Bolder, Better, faster, stronger
First off, I checked in with our partner Physical Therapist, Clay Sankey of TruMotion Therapy. I had done pretty well up to this point to avoid making it into Clay’s office, but this was the perfect time to break my duck and check in and get a fine tuning. I’d honestly spent the first week before visiting doing the dreaded Google search and trying out some different things to see if it helped my knee (spoiler alert, it didn’t) and I spent several nights dramatically stressing over if my running career was over or if I’d torn my meniscus as several articles had suggested. My visit with Clay put all that at ease.
We went through some basic movements, talked about the build up to the injury, what triggered it now, and things I’d already tried. Whilst performing some movements, Clay was able to identify that #1 I have terrible dorsiflexion (ankle flexibility) and weakness or fatigue in the quad muscles which attached to my knee. The good news was, this was all fixable (although not quickly). Clay gave me 2 key stretches I’d need to do several times each day. I love that it was just 2 as this was not overwhelming and definitely achievable for me and my schedule, and highlighted some strengthening exercises I’d need to continually do. Additionally, he gave me the green light to start some light running, with some restrictions, such as walking the start and end of the run and keeping any run short. I popped back in a week later to check on my progress and all was good for now. Has this fixed all my injuries problems? No, but it’s put me in the best position to tackle these issues early on in the hope I can put them to bed long term.
They also host a weekly run club (Saturday 7am) so they get runners and their programs fit nicely into a runner’s training cycle. The social part if also a big factor for me too as I personally enjoy working out with others. Note: I have a code for team members for a trail class, message me if you’re interested.
The temptation is to keep training after your goal race, to utilize that high level of fitness you’ve built up and channel it into another race, but there has to be a period of recovery. Your body is not invincible and it will break down at some point if you don’t give it the recovery and strengthening it needs and deserves. Did I lose my fitness over these past 4 weeks? Did I get slower? Absolutely, that’s part of the process. Here’s the part we often miss though, what did I gain?
My base is stronger so that my body is better equipped to handle more in my next training cycle. By targeting strength gains now, I’ll be able to focus on targeting different fitness adaptations later during my training cycle without overly stressing my body. If I was to introduce strength work in the middle of my cycle, while also looking to increase my mileage, I’d be double stressing my body with 2 different stimuli and this often results in injuries. I’m now also more aware of some mechanical issues that I can now address early on so they don’t become an issue down the line.
Outside of doing strength work during this recovery block, I was also able to strengthen relationships with friends and family, who often don’t get the attention they deserve during an intense training cycle and in the process earned myself some brownie points for those days I’ll be gone half the morning on a 20 mile run.
The key takeaway. It’s okay to take time off from running and prioritize other areas of your training. When your next training cycle ends, I encourage you to take a step back and look back on your training and see if you notice any areas you can improve in and invest some time in it. Don’t worry about the losses, focus on the benefits. Try it out, see what happens to your running during the following training cycle.