I’ve had an epiphany recently about how important strength training is for runners and triathletes. It’s written about, but unfortunately, sometimes I need to experience it for myself in order to learn.
Because of a move out-of-state, I didn’t run (or do anything) between January & April of last year. I started running again in May. It was great and I didn’t have any IT band pain, which surprised me (something I struggled with the entire previous year). A few weeks into my new running regimine, I ran on a track. My achilles pain started the next day. For months I ran in pain. Finally, in August I tried KT tape, some rest and heel lifts in my shoes. I worked temporarily, I ran pain-free for a few weeks.
After an uneventful, normal run I was in tremendous pain again. I could barely even walk. KT tape made it worse. Tried accupuncture with no luck. After a few weeks of limping, I realized this was not run-of-the-mill tendonitis and made an appointment with the doctor.
I was prepared for crutches and even surgery. He gave me physical therapy. I was kind of mad, he didn’t even do an MRI to asses the extent of the damage. I don’t care if it seemed not as bad as other cases he saw, it was bad for me!
Just days after starting stretches and exercises with my PT, I was walking without limping for the first time in two months. I was shocked.
I started P90X and my PT kept giving me new exercises to do. It became extremely clear how weak my muscles throughout my whole body were. And my right leg (with my bad ankle) was WAAAAY weaker than my left.
Then my doctor sent me to PT for some back pain I was having. Poor posture in front of the computer all day at work and weak back muscles were the culprit. Again, we found that the right side was worse off than the left. My PT also found that my left rib cage was higher than my right. Probably a symptom of breathing only on my right side.
I was all coming together and making sense. It was all connected.
Both strength and flexibility were important to my recovery. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without both.
Four months later, I’m finally starting to run again. It’s more of a walk/run and only a few miles, but its a start. And I think I can actually be ready for my 70.3 in August.
Long story short: Be strong, work each side independently to prevent muscle imbalances, stretch for real (not superficially). If you start having pain, see a professional right away. It IS possible to fix persistent running injuries permanently.