I ran my first marathon in 2009 and ran 4 more marathons after that. I was doing really well and consistently getting PRs until my hip overuse injury in 2012. After three years, I’m finally making a comeback. People who also have hip pain often ask me how and what my pain was/is like, what caused it and how I am overcoming it.
I attribute my injury to being a stubborn runner. That doesn’t really help others see if their issues are similar, so here is why I think it is because I was stubborn…
No Running Base
Before my last marathon, I signed up for the Pumpkinman half Ironman. My training was not my best. It was probably the busiest I had been at work and also outside of work. I had participated in many other events outside of work and really spread myself thin. It was the only race I had thought I would stop training for because I was extremely grumpy and burnt out. It was also the only race that I wanted to stop in the middle of. However, I survived the race.
After Pumpkinman, I had Boston Marathon 2012 up next. I went into training as if I had my strong running base that I had for all other marathons I had raced. The thing was…I didn’t have that running base. I was running maybe 2-3 days a week (if even that!) during Pumpkinman training and they weren’t quality runs. I wasn’t eating healthy, I wasn’t getting enough sleep and my body really just needed a break. I was setting myself up for disaster expecting to go the mileage and pace that I had in previous marathon training plans.
Not listening to my body or seeking help until it was too late
Too much mileage and running too fast resulted in what it should have–an injury. The first injury I got was plantar fasciitis on my right foot. I ignored it for a while until it got too painful. Eventually, I went to a PT and was able to get rid of it. But because I went a little too late, my body was already starting to overcompensate for this injury and I ended up having some hip issues on my left side.
Despite the pain, I still did not ease up on my training. Even though I ended up fixing my plantar fasciitis, I ended up with pain on both hips! When I ran, it was a concentrated pain on both hips and also on my butt (the piriformis). When I wasn’t running, it was throbbing pain/soreness all around my hips. Did I stop running? Nope.
Not adjusting training after figuring out what was wrong
I still remember my last long run before the marathon. I was running the course with a friend and the pain was so bad that it felt like someone was stabbing me on my side of my hip. I completed the run, but I shouldn’t have. I welcomed the taper and rested as much as I could. Did I really need that last 20 miler? No–I would have been fine without it. It was on the plan though, and I was determined to do it.
Sprinting for the finish
When marathon time came, I knew I couldn’t expect a PR both because of what condition I was in and because it was the year that it was 90+ degrees out. My friends and I ran the marathon just to have fun and complete it. Then when I reached the last mile stretch, I was feeling good with no hip pain and a huge adrenaline rush (I was running Boston Marathon!). I decided to sprint–yes…sprint–to the finish. Stupid idea. I ran so fast (around 7:00 pace) that my hands started to tingle and feel numb. I slowed so that I didn’t pass out and crossed the finish line with a smile.
I felt fine after the race–no hip pain or any pain! In fact, my friends said I looked the happiest I had after any other race I had completed! But a few days later I began my 3 year journey to hip pain and soreness. I don’t think it was one particular workout, habit or factor that caused my injury but a culmination of bad training habits.
My next post will talk about the steps to my recovery and more about the hip pain!