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Jason Lakritz blogs about his disappointment in not being able to run the Chicago Marathon.

Posted in Team Finish Line.

November 16th, 2012

Returning From Injury

Hello everybody! My name is Jason Lakritz, and I am a physical therapist at Finish Line Physical Therapy. We treat a lot of runners from the NYC area, which is awesome for me because I am also a competitive runner. Perfect combination! This mesh of physical therapy and running is why I decided to write this blog. I want you, the reader, to learn something about rehabilitation, training, and the value of physical therapy in both rehabbing an injury and experiencing performance gains. I hope this can be an ongoing dialogue, so please keep the conversation going by leaving any comments, questions, or thoughts via Facebook. And for any injured runners out there, I hope this blog gives you both an insight into the process of returning from injury and the confidence that you will be able to run—and run well—again soon.

What do I mean when I say I am a competitive runner? Here’s a little history of my running career. I ran at Florida State University from 2005-09 and at Long Island University from 2009-10. I am most proud of my 23rd-place finish at the 2008 NCAA South Regional race (cross country), which got me on the All-South Region team. To some people that might sound weird because it’s not a PR (and I didn’t really care about the time), but to me it was the culmination of four years of very, very hard work. I walked on to the team my freshman year and didn’t even finish a workout for two months. I actually finished dead last on a three-mile time trial we had the first weekend I was there—and I even PR’d by 30 seconds that race! I didn’t make a varsity race my first three years there, but I was close. That senior season was amazing. At the South Regional, everything came together perfectly. It’s one of the few times I have felt the pure beauty of running.

Now that I’m out of school, I run with Urban Athletics, a running store between 91st and 92nd on Madison Avenue. I participate in many NYRR races at various distances thoughout the year.  I also began to run marathons in the last few years—three, to be exact, with a PR of 2:36:25 in Detroit in 2010. I did New York in 2011. All I can say is, it was a hellish race and a very humbling experience.

How can I relate to all the runners in the running community?  Every runner knows that injury is a part of our sport, and along with that is the rehabilitative process and the reintegration back into running. As a PT, I have a good perspective on the rehabilitation aspect of this process. Many PTs say they can help you get back to running, but most don’t really understand the toll it takes on the body, mind, and spirit. But I can relate. I know what you’re thinking because I’ve also been experiencing it myself for the past month.

Like many people I was training for the Chicago Marathon on October 7… but then I couldn’t run that race because of injury—a stress fracture in my sacrum (tail bone). I had to wait for my insurance to authorize an MRI to confirm the treatment, then for the results of the MRI. Terrible timing!!! I trained very hard for this race. I ran 80 miles a week, many of those miles before the sun came up and all of those miles during this unbelievably hot summer. If I could do anything to run the race, I would do it (many of you probably feel the same way). Running with a stress fracture is not smart, and after about one day of considering it (and trying), I shut it down. I will not run again for awhile.

So in the meantime, I would like to use this blog to take you through my rehab, recovery, and training as I get back into running and racing. As, I go through this journey I will give tips from my experience as a runner and as a therapist. And please don’t think that because I can run faster than most, that this won’t apply to you! At the end of the day, no matter how fast we run, we’re all following similar theories. Take what I have to say and apply it to yourself specifically.

Here’s my first tip: No race is worth trying to run through a real injury that may get worse from running. I know it’s hard to give up something that you have worked so hard to get to, but there will be more races in the future. If you really enjoy the sport and want to accomplish something great—whether it’s finishing the marathon or trying to run 2:25—you will enjoy it much more if you are healthy.

Here’s tip #2: Make goals and then make a plan to reach those goals. I have made two goals that will help organize my training to get back to competitive running. I want to run a 5K PR (14:46) in March, and then on to the ultimate goal: a sub-1:07 at the Philadelphia Half-Marathon next September.  I am excited to go through this process and hope you will enjoy it too.

So, let’s hear it: What are your goals? Any questions to kick off the conversation? Leave a comment below!

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