There’s more to running than running

  • This was printed in June of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 55th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Alternatively, I didn’t know there was anything I

needed to fix until I “broke.”

After a visit to physical therapist and orthopedic specialist Chris Mohr at Troxell and

Mohr Physical Therapy (their Madera office is on Cleveland Avenue), I took note of three

things I need to fix. The first one has nothing to do with my recently diagnosed weak core

and butt.

1. Get a new primary care physician. In all honesty, my go-to doctor is not an athlete and

does not specialize in sports medicine. A misdiagnosis and a “just take some ibuprofen

and a few weeks off” recommendation has made me realize that I need a doctor who can

treat what I’ve become: an athlete.

I’ve been a daughter for 26 years, a journalist for 10, a wife for eight and a mom for four.

I’m new at this “athlete” label; it’s only been a part of my identity for 18 months. It has

taken a while to realize that running isn’t something that I do, it’s part of who I am. I need

to adjust some things in my life — like my primary care doctor — accordingly.

2. Rethink my core. Runners, and actually all non-couch potatoes, need strong core

muscles to avoid injury. Having a weak core affects a runner’s form, which eventually

leads to different muscles and tendons overcompensating and being stressed to the point

of injury.

When I think of core, I think “abs” and “six-pack.” I thought I knew how to work my

core; I have a two pack so far. Do some planks, crunches, bicycle crunches to target the

obliques, or side abs, and I’m good. Right? Wrong, says Dr. Mohr.

Core stabilizing muscles include pretty much everything except the arms and legs, from

the deepest of the abdominal muscles to the muscles along the spine all the way up to the

neck and down to the hip and gluteus (butt) muscles.

My hip “injury” turned out to be some tightness and overuse of my psoas (pronounced

so-as), iliacus and piriformis, which are all muscles near the hip, and a weak gluteus


How the heck I can have a weak butt with all the squats and lunges I do, I’ll never know.

But I do have a new prescribed strengthening regimen I’ll need to follow to fix my form.

3. Stick to a stretching routine. “Do you stretch?” Dr. Mohr asked me on Monday. My

response was hesitation and a huge smile. I didn’t admit that my post-run routine includes

coffee with my running buddies and then speeding home for a five-minute shower before

my kids wake up and my husband leaves for work.

I have every intention of stretching when I get home from the run, but by the time I hop

out of the shower and get one arm through my shirtsleeve, my son is yelling “Mommy?

Mom!” from his crib and my daughter is walking down the hall, still half asleep, asking

for a glass of milk and Caillou.

From there it’s a whirlwind of breakfast, choosing outfits, making and cleaning up

messes, working from home, play dates, grocery shopping and chores — and before I

know it, it’s noon.

It looks like I’ll have to skip coffee with the Wascallys (yes, my PT told me I can run

again!) to fit in some stretching post-shower. But then again, my kids will probably just

wake up earlier.


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