on the road
again, warm butt/leg and all. By Wednesday the warm sensation
was feeling more like a burning sensation. I figured it might
be a good idea to pop in and see my physio and just get her to give my
legs a good old rub down. I was planning on running the Cape
that coming Sunday. What can I say, I was young and bullet
proof! Well my physio took one feel (which I felt, ouch!) and
told me the sad truth. I had a torn hamstring!
Up to this point in my running I had no
idea what a hammie even
felt like. Alas, it appears I had pushed it beyond its
capabilities. Never to be put down by a running injury, I
asked my physio to sort it out so I could run my marathon on Sunday
(ok again, I was young and foolish!) This is when she told me
the sad reality. She said “Nikki. If you run Cape Town on
Sunday, I promise you, you will not run the Two Oceans this
year”! It was like God himself had spoken those
words. She wasn’t kidding, no smile on her face!
Well as punishment I was ‘banned’ from running for 2
weeks. That was her deal. In that time, I saw her
regularly and she worked her skill and her magic on my leg each
After 2 weeks I was allowed
to get the leg working again. She also told me that hamstrings have
memories, they don’t forget easily! Even though I was running again, I
knew the hamstring
was there! It would take months before it went into
hiding. The good news is that I was able to get back to my
training, albeit a little slower than before, but I made the start line
and continued on to run marathons
for the rest of the year. This was a happy ending.
July of 2006, having run the Comrades
Marathon 3 weeks earlier, I ran the Knysna 21km as a “fun
run” before the Rhodes
Ultra Marathon which takes place a week
Well I was running
in a very festive bus (the Sub Sober bus to be exact) but they picked
up the pace towards the end and I fell off the bus. Not
wanting to come in on my own, I gave chase with about 2km to go,
catching them just outside the stadium. We finished all
together and I thought that was that.
During the week that familiar
warm sensation made a return. Hello hamstring my old
friend, you’ve come to run with me again! Unfortunately for
me, I was in transit, we were travelling up to Rhodes so there was
no chance of physio in between. The other problem was that
there was no way I could pull out of the race, I was ‘defending’ a Rhodes ticket and
had missed the deadline for substitutions! I had no choice
but to run!
If you have ever run Rhodes you will know
that it is a 52km trail run at altitude in freezing
conditions! So my hamstring
and I set out and did battle with the
mountains all day. It burnt, it bitched, it bit me!
Running hurt and so did walking! Eight and a half hours later
we were done (in more ways than one!)
That put paid to the rest of
the year in terms of racing anything. I still ran Voet and
Winelands but basically I had stopped training altogether in between,
choosing to ‘run on memory’. Not really a good
idea! I guess I wasn’t particularly ‘phased’ because I had
achieved what I wanted to for the year, namely finishing the Comrades Marathon.
Come the new year, when
training needs to start in earnest for Two Oceans and Comrades marathon
and my offending hamstring
was still there! Now I was ‘phased’ because I had started my “focus” for
Comrades and needed to do the training. Well to cut a long
story short it involved almost weekly physio from January until June as
I continued my training for Comrades.
I had to run at a slower pace so that my hammie wouldn’t
twinge. I also had to stretch before every run (and as you
know, runners don’t stretch, that is, unless they are
injured!) As luck, rest and good physio would have it, I
lined up for my 10th Comrades
feeling strong and fit and proceeded to finish comfortably in 10:52,
with no hamstring
What have I learned from all of
- That hamstring
injuries don’t just go away or get better.
- They need to be
treated with respect.
- LISTEN to your physio when you are told
- Run SLOWER and DON’T PUSH if you are in the “hamstring repair”
do have long memories BUT they do get better if you play by the rules!
words: marathon, torn hamstring, running, Comrades Marathon, hammie
Internal links: stretching, physio, focus,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website, Two
Oceans Marathon, Rhodes Ultra Marathon