By now I'm not phased by personal trainers and physical therapists who zoom in like a laser on every part of my body when I move. So when a team of running professionals holding clipboards asked me to walk across the room a few times and then run on a treadmill I thought ok I can do that.
They all started talking to each other at once, first agreeing and then arguing.
One of the running coaches had set the treadmill at 6 MPH, which is very fast for me, especially just starting out of the gate. After a few minutes I began to hear my former trainer's voice in my head and panicked.
"YOU NEED TO LET YOUR BODY REST." Since I've known Reuel I've only heard him raise his voice twice.
"I have a stride clinic on Saturday that I registered for weeks ago. Can I do that?"
"YOU NEED TO PUT AS MUCH EFFORT INTO RESTING ON YOUR REST DAYS AS YOU PUT INTO WORKING OUT ON YOUR WORKOUT DAYS." That was the second time.
I looked around. Are they still talking about me? So here I am on my rest day, and I'm running at full speed. I set the machine at 5 MPH. The clipboards were still arguing and nobody was looking at me anyway.
They stopped talking.
Ok so maybe they were looking at me. I pressed the Stop button and turned around.
"Your pelvis on your left side rotates and drops and you have weakness in your left gluteus medius," the physical therapist said.
"You are using a lot of energy," one of the coaches said. "And all of your energy is coming from your lower body."
"It's like your legs are on the trail but the rest of your body is on the couch taking a snooze."
To a new runner that actually sounds like a good, if highly creative, strategy.
"You need to engage your core when you run to take pressure off your lower body and run more efficiently."
"Wow," I said. "Can you give me a visual cue for that?" Because I was still stuck on the first visual.
Coach Betty Smith, who runs a popular posture clinic on Tuesday nights in Rockville, showed me some exercises designed to adjust my posture so I am better able to engage my upper body. She had me stretch to the ceiling and then lower my arms and fall into a kind of trust position as she held my body weight. It was a great exercise and an interesting feeling and I will try to duplicate it when I take both my booty and my head with me on my long run tomorrow.
I had arrived early at the Montgomery County Road Runners Club stride clinic because I was nervous about not being stretched and warmed up when it was my turn to be observed on the treadmill.
There were 5 runners in our group and 4 groups of professionals - running coaches, podiatrists, physical therapists, and massage specialists.
"Are you our FMR?" One of the clipboards asked me.
"I'm sorry - your what?"
"FMR. It's not a dirty word. First Time Marathon Runner. "
"Ahh. Yes. That's me."
After she had me walk back and forth across the room a few times, in one second running coach Lubin Hernandez and Dr. Alex Kor, a podiatrist who practices at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, zeroed in on my left foot problems. I took off my socks, and with the speed and grace of an Olympic synchronized swimming team, Dr. Kor and Lubin each grabbed one of my Brooks and began re-lacing them.
Then Dr. Kor showed me the neuroma on top of my left foot and recommended deep tissue massage, which Lubin got right into. He also recommended soaking my foot in a pail of cold water right after a run and maybe 2 cortisone treatments after committing to deep tissue massage, the kind that really hurts as opposed to the pedicure I was planning on later in the day.
"Do you wear high heels?" he asked.
Really? "Yes I wear high heels," I said.
"That's a big contributing factor."
"It's not like I commute in them or run in them."
"When's your next available appointment?"
When I came home I showed my husband the picture coach Betty drew of my posture while she was watching me run.
"That's Sponge Bob."
"She's a running coach. Not an artist."
"Sponge Bob Square Pants."
"I know who Sponge Bob is. She's trying to illustrate that I do not hinge from the hip and lean forward enough when I run."
"Now that you've got a podiatrist, maybe you should add an artist to the team."
See you next time!