I’ve been in physical therapy for about three months now. I can’t believe it’s been that long! I honestly thought this would be a quicker fix than it has been, especially since my pain was completely gone when I finally got in to see Chris.
Despite how much I may complain about getting up early and still being in therapy, it has really been the best thing for my running. Yes, it’s taking a lot to get back into it or so it seems, but I feel so much stronger and determined.
I’ve never had somebody hear my latest crazy goals and ask me if I’m going to do another crazy thing. When I first started therapy, he heard me say I finished my 2nd half marathon and dropped 15 minutes off my time, it wasn’t just Oh, that’s great! It was also, Oh, that’s great! When are you signing up for your first marathon? When we talked about Jennie Hansen winning the Lake Placid Ironman, he was encouraging me that if I wanted to, that’s something I could do (complete an Ironman, not win one!)
I know that’s somewhat a job of somebody in that field, but just hearing it really helps.
Besides that, I gained a lot of exercises that really have helped strengthen my hip flexors (among other things). I always thought I had a great core. Plank? No problem. Breath from the diaphragm? Duh, I was a flute player for 15 years (and I guess I still am, even if I haven’t touched it in two). I’d look in the mirror and see a set of abs, so obviously my core is strong. How wrong I was!
I didn’t breath from my diaphragm when I ran, but I do now. Even when I’m out of breath, I’m still doing it. I didn’t keep my core tight during my runs, though I thought I did. Now I know what it feels like to maintain a strong core throughout the run.
I learned the proper way to foam roll, too. Apparently I shouldn’t have to foam roll for 45 minutes before getting out of it what I need. Now, I know how to properly target my trouble spots. I’ve also had drilled into me how I should be sitting in every situation (straight and supported). Of course, we all know that’s the way we should sit but when it’s been drilled into your head, you tend to abide by those rules. And let me tell you, I no longer have weird twinges in my hips or groin that I used to and my back is never sore after my desk job all day.
My running form was definitely all out of whack, which I knew. It’s still a little whacky — my right foot kicks out to the side during my stride. I don’t think that’ll ever change. But now I know how to lean forward from my ankles, push off from the ground, keep my core strong, breath from my diaphragm and land under my center of gravity creating a form that will make me more efficient, stronger, and ultimately a less injury prone, quicker, better runner.
It’s all things you think you know. You read about it in Runners World, Running Times, Competitor Magazine, etc. but do you really know? I didn’t.
I’ve learned running specific exercises to concentrate on that leg lift. I’ve learned that I need to love the stair machine as a type of cross training because it mimics the act of lifting your leg in the middle of your stride. I’ve learned how to properly warm-up and cool-down, as well as how to incorporate certain drills in my running to maintain efficiency, particularly some fun plyometrics to help with my speed.
I’m convinced I could have been finished with physical therapy over a month ago, but each week I come back with a new question or scenario which provokes a new set of exercises. It’s like having my insurance pay for a coach to get me through to my next training cycle, who also makes sure I’m not injuring myself.
And then there’s the fact that he’s kind enough where if I have a question in between sessions (or after I “graduate”), he’s a quick text away. I almost think getting injured after that killer half was a blessing in disguise.
I was planning to make this a post about all the exercises I’ve learned over the past three months as a reference for myself, but I rambled enough. Looks like I’ll be turning that into few broken up posts!