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The third installment of Rob Krar's journal back to health focuses on what many of us runners take for granted: our stride.
After many, many hours of working hand in hand with Ryan Whited of Paragon Athletics, I've started running back on the trails I love so much. We've successfully worked backwards through a series of deficiencies and weaknesses that over time led to the pain I'd been experiencing in my lower back. My body is annoyingly efficient at compensating for these deficiencies and weaknesses, and though this can be extremely beneficial in the very short-term, it can be equally detrimental in the long-term. Looking back at some footage from the Western States Endurance Run 100M from June, my stride clearly indicated something was off, despite feeling strong and confident the length of the race.
It's hard to trace the origin of the injury. One theory goes back to the severe right leg calf strain I experienced only 200 meters away from winning the 2013 North Face Endurance Challenge Championships in San Francisco late in the year. In retrospect, I should have been using crutches the first week or two as I was walking with a severely compensated stride. My right foot had to rotate almost 90 degrees out in order to walk on my heel and not place any stress on the damaged calf. Several months of ski mountaineering allowed me to maintain my fitness and be patient in recovery, but the muscle memory I'd developed walking with my right foot cocked outward was extremely difficult to reign in once I retuned to the trails. This experience has definitely taught me to be more conscious of small changes in my body, even after long periods of rest or cross training. It wasn't until I clipped a toe and busted a couple of ribs a few weeks later that my attention turned from my awkward stride to nursing the stubborn pain that accompanies a rib injury. However, the compensated stride most likely unwittingly continued and eventually led to instability of my pelvic ring and the resulting pain in my lower back.
It's important for me to stay in the moment and not second-guess the past - retrospect is always so crystal clear. I'm focused on recognizing and appreciating my shortsightedness, learning from it, and moving forward as a stronger, smarter, and more conscious runner. I'm so thankful to be finding my flow once again on the trails, and returning to something that has always felt so natural to me. There is still work to be done, no doubt, but I'm excited to be reaping the rewards of the healthier stride I'm finding myself in now.
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