Monday, December 3, 2012

High Hamstring Tendinopathy - uh-oh

Yep. It's back.

I was all set to go out of the year on a high - I was feeling great and I really felt I was on track for some good performances in 2013.

But once again the gods intervened. "No, no," they said. "We must throw a spanner in the works."

So they did. A big, ugly spanner that hit me on the backside. High hamstring tendinopathy - a real pain in the butt.

I had this condition a few years ago and I went through some really rough times. All up, it lasted about nine months - although I admit to trying to train and race (badly) through it (when I could run that is). It was misdiagnosed and therefore mistreated for a long time. I tried so many different things and nothing helped. Even when I had some power back in my legs I still suffered from pain in the butt - long car rides had me in tears a few times because there was nothing I could do to relieve it.

I've had an inkling something wasn't quite right for a few weeks - the first time I noticed it was after the weekend of 10-11 November. On the Saturday I rode for three hours then ran a little off the bike, testing how things were for Canberra 70.3. The next day I ran 30k, which felt fine. On the Monday both hamstrings felt tight, but I thought that was a result of the weekend's training. Ran OK that day and did an interval session on Tuesday - a few were off pace by one or two seconds but generally it was alright. I couldn't seem to loosen up all week but I put it down to the weekend as well as the fact I was working crazy long hours and sitting at my computer until past midnight, which is never good.

The next weekend (18 Nov) I was planning on doing a cruisy half marathon - not pushing it. Went round in 1:25 (and seconds) to get the win and although I didn't feel like I was pushing it hard my hamstrings were burning. Hmmm. I was starting to worry a bit. Had a massage on Sunday afternoon to try and loosen things up.

My main goal for November was the Central Coast Half Marathon on 25 November. I was looking to run this in about 1:21:30 and hoping to run pretty even splits. Very early on, I knew I was in for a tough race. There was no power in my legs at all - it feels like you're a car that has just skipped from first gear to fifth gear and no matter how much you try and accelerate there's just nothing there.

 I wanted to pull out, but I doggedly pushed on, seeing my kilometre splits getting slower and slower. Yes, it was hot and humid, but that certainly doesn't explain the time - 1:25:39 - SLOWER than the previous week and I felt I worked a lot harder to get it. Certainly nowhere near the target time. I managed to finish in third place but I was so disappointed with the race and I knew the injury had returned. I remembered the lack of power feeling only too well.

My coach recommended a physio - Brent Kirkbride at Sydney Sports Medicine Centre - and I immediately made an appointment,  crossing my fingers he'd have me on my way quickly.

My appointment was this afternoon and it was far from uplifting. High hamstring tendinopathy is relatively rare, complicated to treat and everyone's body reacts differently to the treatment so making a prognosis is difficult. There is no quick fix. For some people there is no fix.

Brent was thorough and honest and I left feeling that I was going to get the best treatment possible - whether or not that's going to make a difference remains to be seen. I've also got an appointment with a doctor in a month so we can look at PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections if the other treatment hasn't had any effect by then.

No running. No running until my body starts to work properly again and there's no pain in certain areas. At least three weeks to start with. Merry Christmas.

Tonight, when I got home from the appointment, I was upset. The tears flowed. I had been so, so happy with how the year had ended up - everything had come together in the best way possible. And then, KA-BOOM, it blew up.

I know this sounds overly dramatic and I know in the overall scheme of the world it doesn't rate as a problem at all. But for me, in my little world, it is a big thing. I desperately want to hit some good times in 2013 and that's only going to happen if I can train properly. I made the really tough decision to withdraw from Ironman next year so I could continue to build on the progress I've made since August, and now I'm afraid all that progress is going to go down the drain and I'll be back to square one.

Forgive this post - the emotion is still a bit raw. There's no point feeling sorry for myself - nothing's achieved by that - so after giving myself tonight to be down in the dumps, tomorrow begins mission "lets-do-everything-possible-to-fix-this".

Shit shit shit shit shit.
Why can't these injuries go to people who don't want to run, huh?


  1. Hi Johanna,
    I had HHT for about 18 months (my fault for racing through it), and only saw the physio when it was much too late. Thorough strengthening and stretching (as advised by the physio) as well as the occasional massage/acupuncture session really helped to heal it. Three weeks might just be the amount of time that your body needs to consolidate the awesome gains you've made this year!
    Zac (annoying journo student, remember?)

  2. I have had this same injury for 10 months and counting. It sucks ass. Tears have been flowing for me for the last month nonstop. Arg.

  3. I have had this exact same injury for the last 10 months and it is still horrific. I have not run or biked since mid February. Nothing seems to be working for me. :(. Good luck to you.

    1. Hi Zac and K - everyone who's had this seems to go through so much frustration. It sucks because everyone has a different answer to the best way to treat it. Good luck K - I'll post all my findings on here in case they're of any help.

      And Zac, yes I remember you and you weren't annoying!

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  5. “Why can't these injuries go to people who don't want to run, huh?”—Because there’s a slim chance that they get that. Unlike us, they are not exposed to factors that heighten the chances of incurring injury doing strenuous activities. Anyway, you’re not alone since this is the common nemesis of sports active people like us. You can recover from this by having regular physical rehab to loosen up those tightly twisted muscles.

    Anita Rose

  6. I've had this since Aug 2013, it helps to read from others, but also depressing. Running was my one thing I loved more than anything. I'm terrified I will never get back. In PT, was able to run in Jan, maybe over did, maybe PT said lengthen your stride, regardless, back to all day pain no matter what. Can't seem to do any thing, even walking is bad, bike very bad, elliptical hurts my calfs due to new aline inserts. Just down, but thanks to all other for posting.

  7. I'm on year 8. Have asked my pain dr. if they could amputate my leg-YES,'s beyond frustrating. They've done things to me that have put my family in the poor house and I still can't sit or even think of exercise! Surgery after Surgery, PT after PT, accupuncture, hypnosis, u name it, I've done it. Come on Dr's, get to work!

  8. They say HHT is rare, but I don't believe it for one moment. I was told I had Piriformis, then told a hamstring strain, then the MRI 5 months post injury revealed nothing, yet there's still pain. Plenty of pain! I see blog after blog with HHT, so to say it's rare, is cockamamie. I've had all the symptoms and just realized on my own after 8 weeks of PT they my hip flexors on my OPPOSITE side are so weak and small compared to the pain side, that I don't know how the PR missed it! I'm exercising only the opposite side now, and guess what?? The pain has decreased some. This is a common injury and the sooner doctors accept that, the better treatment and recovery we afflicted fold will have!