Last fall, I volunteered as a mentor for the Fit-tastic walk-to-run program sponsored by The Athlete’s Foot in Raleigh’s Cameron Village. It was the same program that had resuscitated my running career a year earlier (and the one I had written about a year before that while still at The News & Observer). Mentoring, I figured, was the least I could do for a program that had helped reunite me with a love lost for more than 20 years.
“That first 200 was pretty good,” Tim said as he followed me on his bike, “but you need to pick it up for the last 400.”
Right, I gasped to myself. And you can pick up my lung when I cough it up.
It was my first “coached” running workout and a whirlwind of thoughts rushed through my oxygen-deprived brain as I did the third of my four prescribed 600-meter sprints (bookended by a pair of 1,000-meter dashes). Will I be seeing that tuna wrap I had for lunch again? was foremost. Why am I doing this? was a close second. By “this,” I meant hiring, at age 54, a coach to drive me, push me and to make my body feel like it hadn’t since I’d last crossed paths with a coach in high school some 35 years ago.
“Squeeze your butt and take full steps,” Kpop (a k a Karley Poplestein), 02 Fitness trainer by day/walking coach by early evening instructed as we began walking from The Athlete’s Foot in Cameron Village to the nearby Rose Garden. That’s a … curious request, I thought. Fortunately, before I could reach behind and grab my buns while taking full steps I noticed my cowalkers were clinching their gluteus maximus, not palming them.
Finally, the exciting conclusion to our hamstring injury! (Guilty of hyperbole. Let’s proceed.)
OK, a hamstring injury isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t have the cache of, say, an ACL injury. But it’s common among weekend warriors. Don’t warm up, go out too fast — ping! — there’s a debilitating snap in the back of your leg. A muscle snap that if you ignore can hobble you for weeks. First, a look at how to avoid irritating your hamstring in the first place.