June 4, 2014

The Running Injury Chronicles

If you're new here, or haven't been around that long, here's how it all started. Last June, I was running home from work when my knee gave out about 3 miles into the run. I went to the doctor, he prescribed rest and a month later, I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon. Training was going well until, on an 18 mile run, my knee gave out at Mile 12. Shortly after, I dropped out of the race. I started going to PT in November and took the months of November - February completely off from running.

With the ok from PT, I started slowly training for the Nike Women's Half Marathon. Training was going ok, not great, and at Mile 8 of the race, my knee gave out. Two weeks off and a few visits back to PT and I ran the Alexandria Running Festival Half...where my knee gave out at Mile 6.

So, here we are, a year from when this first started and this is where I am.

After the Alexandria Half, I decided it was time to see a specialist. I had heard a lot about the Endurance Athlete Center, but never really looked into it because the location, Falls Church, VA, seemed prohibitive. After the race, a few more people recommended I try them, so I decided to look into them.


From their website:
Why Endurance Athlete Center?
Because we get it.
Endurance athletes are a different breed. General health care and fitness professionals can’t possibly understand the unique mentality or the physical requirements it takes to compete in endurance events. We know there is always a story behind the drive that gives you the motivation to persist.
Because giving up is never an option.
We have created this center to bring the best endurance specialists under one roof to establish a collaborative plan for you to reach your goals...We understand your goals and the demands of your training schedule because we are athletes too. Every professional at the EAC runs, bikes, swims, or participates in some form of what the rest of the world may define as “crazy”.
I knew I was in the right place when the initial paperwork at my first visit asked what my weekly mileage was, how often I ran and what my training/performance goals were.
Three visits in and already I can tell that this physical therapy is going to be radically different from anything else I've done. First, you get one on one time with your PT. At the last place I went to, my therapist often had 4 patients at a time. Second, he doesn't care that my knee hurts (well, obviously he does), but he's concerned with getting to the root of the problem, which is hip and glute strength mixed with a case of not great running form.
During my 2nd visit, I got on the treadmill and Gavin, my PT, filmed me running at a number of different angles. Then, we slowed down the footage and broke down where all of my issues are.
Issue #1: I run with my legs too close together. When I run, my left leg almost crosses completley over my right leg (a la model walk). 
The Fix: Focus on running with my legs a little bit wider apart. It isn't comfortable right now, but I'll get there.
Issue #2: My pony tail flops all over the place. What does that have to do with running (you might ask, I sure did)...it shows that my upper body is moving too much. My ponytail should move up and down, not swing from side to side. 
The Fix: Loosen up before my runs. 
The best part of all of this is that I can run. Right now, I'm running no more than 3 miles every other day, doing a number of drills before each run and then a number of exercises in between. Gavin is confident that I'll be in shape to train for a fall marathon (a full one!) and that this will definitely be an easy fix. There are a few other issues that I'm working on, but these are some of the main points.
Once again, I'm optimistic, but this time, it isn't cautiously so. I know I'm in the right place, getting the best treatment, and doing exactly what I need to to get myself back in order. 
Oh, and the distance? Not at all as prohibitive as I thought. It took me 30 minutes to get into the office this morning from the PT office via bus & Metro...though I could have easily walked from the office.
Have you ever seen a running specialist? Or any other sport specific specialist?
Disclaimer: If this sounded like a review, it wasn't meant to be. I sought out EAC on my own terms and am not being compensated in any way for writing about them.


  1. Yay!! This all sounds very promising!!! I struggled with knee pain for well over a year, too, and finally got a doctor that just got me. One day we were sitting in her office (after many other failed fixes) and she asked "Have you thought about trying a different sport?" and I said "It's not an option" and she said "Okay, then we'll keep finding a solution." And sure enough, we did! Quad and hip strength were also HUGE for me..and something that when I fail to pay attention to it (which unfortunately happens quite frequently), I really notice more feedback from my knee.

    Sounds like you're in great hands! Have you been daring enough to pick your fall marathon yet?

  2. So good to hear this! I hope this is the solution for you, I can't even imagine struggling with this for so long. Glad you can at least still run while fixing the areas that need fixing. That place seems awesome, glad they are taking you seriously!

  3. So good to hear this! I hope this is the solution for you, I can't even imagine struggling with this for so long. Glad you can at least still run while fixing the areas that need fixing. That place seems awesome, glad they are taking you seriously!

  4. Glad that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Hopefully he is as good as he seems :)

  5. What a relief!! You are in good hands and to be able to run a fall marathon - woohooo!!!

  6. Christy that is such GREAT news!!! It sounds like this is the perfect place for you to get back to good running health. And what a unique way to diagnose and fix problems (the video...very cool). Can't wait to hear more!!

  7. I hope everything works out! Being injured is the worst. That's so interesting though about the ponytail movement -- I need to pay attention to mine now!

    Good luck!


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