This is a question that I’m asked quite frequently when people learn about the amount of miles I cover in a training cycle and during an ultrarunning event. I want to take a moment to address this question. My hope is that readers can gain insight on injury mitigation from my experience as an athlete.
Throughout my ultrarunning endeavors I have been fortunate to never experience any traumatic or majorly debilitating injury. For this, I consider myself VERY lucky. I have also been extremely fortunate to have some incredible injury mitigating resources at my disposal.
One of the best things I have done as an amateur athlete has been investing in professional care. I think of my body as a “human machine”, of sorts. In order for my body to keep conquering challenges and running at it’s optimal efficiency – I learned quickly that I had to tend to it with love, care, and intention. Fueling appropriately – very important! Resting appropriately- also very important! Receiving EXCELLENT professional “tune-up’s” – tremendously important. More on that later.
As an amateur ultrarunner – some of what I have done has been a sort-of, “trial and error” process. Every runner and endurance athlete is different – so I find it helpful to encourage my fellow endurance junkies to take the same approach. However, it’s also useful to take advice from other runners who have experienced the trials and errors and determined a successful approach to them.
2019 was by far my craziest adventure year yet! I completed 5 ultramarathon distances in a calendar year. I ran four 50 mile trail races and one 100 mile trail event! It was certainly an adventure and a year filled with memories. However, as I am sure you can imagine, my body took a significant amount of trauma during the never-ending training and race cycle that elapsed in those 12 months. Again, my saving grace was investing in top notch care – to keep my body fine tuned – like an expensive European automobile 😉!
I had the incredible fortune of meeting Dr. Kari Chappel, a local and EXPERT Physical therapist. Dr. Kari works for T-Zero Physio in Broomfield, Colorado. It was within one visit that I knew our fortuitous meeting was not by chance but by design. She was EXACTLY what I needed to keep chasing my wild running dreams. At my first appointment I learned that T-Zero is a specialized clinic that utilizes modern techniques to keep athletes and active people ACTIVE. In my past experiences with PT’s I was often given the advice to “rest” or “take time off”. If you know my personality – you know that “resting” is a whole other type of challenge that I don’t generally take on unless absolutely necessary. Within two visits Dr. Kari and Dr. Kevin (T-Zero owner) determined the exact hip miss-alignment that was causing my mild right ankle discomfort. Now, I knew at the time that my ankle was troubling me. Not enough to take me out of a race, or stop me from training. But, I feared that if I let the discomfort persist that I could experience a much more catastrophic injury – over time.
On a side note, another weapon or tool that is useful when combating injury is body awareness. It’s easy to tune out minor aches and pains. In fact, as an UltraRunner, you basically train yourself to do just that. However, it is important also channel your physiological awareness to understand what sensations could potentially turn into something worse.
Dr. Kevin is also an endurance athlete. Key factor here being – HE UNDERSTANDS! It was so helpful and refreshing to find two therapists that acted with understanding, empathy, and provided an amazing treatment plan that gave me amazing results. Part of my treatment included a full running analysis. This gave all three of us insight into the minor imbalances that (over many thousands of miles) could equate to major problems. The running analysis was a GAME CHANGER. Not only could I see (in slow motion) the imbalances in my striking and gate – I was also given a roadmap to make my stride more efficient.
Is a running analysis right for you and who is qualified to give one? These are great questions. I would say that if your goals for life and fitness include ANY running at all – you should ABSOLUTELY invest in a running analysis. If your goal is to go the distance and avoid injury – it will help you immensely . If your goal is to crush a PR or get faster – it will give you priceless intel on working toward a more efficient stride. If your goal is to stay healthy and fit in the safest way possible – it is crucial to your success. Nowadays, some running stores offer a type of “running analysis” – however, from experience – I would recommend investing in an analysis from a professional physical therapist with a thorough understanding of running mechanics and physiology. A running store can suggest a type of shoe for you to purchase – not methods and practices to reach your goals! Best of all, my amazing Doctors at T-Zero give running analyses to ALL CLIENTS OF ALL SKILL AND FITNESS LEVELS! They can even do this remotely and prescribe a treatment plan that will help you reach your goals. For more details – follow the link below:
The results from my initial treatment at T-Zero were SO incredible that, even though my ankle pain is GONE (after 5 visits) I continue seeing Dr. Kari for semi-regular sessions to keep me a well-oiled running machine. Dr. Kari employs trigger-point dry needling techniques which yield an INCREDIBLE return on investment. This is a technique that works – if you have the RIGHT therapist to perform it. It is NOT a gimmick and I honestly don’t know where I would be without Kari’s expert administration of needles. It has provided instant relief for many muscle discomforts and minor ailments. I have also hear miraculous stories of it’s positive effects on more serious injuries.
If you have something that is troubling you – or you just want to become the strongest, most efficient version of yourself – I urge you to do as I did and invest in an amazing PT. After, again, some trial and error I finally found a clinic and doctor that aligned with needs and goals and DELIVERED. To be honest, this can be sort-of a needle in a haystack. I hate to say it but, all PT’s are not created equal. If you aren’t sure where to start please reach out to me OR the amazing Doctors at T-Zero Physio. They provide Telehealth, too!
Cheers to continuing to chase your wildest dreams, and running toward the best version of yourself you can be. As always, don’t settle for anything short of greatness!