Minor adjustments

Do minor adjustments really make a difference… like taking the stairs instead of the elevator? If you work on the fourth floor, you could lose a pound a week. How about switching to instant coffee instead of daily Starbucks?  You could save $500 in just one year.

I have recently been feeling a pain in my leg when I run long distance, and I want a quick fix because I committed to doing a marathon fundraiser on December 5.  Do I really have the patience for minor adjustments?

After working my way up to 20 miles in training runs, I am now suffering from IT band syndrome.  It causes a stabbing pain on the outside of my knee that has stopped me in my tracks after just 4 miles. Resting was not enough to fix it.  I took a week off and then felt the pain again.

After getting some great coaching advice from my brother Jeff and online running friends, I had a breakthrough day today. I warmed up with a walk on the treadmill, followed by 15 minutes of foam roller stretching on each leg.  I took off running slowly on a flat sidewalk instead of the slightly inclined country roads I’ve been on recently (road unevenness is a typical cause of ITBS.). I also shortened my stride and focused on centering my weight over my legs to reduce the amount of work on the IT band “stabilizer.” I pulled in my elbows to reduce side to side body sway.

I crossed over the 4-mile mark, preparing to feel the tingle of pain in my leg.  I relaxed, slowed down, breathed deeply… and kept going.  I went to 5.  I went to 6.  I went to 7… and then decided not to tempt fate anymore. I was smiling the smile of conquest again!  I can do this! 

Each of the things I did was a small adjustment, but collectively they made a big difference.  The average marathon requires 40,000 to 50,000 steps, so any minor thing will be greatly magnified by the time you get to the finish line. One runner told me his left leg measured one sixteenth of an inch shorter than his right.  Adding a slightly thicker orthotic in his left shoe aligned his body correctly and took away his pain.

22 days until marathon and I’m back in the saddle again.  Coaching makes a difference, and minor adjustments can lead to major breakthroughs.

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