From Setback to Comeback: How to Get Started Running After an Adductor Strain

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If you could have any super power, what would it be? This question has always been easy for me to answer: to be invincible in all physical activity and thereby avoid the anguish of injury or fatigue. Unfortunately, our bodies are not invincible and can only take so much before they “break.” While a forced break is an unwelcome experience, they are a common occurrence that many of us face in our running journeys.

For the next four weeks, one of our in-house runners is going to share their experience with a setback to show how they overcame forced time away from their beloved sport. Even though each of our stories is different, there is a sense of community and understanding among runners when it comes to empathizing with our fallen comrades. To those of you suffering through a setback, you are not alone, and we feel your pain … literally.


Meet Sean. Sean is a 25-year-old competitive runner averaging 80 miles per week. He enjoys running on hard-packed trails, primarily with some hills involved. His favorite local running spots are the Cal Poly Canyon Loop and the Montana De Oro Bluff Trail. Sean runs competitive races where he’s going for the win or a PR in whatever distance he’s running.



What caused you to take a break from running? Approximately how much time were you away from running?

Sean:  I strained my adductor muscle, basically the muscle that connects the hip to the groin. It kept me out of running completely for about 3 months.

Were you able to do any other kinds of fitness activities? If so, what did you do?

Sean: I tried aqua jogging, but I hate pool activities. I would occasionally do elliptical, but it got terribly boring. A lot of the fitness activities I did involved rehabbing my injury and strengthening my body.

How did this running break affect you emotionally?

Sean: It sucked. Honestly, this injury was the first one to sideline me for more than a day or two, and it was devastating. I had just graduated from Cal Poly after running for basically 7 years straight without any setbacks and had no idea how to handle it. The first few days were tough. It was very frustrating to wake up with discomfort every day. It got much better once I had a rehab plan in place and a talented trainer to work with. All in all, I think it really helped me transition into having a full time job because it’s not easy to have both a full time job and run every day. Not having to do that right out of college was a blessing in disguise.

Can you briefly explain the progression of your comeback? Did you ease into it?

Sean: After a rigorous 3 months of strengthening every muscle in my body (I’d do lunges, squats, pushups, ab workouts, pull-ups, kettle bell swings, the works) and doing rehab exercises on my adductor area, I started running 20 minutes a day every other day at a slow pace. Huge relief. Every week, I’d do just a little more than the week before, 20 minutes every other day, 30 minutes every other day, 30 minutes 5 days a week, etc., until I was able to get back on my usual training plan with workouts and all.

How long did this process take you (from start of comeback until you felt fully fit again)?

Sean: I wasn’t fully fit for about 6 months. I felt ready to do my first race 7 months after the onset of the injury, and it went spectacularly! No pain at all. To this day I still do various strengthening workouts on a daily basis to keep everything in check.

Any advice or encouragement you can offer to other runners that are sidelined?

Sean: Patience. Think about the big picture. It’s really easy to be pissed off because you have plans for how you want things to be, and you think whatever race or goal you have been training for was the end all, be all, and this injury is ruining your life. It sucks, but you look back, and you learn a lot from the hardships that you go through. It makes you a more well rounded individual by the end of it. It also could end up helping other people you know that might go through a similar thing later on. Remember that plans don’t always go according to plan. Be thankful when they do, and accept when they don’t.

Thank you, Sean for explaining your struggle and how you became a stronger and wiser runner as a result.

*This is our shared experience. Please note that we are not doctors and encourage you to take the advice from a trained professional with expertise concerning your particular ailment.

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Jenny is a marathon mom in every sense of the word. Not only does she run marathons, but she is constantly running around with her two kids, helping to teach them the value of an active lifestyle.

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