Getting You To The Starting Line

Susan will be racing this weekend for the first time in 2 years. She’s feeling strong, confident, and eager to run after a week of reluctant tapering. Only 18 months ago, she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to race again. Doctors told her she needed to stop running, that running was something her body simply couldn’t handle. But with a little research and a lot of determination, she solved it. She figured out what pieces were missing in her training - and now she couldn’t wait for race day. In just days she’ll be feeling that nervous excitement once again, that feeling that only comes when standing in her corral at the race starting line.

Like Susan did 18 months ago, 56 percent of runners suffer an injury in any given year, one that keeps them from training. Of these injuries, up to 75 percent are due to overuse, in other words they didn’t come from a fall, they didn’t twist an ankle, rather, they approached their training incorrectly. This is an alarming number, because non-traumatic injuries are almost entirely preventable.

Susan, a long time runner in high-school, college and a competitive adult age group runner, experienced one of these overuse injuries. Like so many endurance athletes, she ran almost every day for as long as she could remember, with little time for strength training. She had always feared strength training would leave her heavy, tight and slow. After college, she combined her running and lack of strength training with a 9-to-5 desk job - not realizing this was a recipe for ITB strains, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and many other common overuse injuries. At 39 years old she was diagnosed with ITB Syndrome. Debilitating to her running, she felt pain and tenderness on the lateral part of her thigh and knee just above the joint. She quickly went from devoted, avid runner to not being able to run at all.

Running is her lifestyle, her passion - it is how she stays connected with her running community and how she stays healthy, active and in shape. When she saw doctors about the pain from her ITBS, doctors told her she just needed to stop running, rest and find other ways to be active. Indefinitely. Physical Therapists told her she had a very tight IT Band, muscular imbalances and flexibility issues caused by weak hips, glutes, lower back and pelvis. She was told that she needed to strengthen these areas as well as improve her flexibility and mobility - but then was sent on her way without a clear plan.

Susan had tried to strength train before but when she had, she felt lost. She had gone to the YMCA and 24 hour Fitness - they had everything she needed there but she did not have a plan or any guidance of what machines to use. She wasn’t sure which exercises would help her most with her running, or how to improve her mobility. And she wasn’t sure she knew how to do the exercises correctly without hurting herself or even worse not making the strength gains she needed so she could run again.

This is when she took matters into her own hands. She started to look for a strength coach, someone to guide her to success. After talking to one of her running friends about her frustrations they referred her to us. I asked her why she chose to come to Performance Strength Lab, here is what she said.

“I’m just tired of being injured I am ready to start to train and get stronger. My only other choice is to stop. I heard you and coach Mark have a lot of knowledge and are great coaches. I’ve been told that you are more than personal trainers and you provide Strength and Conditioning expertise specifically for athletes. My friend told me you both are runners and competitive athletes as well as coaches and you understand what I’m going through. It just seems you are my best choice to help me get back to being a runner again.”

Susan had two decisions.

One she could do what the doctors said, rest and not be active, hoping her injury would go away - so she could potentially repeat the process all over again.

Second she could solve her injuries permanently. She could seek out a team that understands the needs of endurance athletes - a team with a Strength and Conditioning Specialist, experienced endurance athletes, a Level 2 USA Triathlon and USA Weightlifting coaches to help. A team surrounded by a community of adult and youth athletes.

True to her nature - Susan chose to live the bigger life.

Today she not only enjoys her weekly runs, she is back to being part of the running community, she is stronger and more confident in herself. Her running has improved and she continues to strength train three times a week as part of her run training - injury free. Less than a year after finding Performance Strength Lab - she’s gotten herself back on the starting line.

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Van Mechelen W., "Running injuries. A review of the epidemiological literature." Sports Med. 14(5) (1992). 320-35. Pub. Med. 30 July 2014.Garmin. "Ground Contact." Garmin, 2014. 3 August 2014.

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