I am a competitive athlete and I understand runners. I grew up immersed in the music world as a trumpet player and did not find a love for sports until my early twenties, when I bought my first downhill mountain bike and went crashing (literally) onto the racing scene. I turned out to have a knack for mountain biking and spent several years racing every kind of bike I could get my hands on. In my late twenties I decided to try a triathlon while attempting to overcome my fear of the water and inability to swim. I made it through the race and was immediately hooked on endurance sports. As I competed in Ironman triathlons over the next few years, I ended up with running injury after running injury due to my lack of running background and acclimation to the sport. I looked for help on my biomechanics and running technique but was quickly frustrated with the lack of resources available. I decided to learn as much as I could about running biomechanics, not only to help myself but also to help my patients. I was quickly realizing a love for solving complex running-related injuries and the need for increased focus on movement patterns in the healthcare industry. I began looking at every patient’s mechanics as part of their assessment, whether they were runners or not.
At one point, after moving to Austin in 2012, I found myself in an orthopedist’s office as I was trying to figure out whether I had any structural damage to my knee following an old bike accident. I had searched high and low for an orthopedist who was a runner, thinking I would be able to talk shop with him and discuss any biomechanical limiters that may be causing this occasional flare-up (which, I should add, was never triggered by running but by cycling, even during the worst flare-ups). I remember the moment he looked at my MRI results as I waited expectantly, excited to work with him on a plan for my knee. I remember like it was yesterday the deflated feeling as he turned to me and said exactly this: “I don’t see anything wrong with your knee. What you need to do is stop running and take up cycling. Running is really bad on the knees”. The most frustrating part? he didn’t talk about rehab, or working on strength deficits, or gait, or anything related to helping me continue the sport that was keeping me healthy, both physically and mentally. It was at that exact moment I knew what I had to do. I threw his card in the garbage, ran 9 miles home from my appointment, and started RunLab.
Humans are meant to run. Study after study has shown that running isn’t bad for your knees, INACTIVITY is bad for your knees. Runners have less arthritis and healthier knees than non-runners, and yet we continue to hear that running is bad for you. I am always a work in progress, but since working on my mechanics and strengthening some of my weak areas I have been able to fully participate in the sport I love more than anything: adventure racing. I have competed in 12-72 hour races for the last 10 years without injury. I run 50-80 miles per week and have brought my race pace down from 10:30s to 6:30s without injury. I continue to PR, finish on the podium, and get faster into my forties. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back, I say this because if I can do it as a trumpet-playing kid with no athletic background, I promise you that you can too. Sometimes it just takes a little hand-holding from a team that understands not only the biomechanics of running, but the minds of runners.
Why do we love this sport so much? Because it doesn’t matter what color our skin is, whether we are fast, slow, short, tall, skinny or fat. It doesn’t matter whether we like boys or girls, are rich or poor, have Down syndrome, Autism, or a blade on one foot. When we step up to the line, we all speak the same language and we all understand each other.