For the Love of Hamstrings

December 9th, 2021 by Kelly Kienzle

I was cruising through the summer preparing for my first in-person race in 2 years, scheduled for early November.  I felt an annoying pain in my left hamstring that I had successfully ignored for the previous 3 months and I was pretty impressed by my toughness and grit.

Then that Hamstring started talking to me more, complaining about a low-level pain that I thought it was just being a wimp about.  Then, instead of just whining about a little pain on uphills, Hamstring persisted whining through more of my runs.

Hamstring then got very self-centered and would complain at me while I was just walking around.  Next I felt it when sitting.  And then I even felt the pain while sleeping.

The Involuntary Slow-down

Something had to be done with Hamstring.  So I begrudgingly and with great bitterness, canceled my race (two races, actually) and gradually eased off of exercise until I was down to nothing.

I spent two weeks doing absolutely nothing, until I had to restore my deteriorating mental health by a return to yoga, but “just” slow flow yoga.  (Yes, I actually did yoga with a feeling of judgment and mild pouting.  I self-revoked my yogi status for that.)  And even a I write this post, Hamstring is still chirping at me.

The Lesson I Did Not Want to Learn

Underneath this story is a lesson for me.  It’s a lesson for me not to ignore the messages my body sends to me.  It’s a lesson for me not to make a commitment (in this case, a commitment to rest) with bitterness and self-pity.

Deep in my gut, I know I need to be kinder to Hamstring.  It is simply overworked.  This muscle carried me 459 miles this year, before walking out on me.  It still carries me around, even though it’s tired and inflamed.

Anger is the Easy Way Out

My anger and frustration does not make it better.  Instead, what if I were to treat it, and thus myself, with more kindness?  How could being compassionate with it help me recover?  How is being compassionate the harder thing to do, while still the right thing to do?

What are you angry or frustrated about?  How deserved is that anger?  What are you grateful for?  How can each of us reframe our anger into some form of loving kindness?

As soon as my hamstring heals, I’ll run over to your house to tell you my answers.  Until then, I hope you find yours.

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