About five years ago my doctor told me to stop running. Six weeks earlier I had invested in some swanky high-tech sneakers, hit the pavement and came home after every run with throbbing, swollen knees and pain that would last for days. At the time, I figured it would go away as I “got used” to running. No such luck. The pain got worse and was eventually diagnosed as “runner’s knee” or patella-femoral syndrome.
What I learned later (through yoga of all things) was that my specific issue stemmed from a postural anomaly of externally rotated hips, which threw everything out of line from my hips to my toes. With misaligned knees, ankles that caved in, flat feet and a duck-footed stance, I was not a good candidate for running. At the time my doctor never said any of this or recommended an alternative, so I hung up my shoes and gave up any idea of running.
Five years later, I’m giving it a second try.
Yoga is the best physical therapy a girl could ask for. It was through my practice that I learned about the lesson of my hips. It was through yoga that I have worked on changing that to the best of my body’s ability. (You can’t change your skeleton, but you can help it out!)
I’m the strongest and most flexible I’ve ever been and have spent the intervening years working on strengthening and lengthening the areas that need work as well as strengthening the muscles around my knees and ankles.
The other big reason I want to give running a second try is that I need to prove to myself that I can. I grew up believing I was uncoordinated, not athletic and just plain old no good at anything that involved running. Yoga has drastically changed how I view my body and I am able to physically do things I never thought possible before: chaturanga, headstand, even survive a 90 minute class!
I still run into door frames, trip over nonexistent things and generally act like a bull moose in a china shop, but yoga has taught me that I can leave all that behind and find grace and coordination. I feel my most centered on my mat and that feeling sticks with me longer and longer after practicing. So while I still end up with strange and unexplained bruises, I don’t think I’m worthless at physical activities any more. Just a little behind the learning curve since I lost a decade or so in mis-belief.
I’m also inspired my a handful of people in my life who have picked up running or recommitted themselves to the discipline. My brother, a cyclist who bagged his first century this summer, ran his first 5K this fall; my roommate who’s running a Turkey Trot with her Dad this Thanksgiving; and my soul sister and fellow yogi Tess, who is training for a half marathon (!!!) on December 1st. So much inspiration!
And now I turn to you, Perusers & Perigrinators. Do you run? Any good advice on what to do and what not to do?