“I am a runner*.”

*It feels strange to call myself a runner, hence the asterisk. I am by no means a natural long distance runner, more of a sprinter (At least back when I could sprint without pulling a hammie). But I suppose, if you run then you are a runner. With apologies to Descartes: I run, therefore I am.

Anyway, I ran the Adelaide Half Marathon in August and had some hip and knee problems. My hip got sore halfway through, then my knee became very painful. My knee wouldn’t straighten, no matter what I tried. (It might have helped to stop and stretch but I wasn’t going to stop). This made the last 5 km or so feel very long indeed. The last couple of kilometres became less of a run, more of an embarrassing hobble.

The Physio Review:

A few days later, I had an assessment of my knee and hip, to establish what I might have done to myself. Nothing major, the knee was fine and I just had some muscle tightness at the the hip/glutes.

I wondered if there might have been something in my training or running that was amiss. I had more or less been just going out and running, trying to do a bit more each time. No strengthening, stretching, nothing. I wanted to see what would happen if I just ran. I was running an experiment (#dadjoke).

The Running Assessment

Having just started at Aspire I thought I would have a running assessment done. Membership has it’s privileges.

In the past, the only input I have had was running on a treadmill at a shoe store and looking at the videos. The Running Assessment with Sally was obviously much more in depth than that.

The assessment is, broadly speaking, in three parts:

First, we talked about the running that I have been doing, the problems I had been having and my goals. We discussed my history of injuries, different sports I have played, footwear, etc. This part is the key to the rest of the assessment. Everyone is different in their history, current training and future goals so the assessment needs to take all of this into account.

For the record, my main goal is to keep running to see where I end up. I mean that figuratively, but occasionally literally. My only other goal is to run the New York Marathon. Because obviously.

The second part of the assessment looks at strength, endurance and flexibility. It assesses important aspects of these which relate to running. This identified some asymmetry, with weakness on my R glutes and some back and hamstring stiffness.

The third part is where the rubber meets the road (or at least, the treadmill). I ran on the treadmill for a few minutes to find the right speed as it feels a bit different to running on the road. Then I was recorded from the back and from the side. My cadence, steps per minute, was a bit slower than ideal.

The videos were interesting, aside from it being a bit weird watching myself run. I was overstriding slightly (my heel was hitting the ground too far in front of me) which is inefficient and slowing me down. This is likely related to the slow cadence. I was also stiff/tight through the back and shoulders, as was predicted during the flexibility assessment.

The Results

The end result of the assessment was a few things to work on.

  • Flexibility through the back and hamstrings.
  • Strength/endurance of my right glutes.
  • Increasing cadence should reduce the overstriding and make me run smoother.

So far, I have been able to consistently get my cadence up to the high 160’s which is better. My strength and flexibility are improving with exercise.

I have since been able to run the Half Marathon distance without much difficulty and I have a flexibility regimen which I actually enjoy.

Since the running assessment and implementing the recommendations, running is certainly more enjoyable. I feel stronger and my stride feels smoother, more natural.

And I’m getting faster. Slowly.

Thanks to our Physiotherapist Bret for sharing his experiences of a Running Assessment.

This Assessment is appropriate for you if any of the following apply:

  • Can run 3km non-stop, or 30+km non-stop
  • Would like to learn how to run faster
  • Would like to overcome a niggling injury
  • Have your sights set on a particular event, and that event is more than 6 weeks away