Mid-February I started going to a new Physical Therapy practice – known for fixing the troubled ones. His practice does things very differently from anywhere I’ve ever gone before. I got the go ahead to keep running and biking, but to shut everything else down. No Barre, no Pilates, no strength work at all (wait what?!) except for 2-4 very focused exercises that I do multiple times a day between visits. We started with breathing techniques (actually using my diaphragm to breathe) and have moved into bird dogs, shifted hip clamshells, etc… I go every 2 weeks to make it more manageable (he’s 2 hours roundtrip + PT appointment time).
My goodness has it been hard.
And it’s working.
And I’m being patient.
And getting frustrated.
But it’s working.
And I feel stronger.
And my confidence is coming back.
I’m weak, I’ve always been weak (but really I’m strong?) and my injuries have always been tied to significant imbalances (weaknesses). Every appointment starts with my stating how things are feeling – what feels iffy, what’s improved and any triggers to pain, etc. We go through a movement screen at the beginning of every appointment which they then build my appointment based upon (my first appointment was a full movement screen).
I don’t move right and it’s somewhat astounding how I’ve managed to run 4 marathons, 1 50K and 20 half marathons without having proper range of motion (ROM) in my hip – if you ever see me, ask me to bend backwards. It will be clear as day what I mean when you see how my body works to
achieve attempt this.
I usually get seen by 1 PT but a 2nd one always comes in to evaluate/assess/commend me on my progress. I love this about them – sometimes they disagree, talk about it and then reach a conclusion about what should be done at this appointment. They also do a really good job at recognizing that I’m willing to do what it takes, but need a bit of positive reinforcement and reassurance because it can be frustrating. They understand things from the athlete mindset (because they are athletes) which is key.
I’ve had a few setbacks, I messed up my pelvic alignment running intervals on a curved uphill access road during track in March. It cost me some runs, some mileage and PT focused on my pelvis for a while. And then this past weekend, I fell on my bike. First time on the road and I just couldn’t clip out fast enough. It cost me a bit of pride, some road rash and an irritated hip. And it cost starting my 10 mile race the next day. I could have run the race, I think but I couldn’t run inside – my form was compromised and hammering down on my body for 10 miles with an achy body and bad form? I took the DNS for the sake of the future.
We all have setbacks, I’m not naive enough to believe I won’t have any more, however I’m focused on making better choices and avoiding the setbacks I have control over. I’m thinking 6 months down the road these days, not 6 hours, 6 days or 6 weeks. The return of the marathon to my life – I hope. If I do the things I need to do I will be toeing the start line of a marathon in October.
So I’ve taken to the trails a bit, it’s been really good for me to relax and enjoy the beautiful trails we have nearby. I don’t worry about the pace, I enjoy the miles and concern myself with proper form and not falling. It’s been exactly what I need. I even signed up for my longest trail race to date in May (6.1 miles). Nice, not-so-easy trail runs mixed in with road miles, track intervals and some bike miles is keeps me balanced.
And this past Friday, I got the clearance to bring back everything that was eliminated from my routine in February. 2 PTs evaluated my squats, push-ups, planks, etc and gave me guidelines for what I need to watch for. After 10 weeks of restrictions, I am ecstatic to do squats again…wait, what? I don’t even know who I am anymore.
It’s easy to get frustrated, and trust me I have. My coach has been really supportive, helpful and willing to listen to me vent/cry/throw a fit and then say “Listen this is what we need to do. You will do everything you want to do, but this needs to happen first…” An outside perspective always helps so much – I may be a coach, but I can’t coach myself through this rough patch – I can’t see it from objectively from outside of my own perspective. Meaning I’m too hard on myself…imagine that.
Operation Get Strong, Go Long is in full effect. And patience does build character. Grit through the tough patches and you will be mentally stronger.