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A personal account of retuning to running strength

White Star Running’s owner and RD Andy shares his running and injury woes, and the steps he’s taking to get back to full strength. If you’re looking at ways to improve your running, avoid injury and stay strong, there might be some nuggets of advice in here.

A bit of background

So, I used to run a lot. I wasn’t very good at it; it was enjoyable though. I liked running in social groups, on the track and speed training (yeah, I know, weirdo), and races were great.

Now, for some reason I decided to take up MMA training in my mid-forties. This is a bad idea. I regularly got beaten up by other middle-aged sweaty men for fun. And it was fun as well. One day I got kicked in the knee. Google ‘Kansetsu-geri‘ you will get the idea or watch this. As a runner, getting a nice kick in the knee isn’t good.

Long story short, it buggered my knee and it’s not been right since this. That was about 8 years on, and I’ve had CT scans, one operation, loads of physio, etc, but got nowhere. I can’t run for more than 30 minutes without pain.

I went to see Dr Martin Lewis – not the money guy, the knee guy. He put me on an expensive treadmill, fired lasers at me and diagnosed my issues. He’s a legend.

However, being a dick I did nothing with it until I met Chris O’Brien. Personal trainer and coach. Take a look at this website: Verwood Runners will tell you how good he is.

Here at White Star Running, we don’t work with any old bod on the street. We work with people we trust, who are local and who are not rip-off merchants. No time wasters. Nor do we tolerate anyone who uses the phrases ‘blue sky thinking’ or ‘touch base with you guys’ or ‘imagineering’. Or in fact ‘running industry’… LOL.

My coaching starts soon, and hopefully Chris will get me back running.

The WSR program for better running

“So what?”, I can hear you shout at the screen. Well, I’m going to document it all here on the White Star Running website. Chris wants to start making you lot better runners with his coaching programs. If it will work for me, then it will work for an athlete like you. Maybe… probably… perhaps.

This will then lead onto a ‘WSR bigger, better, sexier running program’ (working title). Anyway, this will be a bespoke program for runners coached by Chris and aimed at making you a better runner.

“I don’t want to be better!” Yeah, you do. You really do. We have all been injured, under trained, overworked, lazy… whatever. Chris will get you back on it.

The idea is to get you running well. What you want from your running is up to you: run faster, further, etc. But we all want to keep on running – that’s the point of what we’re doing with Chris. It’s to give you the chance to keep on the trails… then do what you like.

We are also looking at a possible weekend away, where we have a seminar for runners. This would include inspirational and practical speakers, dieticians, physios and strength training coaches – you’d actually learn something. Then there would be the chance to train and get ready for a race a little bit further down the line… all in one package. This will be next year.

In the meantime, stand by for videos of an overweight drinker learning to run again. Could everyone go to Chris’s YouTube channel and subscribe please? He will get his own dinky URL then.

My initial assessment

So here is a bit about what happened when I went for my initial assessment. Because the weather was so nice, we were lucky enough to be able to do this outside. As I have had long-standing challenges that I was told weren’t fixable, we did a platinum level of assessment to give me the best chance of getting back to running well.

This is beyond what most runners would need, but elements of it are common for everyone.

We covered the following:

  • In-depth injury history – this took hours
  • Agility skills assessment – this didn’t take hours. FAIL
  • Balance skills assessment – poor balance. FAIL
  • Coordination assessment – I can walk and breathe at the same time. PASS
  • Neuroflow assessment
    • Blood pressure
    • Oxygen saturation
    • Sensory testing
    • Visual testing
    • Integration testing
    • Functional brain assessment
  • Full body walking gait assessment – barefoot
  • Full body running gait assessment – barefoot
  • Full body running gait assessment – in shoes. After seeing the video I’ve seen what a mess I’ve become in lockdown… diet time!

Some of the specialist equipment used included:

  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Finger pulse oximeter
  • Tuning fork
  • Heat pebble
  • Sensory touch tools
  • Eye occluder

The purpose of all these assessments and screens is to see why you run the way you do, and why you get the pain you get.

The time spent doing the history and assessments gives Chris the starting point to do highly personalised and specific work, tailored for how my body wants to work. This will make my return to running easier, more enjoyable, and a lot faster.

Stay tuned for more articles to follow my journey and our plans with White Star Running with Chris.

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