Barb Campbell and Richard Ehrlich are not only husband and wife – professional engineer and dentist respectively – but they are also internationally ranked ultra-marathon runners. I might add that they are also quick learners and wonderful human beings! I feel blessed to have met and worked with them.
They came into my training world when Barb bid on and won a gift certificate donated by me to the C3 (Caledon Triathlon Club) annual fund-raiser in August, 2015. I had been approached by one of my barefoot running clients (Michelle Bolhuis – a C3 board member) to offer up my services. Of course, after 4 months of no contact, I actually forgot about the certificate. Then, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from Barb requesting a private run technique training session as per my gift certificate won by her. The rest, as they say, is history.
After working with Barb 2 weeks ago, she suggested a follow-up last week with her and her husband, Richard. My focus on injury prevention as it applies to running won Barb over. From there, Richard also wanted in on my ‘secrets’ to injury-free running. As ultra-marathoners, they put their bodies under extreme levels of physical and mental duress – regularly. A short race would be 20 kilometres on mountain trails whilst the average is more in the 50 kilometre to 50 mile range with many races much longer. They have raced in the Dolomites (Italian Alps) and the Canadian Rocky Mountains (the Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache, Alberta) as examples.
Injuries (Achilles tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, meniscus tears, neck strains, ankle sprains and low back muscle strains) were par for the course for both of them. As it turned out, neither had any formal training in how to run safely and efficiently. After determining that both Barb & Richard had left hip restrictions (their left legs showed as shorter than their right) with flat left feet and no proprioceptive activation from the feet up, I proceeded to have them use:
the Functional Chain Trainer (see photo below) and the Health Bridges levels 1 and 2I then unlocked their left hips using the pelvic stretch (see photo below)combined with low side to side full leg swings to opposite hand from supine position and double bent knee tuck swings to each outstretched arm. I finally got them running barefoot using my Squat-Scoot technique of tight, light, compact, forward running.
They both were heavy footed runners with hips dropping and arms flailing. By the time we finished the drills 1 hour later, they were both totally unlocked, symmetrical (legs the same length and hips square) and running light, quiet and quick with NO pain.
Knowing that they will NOT run barefoot, I put them in the Barefoot-Science insert system (see photo below) which simulates the proprioceptive and synergistic firing from the feet as if they WERE barefoot. They put these into their most frequently used trail shoes and immediately noticed the firing impact of the plug system in the arches of their feet. They were sold on the merits of mid-foot, bent knee, full body bracing, heel flicking and forward knee driving for injury-free trail running.
I know that virtually all of us are asymmetrical, locked up and unbalanced. I also know, like Barb and Richard, you can be fixed to ensure safe, efficient activity…whether barefoot or in some form of ‘coffin’ (running shoe) with the Barefoot-Science inserts. Don’t live with avoidable pain any longer. Follow the coach’s injury prevention guide highlighted in this blog and reap the rewards.