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‘My best running self’ |  Health beat

‘My best running self’ | Health beat

  • October 8, 2021

For years Laura Traxler, 35, called herself a lonely wolf runner. As an experienced half marathon runner, she always trained and ran alone.

If she was in pain, she would try to heal it herself.

A lot of runners do that.

“People think they can fix themselves, especially if they’re athletic, and they just kept saying, ‘I roll foam and stretch and take care of it.’ And that was definitely me, ”said Traxler.

Traxler, a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan, began casual jogging during her high school years in the Bay City area.

At first she ran for physical fitness, but she stuck with it for nearly 20 years because of the mental benefits.

“I really found a love for it because of the meditative, the therapeutic – you know, the mental health and all. I would run and just clear my head, ”she said.

“It just became part of my routine.”

When she got into her 30s, Traxler decided to trade her informal, solo running style for a more structured, team-based approach.

She applied for a place in Amway River Bank Run Road warrior team. Team members who agree to be event ambassadors train with coaches as they prepare for the downtown Grand Rapids street race.

“I’ve always said that I’m really good at arming my races heavily rather than actually training and becoming a solid runner,” said Traxler.

the team promised a training plan, responsibility, and a sense of camaraderie.

“That was what I wanted because I never had,” she said.

She made the team.

Because of the River Bank Run’s partnership with Spectrum Health, road warriors have access to quick appointments with the Spectrum Health Sports Medical Team.

For Traxler, this connection became the most important part of the Road Warrior program.

Her training for this year’s River Bank Run on October 23 builds on more than two years of orthopedic treatment and physical therapy to heal running-related hip and leg injuries.

Fatigue fracture

Traxler has come a long and winding road to the 2021 event.

She first joined the Road Warrior team in preparation for the race in May 2019. However, at the beginning of the training season, she felt pain in her hip and right leg.

She shrugged and kept running – until the pain got too bad. So she looked for it Matthew Axtman, DO, an orthopedic sports medic at Spectrum Health.

“During that time from February to March, I thought, ‘I can’t walk anymore, it’s too painful. Something really bad happened, ‘”she said.

Dr. Axtman ordered an MRI, which showed that Traxler had a Stress fracture in her right shin or shin.

He identified the perpetrator as overuse.

“Every time you run or do something with great effect, you will get small micro-traumas right down to your bones,” said Dr. Axman.

These microtraumas are normal, but if they continue the bone can develop a stress response – the bone swells and becomes weaker. And if an athlete continues to run on a painful, weakened bone, it can break.

“She ended up with a fatigue fracture of the bone because she kept walking, ignoring the symptoms a little, and not knowing exactly what was going on,” said Dr. Axman.

To solve the problem, the doctor immobilized Traxler’s leg in a walking shoe for six weeks and then referred her to physical therapy for another six weeks. When she could run again, the 2019 River Bank Run was over.

Sidelined by the stress fracture, she kept her place on the Road Warrior team for the May 2020 run.

“I had time to fully recover for 2020 and was fully operational. What a comeback, right? “She said with a laugh.” And then COVID hits. “

When the River Bank Run 2020 turned into a virtual run, the Road Warriors 2020 team stayed as a team in 2021 in the hope that the next annual run could take place in person.

“I think I’m the only road warrior who’s been here for three years,” said Traxler. “It’s a year-long program.”

Slow down to speed up

Traxler’s training in the intervening months had some problems – pain caused by tight tendons and minor muscle imbalances.

This time she was paying attention.

Instead of overcoming the pain, she worked with Dr. Axtman and her physical therapist together. Together they got her back on track and taught her what to look out for.

“Now it’s like, ‘Oh, I better get on today … before it gets too bad.’ Because I’ve been there before, ”she said.

“You need these professionals in your corner.”

This is what the orthopedic team is there for, said Dr. Axtman – to “get people back to their normal functions and activities that they enjoy doing”.

Since she is still in physical therapy for close iliotibial ligaments, Traxler plans to run the 10K instead of the 25K in this year’s River Bank Run.

She has learned not to take more than her body is ready.

“My younger self would push and make this 25 km,” she said. “But I think sometimes you have to slow down before you can go faster.”

She already has her sights set on the 2022 run if she hopes to be back in full shape.

“I really believe this will put me on a path where I will balance everything and then be my best running self.”

Thank You For Reading!


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