Never Limit Where Running Can Take You
By: Dr. Peggy Malone
“Never limit where running can take you” -Bart Yasso
Last weekend at the Chicago Marathon, one runner had a particularly fascinating and eventful day. Amber Miller was 9 months pregnant when she lined up at the start line.
Now that may seem to most people to be waaaaay out of bounds. But it was not her first marathon, her first pregnancy or her first marathon during a pregnancy.
The most amazing part of her day on October 9, 2011 was not crossing the finish line after running a marathon at nearly 39 weeks pregnant….which she did.
It was several hours later when she gave birth to a seven-pound, 13-ounce baby girl.
Many may think that she is crazy or that her doctor is crazy for allowing her to do the race. As one local physician said that day “I don’t think she’s crazy … it sounds like she’s an elite athlete to be able to run that many miles this late in pregnancy.”
It does seem to be extreme but as a very fit, experienced runner who ran and trained through her pregnancy, who knew her body better than anyone else, with the support of her doctor and her family, she made it to the finish line.
The thing that I love most about this story is that she listened to her body and to her intuition as an athlete and a mother and she didn’t let the opinions of many other people limit where she knew she could go.
When I heard this story, I got thinking about the limits that runners sometimes come up against, whether self imposed or put on them by family, friends, or health care providers.
This week in my practice I worked with a patient who, at only 3 weeks away from a fall marathon, was extremely frustrated by a leg injury.
She was especially frustrated because before visiting my office, she had seen 2 other health care providers who had told her that her injury was quite serious and that she should stop running and that she shouldn’t run the marathon.
After examining her, it was evident that her injury was not as serious as she had been lead to believe and she felt much better after a treatment.
She came into my office believing she had a serious injury that would take her out of an event she had trained 5 months for and she left feeling some relief from her physical symptoms and with the expectation that she will still reach the finish line upright and smiling in 3 weeks.
The quick ‘solutions’ of the other health care providers put some big limits on her beliefs about what was possible.
With that said, of course there are times when an athlete has an injury that will take them out of competition but the scenario that I just described is very common.
In order to avoid the frustration of going through what my poor patient did, I have provided below some of my best advice for athletes who are struggling with injury during their training.
If you are injured or if you are feeling pain or discomfort that lasts longer than 48 hours, visit your health care provider for help.
It’s human nature to think that the injury will get better on it’s own, or that you can manage it yourself. If you have a race coming up and it is important for you to participate or if you don’t want to lose any training, then follow the 48 hour rule and get some help if you need it.
Here is a very important piece of advice. The health care provider that you visit should be an athlete themselves or have specialized knowledge of sports injuries and experience working with athletes. This will lead to the best explanation and treatment of the injury that you are dealing with.
One thing you can also count on from a healthcare provider that is experienced working with athletes is that they will find a solution that allows you to stay active in some way instead of telling you to stop completely.
If your health care provider tells you to stop, unless they have a super compelling reason and they are a runner themselves and work all the time with runners….get another opinion.
The patient that I worked this week may need to adjust her goals slightly for her race day or she made need to expect some discomfort during her race, but the limit of ‘just don’t do it’ is no longer something that she is going to settle for.
Here a few more stories of how runners didn’t accept what others told them and they continued on to accomplish amazing things as athletes.
Two great American runners overcame potentially crippling illnesses. Sprinter Gail Devers suffered from Graves' disease, and doctors were close to amputating her feet before her condition improved and she went on to win Olympic gold in 1992.
Decades earlier, sprinter Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three track-and-field gold medals in a single Olympics — a glorious fate for a woman who was sickly as a child and wore a leg brace. "My doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would," said Rudolph. "I believed my mother."
The story I want to leave you with today is one that I find awesome and inspiring.
After most fans had gone home, as banners were being taken down, as event workers were dismantling race barriers, and after more than 8 hours since he took his first steps at the start line, he crossed the finish line after running 42.2km (26.2miles).
Ok, so lots of people did that yesterday and it didn’t take them over 8 hours….so what makes this guy so special?
Well. He is 100 years old.
Yesterday’s event in Toronto was his 8th marathon. He did his first one at….get this….age 89.
He started running at age 80 which generally is not the age when most people start a running program (you think?)
I would guess that there were many naysayers and people that told him that he was nuts and that he should stop, but he didn’t. He didn’t let the limits of others opinions or his age keep him from running toward his goals.
When asked to describe Fauja Singh’s remarkable accomplishment, race director Alan Brookes struggled to find the right words "I'm speechless," he said. "Fauja Singh is a remarkable human being."
If you are considering starting a running program, but have been resisting for some reason, I hope that you will take some of these examples as inspiration to remove your limits and start putting one foot in front of the other.
Never limit where running can take you.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.
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