I decided this week to go for something that I have thought about for quite a while…. some professional help. Professional running help that is – there’s no fixing the rest of me ;).
I have been running for a good number of years – and most of them with pretty poor mechanics, which are finally starting to take their toll. Besides the knee, I have had nagging problems with my (weak, feeble) hips that have made some of my long runs (especially last year’s Vermont 50) pretty miserable experiences. I’ve been back to running for a few weeks now with no pain, but also with the nagging suspicion (i.e. total fact) that my (haphazard at best) approach to training is just not going to cut it. Not only in trying to prepare for this 100, but overall – I’m not exactly old, but I’m no spring chicken anymore when it comes to running and my compensation mechanisms are wearing thin. It’s time to pinpoint my problem areas and FIX – not just give them the shifty eye, pretend they don’t exist, and run away from them (literally). I plan to be running for a good long time…. but I’m going to need some help to keep it up.
This grand idea was all well and good in theory… but the thought of how I was going to be able to correct a pattern of movement that has been ingrained in me for years was completely overwhelming (which is probably why I chose the shifty-eyed avoidance approach for so long…. way easier to give your wonky knee a dirty look and keep on truckin’, than it is to confront that little bastard, and all of its weak and poorly-moving attached friends). This is where the fine and capable gentlemen at Pursuit Athletic Performance come in.
I headed on down to see the duo behind Pursuit Athletic Performance, Al Lyman and Kurt Strecker, yesterday to have them do a gait analysis and movement screen to see what is really going on when I run, and most importantly – how to fix it!
I had no idea what to expect heading down there, except I knew some of it would involve a treadmill and a video camera. So really, my only thoughts were… A. “I really hope I don’t fall off the treadmill on camera” and B. “I really hope I don’t look like (a clothed version of) ‘Frank the Tank‘ when I’m running on camera”. (or worse yet, C. – falling off the treadmill while looking like Frank the Tank…. shudder).
I am happy to report that none of the above happened. My session at Pursuit was fantastic! I went through a series of different movements, observed by the watchful eyes of Al and Kurt who noted all of my weak and wobbly areas (with plenty of laughs in between). This, coupled with the analysis of my gait on the treadmill, led to a detailed initial plan (involving a lot of balancing, posture fixing, and giant rubber bands) to strengthen and stabilize the areas of concern with the ultimate goal to improve my gait, endurance, and down the road, speed.
I nodded along intently at the explanation of everything we had done, super happy with my decision to go through with this and very excited at the prospect of having some dedicated guidance to get me through what I need to do. Then they dropped the bomb on me…. No running for 3-4 weeks while I go through this initial phase of “retraining” my muscles to function as they should.
Here’s how I remember that conversation…. Al was patiently taking me through the explanations of what we did and what we need to do. Then, I heard “no running during this part”… I think at that point I may have had a small seizure, or possibly blacked out? I know his lips were moving but I’m not sure I heard any words. I had a moment of sweaty panic and I think I squeaked out something about…. “what about the Vermont 100?”. But after settling down and processing the basis behind this “requirement”, I know it makes good sense. I can not improve my strength and retrain my muscles to do what they are supposed to if I don’t break my old habits. And my running form is an old habit for me. So, if I run…. all my hard work on the other end will essentially be for nothing (well, not that dramatic, but I definitely won’t see the true results I want). So, I’m taking a leap of faith and going for this. So far (day 2) I haven’t completely lost it…. we’ll see how this goes. In the meantime I’ll be substituting cycling and hiking for my cardio and outdoor time. It’ll do.
I can’t say enough good things about my experience at Pursuit. Al and Kurt are great, caring professionals who dedicate their time to make their clients be the very best they can. I’m very excited to have made this connection, and to see where this all takes me! I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of wonderful people who have helped to support me through all of my crazy running – I’m happy to say I’ve added two more to the bunch!