Experiment: Less is More

These are the accounts my new experiment with a sample size of n=1.

How I got here.

I’ve been running since I was 15 years old. At times, I’ve done it pretty well. My sophomore year in high school, I earned All-State in both cross country and track. After that, I attended University of Virginia and ran varsity cross country and track, earning All-ACC in the 10,000m with a PR of 30:14. That isn’t going to win any national championships, but it was good enough to get me and education at one of the best state schools in the country.

Interestingly enough, when I was in college, my parents revealed to me that when I was born the doctors told them that I would need to wear corrective shoes. They never had me wear them, relied on prayer and I never experienced any difficulty with my feet.

While I was in college I was running 2 times a day and 90+ miles a week to be successful. After school, I started training for my first triathlon in order to spread my training load over three sports and I have been hooked ever since.

As a triathlete, my run has always been my strongest discipline, but it has always been my biggest challenge to stay healthy. For years, I have had nagging calf problems to in the past few years a quirky foot ankle problem that caused my stride to be extremely awkward. I’ve worked through the challenges in different ways — strength training, massage therapy, chiropractic, various shoes, altering training, etc. — and have recently been fairly consistent, if not spectacular, with my run training.

After yet another minor setback with my calf this spring, I went to see Natalie King, PTA/CMIT, at Schrier Physical Therapy in Gaithersburg, MD, http://schrierphysicaltherapy.com/. Natalie has developed the Athletic Movement and Performance Test, AMPT, to indentify strength and range of motion limitations for triathlon-specific movements. Her assessment was the most thorough and eye-opening I have ever received. She indentified a significant range of motion limitation in my ankles and lack of activiation my my glutes. Both of these assesssments fit squarely with things I had been sensing in my stride, but no one had been able put their finger on it.

Natalie recommended custom orthotics to help address my issues. While I have tried custom orthotics in the past, I have never felt supported or benefited from them and have quickly tossed them to the back of my closet, so I was skeptical. Considering her excellent diagnosis, however, I was willing to give them a shot. We spent at least an hour forming the ortho’s and adjusting them using video analysis. I felt great leaving the office and was looking forward to running again.

I was back to running right away and was running healthy. But something was still missing…..