In December 2014, I was training for my third full marathon, the 2015 The Woodlands Marathon. I was on mile five of an 18 mile run when I felt a shooting pain go through the side of my left knee. I stopped, limped a little, tried to walk it off hoping that I’d just stepped on it funny. After a few minutes the initial pain subsided so I tried running again, only making it a few steps before the pain returned. I knew the run was done. In my head, I knew The Woodlands Marathon was done, too. I turned around and started the walk-of-shame back home.
This didn’t happen randomly. I’d been feeling an achy, burning sensation on the outside of my knees for months but I decided to ignore it. Because ignoring it would make it go away, right?
After that fateful failed 18-miler, I turned to the internet for help. A little self diagnosis later, I determined that I had iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBS) and started the slow rehab process. Cross training. Rest. Stretching. Foam rolling. Repeat. Repeat, again…for three months.
Fast forward a year. I was training for the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon. Things were going amazingly well. The training cycle had been incredible. I was running six days a week, and doing two days a week of very intense speed work. The paces I was sustaining were faster than I had ever run. I had a massive half marathon PR a couple of months before. My pie-in-the-sky goal of qualifying for Boston seemed like it actually might happen, though I was trying to keep myself from being too excited. Two weeks before the race, well into the three week taper, I was doing an “easy” treadmill run and felt a little pain on the inside of my right shin.
Did I stop? No. Did I address the pain? No. I was stupid and ran anyway.
The next day, it was a little achy but I ran because that’s what the plan told me to do. And the next day too.
A week before the race my right shin was a fireball of pain. I kept it wrapped most of the day, put ice on it and quit running. The day of the race, I wore my compression sleeves, popped a few ibuprofen (don’t do this!) and ran the race of my life. I came away with a 45- minute PR, a 10-minute BQ, and an amazing sense of pride. I also catastrophically injured my shin.
I didn’t run for two months.
During that time, I once again, turned to the all-knowing internet for help. Two major injuries in two years, obviously I was doing something wrong. The internet led me to a weekend class that was being offered in Galveston, called Healthy Running. It looked awesome. So, I signed up.
I spent that weekend learning all about the biomechanics and the physics behind proper running form. I learned about injuries, why they happen and how to prevent them. We talked about training strategies and how to maximize performance with minimal damage to the body. We learned about physiology, how the body’s energy systems work and how to utilize it in training. I left that weekend with a list of books to read and a lot of homework to do.
It rocked my running world.
While my shins healed, I started working with a trainer at the gym. I did drills to emphasize proper running form. I did a ton of work on my core. I shortened my stride. Most importantly, I slowed down.
I made it my mission to learn as much as I could about running and the human body. I read books on running physiology, case studies on fat adaption, and I studied training strategies. I learned that injury was preventable and vowed to never let it happen to me again.
Sadly, in my running community I saw others making the same mistake I had made. Running too fast and running too hard, all the time. I watched people, my friends, get injured and go through the recovery process. It hurt me to stand by and watch it happen when I knew I could be helping. That’s when I knew that I needed to be a coach. I needed to help.
Now, I work with runners of all abilities and all stages of training – from beginners doing run/walk intervals to experienced marathoners wanting to qualify for Boston. Every runner, in every stage, has unique goals and helping people reach their goals makes me happy.