At the end of 2010, I learned that perhaps I pushed my body a little too much: 6 road races (5ks, 10ks, 1/2marathon), 2 Half Ironmans and 1 marathon. I guess it’s no wonder I ended up injured. Perhaps if I had been training hard for several years this wouldn’t have been a heavy load. But, that was not the case. I had completed a handful of events in the last few months of 2009 and I was feeling good. Needless to say, increasing the number of events and the distances of the events probably wasn’t the best idea. Maybe my body would have fallen apart down the road and I just accelerated the process. It doesn’t really matter. I needed to take off the next few months to rest and recover and to work on strengthening my body before getting back to racing.
I worked hard during the time off. First, I had to recover from the marathon. Once I was ready to start strengthening my body, I was off to physical therapy with Mike Beretta of Beretta Physical Therapy. Along with core exercises, hip exercises, I needed to change my running form. Mike helped me come up with a program that will help me for years to come. Since I couldn’t run right away, he also gave me a cycling program to help me with my general fitness.
At first, we had to address my SIJ “issue.” My hips would not stay aligned. This was very frustrating and painful. One of the reasons for the injury…..”issue,” was the lack of core strength. Having children and my age were factors that contributed to my weak midsection. But, I also spent very little time (next to nothing) on working out my midsection. So, I spent weeks strengthening this area and have become a believer and an advocate for core exercises.
Once I had strengthened my core (and it was just the beginning), I was ready to relearn how to run. By the way, I never realized that I was a heal striker. Being a heal striker can put more stress on your body which can also lead to injury. A change was needed.
Changing your running form isn’t an easy task. I had to start from the beginning. And, I mean beginning! 1 of my first workouts was to walk 2 minutes and then run 1 min for 5 times. The workouts were short, but meaningful. I started running on the treadmill. I don’t enjoy the treadmill, but knew it was the only place I could run for now. It was a great feeling when I finally went for a run outside. By April, I was feeling good. I was able to get out for a decent run, but I still wasn’t ready to race.
In addition to the change in my running form, I also needed additional foot support. Leading up to last year’s marathon, I visited Mike Beretta to help me fix my problem with my stressed tibia tendon. He was able to tape my foot and leg to get me through the marathon, but this was a short term solution. The only solution was to add custom orthotics to my already high stability running shoes. I was reluctant to add them, but once I had them and ran with them, I wished I had bought them years ago! In fact, I’m pretty sure the need for orthotics has been there since my high school running days.
Looking back, it’s amazing what I completed in 2011 even though it seemed like it took forever at the time. I’m happy to say that I now have some muscles in my mid section and I am a mid foot runner for the most part (Thank you Mike Beretta!). I will continue to work on my strengthening my core and my new form. Unfortunately, I find that when I am racing, I lose my new form at times. I just have to remember that it’s a work in progress.