I’ve done a lot over the past few weeks. Starting in late September, I raced the Birmingham Stage Race, hopped a plane and ran a half marathon in California, returned and two weeks later ran the Crusher Ridge 42K, then less than a week later I paced a friend at the Pinhoti 100, running with her for 30 miles through the dark and cold overnight hours. I was good to rest and recover in the days between each event, but the 30 miles along the Pinhoti turned out to be a lot of power hiking up hills and mountains using some muscles that as a runner I don’t often engage.
I figured it was time for me to do a little preventative medicine when it came to my running health. I’m 47, so my powers of recovery don’t engage was quickly as they did just 5 years ago. If Im going to pull off the goals I have for the next year, then it is time to be less reactive about my running infrastructure.
I met Sloan Beard at mile 68 of the Pinhoti 100 at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. My 30 mile pacer duty had just ended and I was eating from the aid station table that she had manned. I saw her fleece with a “F.A.R.M.” logo and asked if she worked there. “I own it,” she giggled. So what exactly WAS the FARM? I’d seen their tent at trail events in Birmingham and I knew a couple of runners they sponsored. But in my imagination the FARM was some sort of agricultural collective replete with cows ad pigs. No, Sloan explained, Functional and Rehabilitative Medicine was their business, not livestock or crops. They did chiro work, but also stressed whole body functional analysis.
After a week’s rest following Pinhoti, I went out on a warm Saturday morning for a one-hour run. Near the end of the run, my soleus and the area behind my knee became irritated. It was odd. I hadn’t felt this all week. Did Pinhoti do this? Was it the sheer volume of the past month or something else entirely? I called the FARM and made an appointment to get checked out and to establish a relationship for the future. My body needs a mechanic who can spot problems before they become problems, not merely fix me after I break.
Sloan’s husband Beau is my new mechanic. Before he examined my knee issue, he put me through a battery of balance and strength tests and discovered that my left side, specifically the hip, is weak and has ben throwing me off balance which has resulted in my issue, which is, not surprisingly, in the left leg. ‘ve got a battery of exercises to balance and strengthen my hips and even out my balance.
The cool thing about Beau is he is all about continuing running and movement even in the rehab phase, as long as damage is not being extended. Be smart but stay active. It is refreshing to have a doc whose first reaction to injury is not to cease all activity. He gets runners and understands our peculiar addictions and needs. And that’s a good thing.