Back in late May, after a long day of climbing and hiking, I was feeling pretty stretched out and awesome. So awesome that I knew for a fact- knew -that I could do the splits on both sides. And I just had to do them. I cannot explain why I had this urge or what prompted it. But I just absolutely had to do them. I had not done the splits since I was maybe...11?
And success was mine. I felt like a boss. Until Jon and I both heard a very, very loud pop. Nothing hurt. Nothing felt wrong. Until I stood up- at which point, I realized rather quickly that something had happened to my left hamstring. It was sort of understood that yes... I hurt my leg. But don't talk about it. Just ignore it. That popping noise wasn't a big deal.
My leg kept feeling worse every day. For about a week, every single day, the pain was longer lasting and more sharp. From the back of my mid thigh all the way up to my butt. It hurt to walk, jump, lift, climb...sit. Everything hurt it. As it turns out, I tore my hamstring pretty severely. Because I had to do the splits. For another couple of weeks I was in denial about this. And I tried to stay very active and go about business as usual. But that had to stop. Because it was getting more painful. What had to happen was hard to wrap my head around. And that is that I had to stop doing what I love. I had to quit climbing, HIIT training, powerlifting, running, strenuous backpacking and endless walking. Really. These things are my identity in so many ways. It was a difficult situation to accept. And everyone who is athletic or passionate about physical pursuits gets injured and needs to take time off. Every single person. But you always assume it wont happen to you. Until it does. And then you very quickly realize how addicted you are to the endorphin's of working out. To the extra food it allows you to eat. To the things you share with others. It all goes away. And it sucks.
I took the summer and most of the fall off. Jon and I still did a lot of backpacking and hiking, but that was it. We would climb here and there, but nothing fell in place properly. I could feel the lack of strength and my leg would tire out quickly. My grip strength diminished immensely. I tried to stay fit through yoga and walking when I felt less sore. But almost always, my leg would just feel totally exhausted, with a dull ache. Somewhere between very annoying pain and very sharp ache at any given time. It was very hard to stay happy during hard times. Being able to express myself physically was not an option. And I became so thankful for my photography for keeping me busy. Without it, I don't know what I would have done.
To take care of my hamstring, other than rest, I iced it often and took some adaptogens, along with a very good nutritious diet. I tried to stay positive, even during the most discouraging times. Around August I tried pushing a little more to see where the healing was at, and was unhappy with how little had changed. But it was clear that at the very least, it was in fact healing. And even a tiny bit of healing gives a little hope to full recovery.
After over two more months, I can say that I am in a good place. I am not totally healed. But I am no longer injured. I have a loss of strength that needs some (a lot of) rebuilding. It's a strange and frustrating feeling to go back to the activities you love as somewhat of a beginner. My powerlifting has obviously suffered, but today I was able to pull 245lbs on a deadlift. My climbing is nowhere near where it was, but I am back to climbing and will keep at it. I can't run as fast as I used to, but the love and the distance is still around. And the backpacking? Better than ever. Something I have now that I didn't have the first time I was a beginner is my knowledge. So much of any physical pursuit is the mental aspect. The things you pickup along the journey- proper form, how things should feel, how your body reacts, rest days, proper fueling, tips and tricks that you learn from trying. And failing. The gifts time gives you.
My hamstring is coming back to life. And I believe it will be stronger. And that I will be stronger at every sport I passionately love. As much as it kills me to say, in some ways this has been an important lesson in appreciating my body and appreciating everything I have. It has been humbling. And this injury has only inspired me to try harder.
I don't exactly know why I deemed this a necessary post for my blog. It isn't a fitness blog, but it is about my life. And I would not be able to do any of the beautiful things I do without a very high baseline of fitness. My body and health allow me to travel to magnificent places and survive in extreme conditions. By pushing physical limits I expand my world completely. Mentally, creatively, with kindness. And I am just so overjoyed to begin feeling complete again. Look out for my adventures. They are going to be bigger and more glorious than before.