“This was a terrible idea!” I declared to Tony Felitte around Mile 20 of the Mohawk Hudson Marathon back in October 2016. I came to a halting stop, and bent over, hands on my knees, sparkles from my sequin running skirt catching the sunlight on a perfect fall day.
It was my second marathon in a month. Meaning that there were a mere three weeks in between my go at the Ventura marathon, and the local marathon that I admit was the worst idea ever!
So why am I bringing this up now? And why was it such a bad idea anyway?!
Well, as I have been reflecting on my life and running in 2016 (which I generally do as one year ends and another begins) this one fateful decision stands out as a turning point in my life. And now you’re going to wonder “Why was it a turning point?!” and I will come back to that, pinky swear!
But first, I would like to point out that electing to run this marathon was not some exclusive decision that took me from elite athlete to hobbling, sidelined runner. It was one bad decision piled dysfunctionally on another, and yet another!
Was running two marathons in such a short period of time sheer stupidity? Not really. I know plenty of runners who have done as much, with impressive results. But the results I walked away with, although not horrendous to the general population, did NOT reflect the athlete I know I am deep down inside if that makes sense. That athlete was buried under a pile of dysfunction. Years and years worth of dysfunction when you get down to it.
In my case, my bull-headed approach to running left little room for addressing a pre-existing condition I KNEW I had. I had the seen the MRIs. I had spoken to the orthos and PTs and chiropractor. I had listened to Jeremiah gently remind me that I probably needed to do some kind of personalized strength training. I didn’t completely love what everyone had to say, so I just ignored it. Brilliant idea!
After I ran the Ventura Marathon, I sensed deep down that my hip condition was catching up to me. I literally felt the inefficiency sap me of energy in the middle of that marathon. But I was on a mission to qualify for Boston. And honestly, I was too afraid to stop running. Afraid of getting slow. Afraid of getting out of shape. Afraid I would have to face things in my life that were also a giant-ass pile of dysfunction if I stopped running. So I just kept right on running from the fear.
All smiles before the Ventura Marathon on September 11th
Not only did I fail to re-qualify for Boston, and lose seven toenails, but I turned a hip weakness into a full-on injury. Which is why I took a nice break to chat with Tony around Mile 20 of the Mohawk Hudson. He of course got me back out there with his enthusiasm. And it helped that Miah and Sonya were waiting a mile or so up the road! But the damage was done.
So I finally sought professional help, right? Of course not! Instead I ran the Squirrelly Six Trail race the weekend before Halloween, dressed as a mermaid. And miraculously placed third overall for the women. This was the performance I needed. I had an absolute blast tearing through the woods, and I could end my season on this note!
When I limped through the following day, I finally acknowledged the error of my ways. Never running again was scarier than facing those other fears. Ok, let me stop here and point out that it’s not like I did NOTHING but run! For the past year, I tried hot yoga, and barre bootcamp, and swam, and did a series of 15 minute basic strength exercises a few times a week. But nothing was addressing my very unique asymmetries, weaknesses and imbalances. After a week of research, I found myself at Albany Movement & Fitness, getting a Functional Movement Screen from Seth Thomas. And it was the catalyst that set a series of changes in motion.
We agreed to shut down my running (yes, I was still stubbornly shuffling through a few miles a few times a week). My race agenda was consequently on hold too.
What happened next will shock you. Ok, maybe not, but I’ve always wanted to say that!
But here it is any who
- Without my own race ambitions in the way, I was open to God and his agenda for once. Not trying to be preachy or religious here. I just think he has one, and I actually cared about it.
- Without running, I realized that I don’t NEED running to be happy or healthy. I missed it during that sabbatical, but my life went on without running.
- Working with Seth as my personal trainer, I quickly felt healthier and stronger than I had in like, YEARS! Sure I miss running, but it’s not the foundation of my personal fitness anymore. My whole definition of “healthy” has undergone a major makeover!
- As much as I was consumed with running over the past decade, I was more increasingly consumed with this need to make a difference in my community, and help others improve their quality of life. This new definition of “healthy” and “fit” that I now possess is only fueling that!
- As great as things like swimming, running, yoga, bootcamp, metabolic meltdown and all those classes are, I realize now that if you jump into those without knowing your body, and addressing the smallest of imbalances, over time, those dysfunctions will most likely be painfully glaring!
The best worst decision I made in 2016 was actually the last leg of my own very long, winding route to the world of Functional Movement. Please don’t take my meandering, injury-ridden route to Functional Movement!
Sure you may be saying “Hey Sara, I’m really not in much pain. It’s not bad enough to be worth an XRay, so I don’t see the point,”
Heck, maybe you just started running or working out, and you feel super. Excellent! I hope you always feel that way! From experience I can assure you that if you want to stay healthy, or feel strong again, you need to make room for a Functional Movement Screen.
It’s not challenging or intimidating in any way. And the movement patterns that are tested with this screen are key to normal function of your body. The screen identifies functional limitations and asymmetries that can lead to injury if not addressed. I’m sure I sound like those commercials that beg the listener to get a colonoscopy or a flu shot right now, but that’s how important it is to anyone who wants to get moving toward their 2017 goals!
I wish I would have done this years ago! I think you will too!
NOT part of the screen, but one of the fun exercises that are part of the program Seth created for me to help me get stronger!