A Gorgeous Spring Day, In Pictures

Nothing new to report here, but I was in my friend’s wedding last weekend and got to go for a run with my best friend the next morning. My husband isn’t a runner, so he rented a Divvy bike from the bikeshare and biked alongside us as we ran.

It was a gorgeous Spring day! I only had 6 miles on the schedule, but it would’ve been a perfect day to run longer. This was my first time running along the Lakefront Trail in Chicago, despite growing up here, and I’ve never seen the lake so blue. Sharing some pictures to celebrate the arrival of Spring.

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Prehab, Calf Knots, and Why I Love Physical Therapy

After a two-week break from running because of shin pain on a couple of runs, I had an appointment with my physical therapist, Todd. Todd is the same therapist who worked with me before my goal half marathon last fall and made sure I didn’t end up in a walking boot again from training incorrectly. He is extremely knowledgeable, and I ask him a lot of random questions when I see him:

Am I wearing these calf sleeves correctly? Can I wear them over the knee, like a fashionable full-leg sleeve, or nah?

Can I use the foam roller on my shins too, or is that weird?

Is Pilates really working or am I just wasting my time?

Sometimes, and I’ll be the first to admit this, we treat our medical professionals (especially those who are athletes treating athletes) as though they are all-knowing oracles with supreme insight into every aspect of our running futures. I feel a little silly when I do this, but it never hurts to ask questions and it beats freaking out and Googling every ache to death.

During our visit, Todd was able to point out a few hits and misses with my last three months of running, and it was reassuring to talk to him as I head into spring and summer training. Here’s what I had been doing well:

  • Running consistently throughout the winter, with at least one run outside each week. A good mix of treadmill and pavement runs made the transition to more outdoor mileage in nicer weather much easier on my joints, tendons, and muscles.
  • Wearing the right shoes. Asics GT-1ooo/2000 are the shoes that were made for my flat feet, and the gel-cushion inserts I have work really well for my foot type.
  • Steady mileage build-up. I built up my weekly miles very carefully, avoiding wild swings and building in enough time for recovery.

Areas for improvement:

  • Not enough targeted strength training. I have a very strong back and quads, but I need to work on my hips and glutes. These two areas are the first to give out on longer runs, leading my body to overcompensate and overuse other areas.
  • Recovery. I need to do more foam-rolling and icing after exercising, and wear compression during and after my runs.
  • Replacing my shoes! This is huge. I will wear the same shoes until I log about 500 miles on them. Applying this rule of thumb to someone with very unique needs (flat feet) doesn’t exactly work, as I am a bit harder on my shoes and wear through them more quickly than the average runner with more pronounced arches. I should rotate a couple of pairs as well.

My physical therapist also found a giant knot in my left calf muscle – I had no idea it was there. After some targeted massage work, I felt like I had a new pair of legs! I’m glad that I visited and had someone else look at my biomechanics so I can stay healthy and continue to train. I have some big running goals – they even scare me a little – but it’s wise to do some prehab work and regular check-ins with a physical therapist even when I’m not seriously hurt, before a small issue turns into something larger. One of my favorite running blogs, Run Selfie Repeat, has a great post on why physical therapy is beneficial.

 

Do you currently see a physical therapist? Have you ever visited one?