I’ve started running a couple times per week as I work through these high hamstring strains. I’ve determined laying off isn’t the answer. I need to show some progress. Not to mention, I’ve gained nearly ten pounds over the last two months by not running. My plan of action is to strengthen my legs with weights and calisthenics.
My current read is Being Mortal. Jen turned me on to it. The subject matter is death but I’ve gleaned running advice from its virtual Kindle pages. The book states how people begin to lose muscle mass after 40, as much as half by the time they reach 80. Looking at my skinny calves, it wouldn’t surprise me if I’ve already lost half my muscle mass from my youth. I don’t think 20% is an unreasonable estimate. This explains why I so easily strained my hamstrings. I exceeded my limits running off muscle memory.
I knew when I turned 40 that strength training would arguably be more beneficial than aerobic exercise. Karen makes it a mandatory component of her dance aerobics. But I find strength training boring. Weights fail to meet my criteria for enjoyable exercise, I require a higher degree of fluid motion. I’m no dancer, but I can honestly say that I feel creative and artsy when I run. Not sure I can explain why, I just do. My buddy Rob describes his hiking as a continuum. Like inking your life story over years of seemingly inchoate tattoos. I’m all about continuous motion and I don’t feel any rhythm in weights.
I find myself spending more effort on calisthenics than weights. My favorite is a plank wherein I alternate lifting a leg up in series of five lifts. I learned the exercise at this site. I’ve also increased my massages in an attempt to rub out the scar tissue. And my rule for running, now that I’m back at it, is to simply keep my pace slow. It’s actually hard not to as the hamstring strains act as a governor.
These hamstring strains have proven resilient. This is my first real injury in two years – which I consider a really good stretch. I’m taking it in stride for several reasons. First, I was in such good shape last year that (despite the weight gain) I don’t believe I’ve lost much in terms of conditioning. Not in panic mode yet. Second, recreational athletes like myself face the same concerns as elite athletes. We are typically suffering from some strain or injury almost constantly. It’s expected and simply a matter of injury management. Third, I find injury management an interesting process. I am constantly learning and improving based on my injuries. I improved my form after suffering from plantar fasciitis. I learned to strengthen my knees with abductor and adductor exercises. And this injury has helped me to recognize how age weakens muscles and requires renewed focus on strength training. As long as I learn from my injuries, it’s all good.