At 24, I found my way to running. You know those people who running seems to come naturally for? The, “I’ve never run before, but wow I ran a 10k in 40 minutes” kind of people? Not me. I wasn’t fast, it wasn’t easy, and my judgments about those things made it hard for me to call myself “a runner”. Nevertheless, I dove in completely. I ran as many races as I could and set long term goals like running a half marathon in every state to keep me running for many years to come. Over the course of a few years, I fought hard against my inner critic and judgments to begin believing in the inclusivity of running. It took time, but I truly began feeling that I belonged in the community and I could proudly say and believe “I am a runner!”.
At 28, for that identity to be challenged or threatened to be taken away was devastating. Over the course of training for a 50k, my longest race yet, my hip started bothering me. A slow, nagging feeling that I kept running on (stupidly) that eventually had me limping even when walking. I sought PT and it helped a bit. Enough for me to rest, recover, and actually still manage to run the 50k on whatever endurance training I had built up before the injury got too bad. However, since then, any regular running practice would cause my hip to flare right back up. More than 3 days a week? Pain. More than 5 miles? Pain. I began thinking the brief and lovely chapter in my life as “a runner” was over.
At 31, I began PT at Girl Fit and it was everything I needed. It was validating; my pain (both physically in my hip and emotionally in my fear of losing running) was understood. It was informative; I learned more about my body, my muscles, my form during exercises and while running, than I ever thought possible. It was supportive and patient; I found learning and adopting a new running gait incredibly unnatural, frustrating, and defeating and my therapist patiently persisted in teaching me this more efficient form. It was motivational; when I finally began the return to running progression and realized I could barely run for a minute straight, my despair and tears were met with kindness and encouragement that if I could stick with this I would eventually be a stronger runner than I had ever been before. And simply and most importantly, it worked! I’m overjoyed to say that upon graduating from PT at Girl Fit, I am stronger and faster than I have ever been, even pre-injury, and I’m able to run regularly without pain! I am so incredibly grateful to Girl Fit Physical Therapy for all the wisdom, guidance, reassurance, and support! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because of you, GirlFit, I can once again say,
“I am a runner.” – Erica Beachy