A little over two years ago I was running through the mountains of Virginia. Things were going well... until they weren’t. I would find out later from the esteemed, all-around amazing PT, Cat Fitzgerald, that years of running, cycling, and all manner of exercise (without the proper stretching or strength training) had finally caught up with me.
Recently Cat and the team at Custom Performance asked if I would write a few words about my IT Band experience. Hopefully my story will make someone feel a little less bad about this, truth be told, totally lame type of injury.
I think a key part of any IT band recovery program is the dreaded run-walk. I want to specifically talk about this part of the process, because for me it was really mentally challenging. Running has always been a huge part of my life and one of the things that brings me solace and peace. I literally run everywhere; by myself, with my wife, with my daughter, with friends, to raise money for causes! I sit on the board of a wonderful non-profit, Back on My Feet, that addresses homelessness through the power of running and essential services. Needless to say, being unable to run threw so many things in my life off balance.
Starting the run-walk stage of rehabilitation was incredibly challenging; and to be honest, quite discouraging. You start to run at a slow pace for a few minutes, but then you would stop, walk for a while, and run again. Over and over. It always felt like a bit of a cruel joke; you get to start running, but then all of a sudden you have to stop again. The whole process went on for quite some time, and despite the continued encouragement and sage advice from Cat, the progress was slow. Sometimes I felt like I was never really going to move past this. In hindsight, I suppose this sounds a bit dramatic, but that's how I was feeling in the moment.
But here's the rub: it worked. Somehow. I haven't really spent too much time thinking about why (I'm sure Cat could tell me the exact reasons), but all I know is that one day I was able to just keep on running, with no pain! It was so amazing and humbling. If I were to try to pull out a big lesson from my experience I think it would be patience and trust. Having patience through the long process, especially the parts that require you to go slow and steady and engage in work, e.g., walking, that seem like it isn't doing anything. And trust. Trust in the process, trust in your PT, and trust in yourself. You will run again; maybe even faster than before!
Custom Performance Client and Runner Extraordinaire