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The Road Less Traveled

For a long time now, I’ve considered myself a runner. Pretty much everybody knows this about me. But I call myself a runner at the sake of what? Tendonitis? Strained hip flexors? Stress fractures? Hips that pop enough to make me think I’m well on my way to arthritis? These are all ailments that I’ve suffered from, and last Saturday after my 15 mile run and the really painful tendonitis that followed the next day, I was finally able to say out loud, I’m tired of hurting.

You see running has been such a mental and physical addiction for me for a long time. But unfortunately, I’ve never really been able to step back and ask the very important question why? Why do these injuries always follow me? Sometimes I think I have it figured out. One day yoga will become my new friend, or I’ll focus on an improved arm swing, or I’ll spend so much time in the pigeon pose that I think my body is actually healed. Wrong. These stretches and small adjustments do not answer the fundamental question of why? Why am I weak? Where? How does my form break down after X amount of mileage? What starts to compensate for what? What role do strong back, shoulder, hip, leg, an abs play in my running? How capable are my muscles of handling the stress of running so much?

If you’ve ever heard the expression you have to learn to crawl before you can walk, this is the point where I am right now.  I’m starting from scratch. And here’s how…

Yesterday, while doing some research on unilateral exercises, I came across this guy…

al kavadlo

Al Kavadlo. If I had to describe him, I would simple say pure beast. And not beast like he’s so big with all his big muscles. I’m talking a beast of pure strength with the ultimate level of functional fitness. One of the most interesting things about Kavadlo’s approach to training is he uses nothing but his body weight to develop his incredible level of fitness. No barbells, no dumbbells, no kettlebells. Just a park with some bars and his own weight. For some reason, this really resonates with me and it has provided me with a new insight to strength training… a much more functional approach. As I get back to the basics, I will take on Mr. Kavadlo’s philosophy to fitness. (You can actually read it here.)

The second resource I will be using to help me build myself back up from ground zero is a book my cousin suggested to me a few months ago, Becoming a Supple Leopard. The way Dan described it to me was a book that teaches you the importance of learning to stand properly, sit properly, engage your core, etc. And when I saw it at Barnes and Noble today, I quickly learned it was practically an encyclopedia of knowledge on biomechanics, how to correct your form, how to discover your weaknesses, how to use training as a diagnostic tool, and how to get your body to be the machine it was made to be.  I only had time to read the introduction, but it made me realize one very important fact. With my rate of injuries and how I push myself for the sake of miles and workouts, my body is ticking time bomb that can not continue this way.  I have run my body into a myriad of imbalances and weaknesses that need to be corrected before I can really focus on my running goals. Here is a resource to help me get there.

Of course this is not the road that I would like to be headed down right now. However, the fact of the matter remains the same. My  body is not functioning the way it was designed to. It’s off balance. It’s weak. The muscles are tight and the tendons are swollen. Yes, I’m still planning to run Chicago in October but I have no time goal. I’m just excited to be going. One month later I’ll be running the Las Vegas Marathon for the Multiple Myeloma Foundation (check it out here!), and I’m planning to register for Boston 2014 on September 13.  But again, my goals are not about time right now. They are about getting my body back to a place of balance and strength.

And I am happy to report that two days of intense body weight exercises, my back has discovered muscles it never knew existed. 🙂 This could be fun.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


P.S. This was the inspiration for the title. You really should watch it. It’ll make you smile, I promise.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Hi Tracie! This is awesome. I know as runners we are sometimes doggedly determined to pursue our goals at whatever the cost. But when the cost to your body outweighs the attainment of your goals (or PR’s, and there is always another PR to achieve) it seems unbalanced. I’m so excited about your functional fitness workouts — Kavaldo totally seems like a beast. What fun.
    I also wholly agree that biomechanics are of the utmost importance -probably because I am someone who’s body shows its weaknesses quickly. Just last week my coach pointed out that (my hyper flexible shoulder blade positions things such that) my arm crosses over my body way more than I ever expected. When I made a conscious and minor correction to always keep my hand OUT more than I think would be comfortable I was amazed at how much efficient and how much energy I saved on a longer run.
    Keep doing all these great things. You are inspirational!

    September 3, 2013

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