Double dose of therapy

My therapy run on the hills near Rollag, Minn., began as the sun began to drop below the horizon last night.

Tim and I set foot on the country road – my first time back on these large hills since late last year. I’ve run lots of hills, but not these whoppers. These aren’t your gentle rolling hills, and charging up the steep inclines will burn the lungs and throat in a hurry. The first 2 miles were a shock to the system.

Twice on the out-and-back route, horses trotted toward us. Apparently they aren’t used to seeing people running on the road. As daylight burned into night, we found ourselves plodding along in the crisp evening air. With no traffic, and just gravel beneath us, we ran by the light of the night sky. It served as great mental therapy.

This morning, my focus turned to physical therapy, and I headed down to Innovis Health to meet with Heidi, my physical therapist. I had no idea what to expect, or what I’d learn.

Normally, I’m pretty cynical, but everything she told me matched up with my personal experience. In short, I am a mess: poor posture and gait, along with one side taking a heavier pounding than the other. My muscles simply don’t want to relax, and there are some significant muscle imbalances.

She showed me some exercises and stretches that should help significantly, but it will be a work in progress. And I buy into what she told me as it makes sense; my personal experience and history of chiropractic care and muscle aches are supporting evidence that I need to balance my muscle strength and flexibility. It will only make me a better runner – hopefully for the Chicago Marathon, undoubtedly long term. And that’s why I am going to a physical therapist: not only to rehab from my injury, but to become a better runner.

There’s been a lot recently in running publications about form; there’s even a minor controversy about whether Dathan Ritzenhein, a U.S. Olympic marathoner, should change his form. If elites like Ritzenhein are tweaking their form, then how much more appropriate is it for everyday athletes? I’d argue it is more important for those looking to improve their performance. So I’ll be researching and experimenting more with running form, mechanics and efficiency in the future as I continue on my running journey.

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