Tears Tenacity & Triumph

A Runners Tale

Meet Karen. The Marathon running mighty woman who kept us on our toes in her preparations for the legendary Virgin London Marathon 2016.

Karen kindly volunteered to share her experience of working with us to get her to the start line of this iconic race. We feel she tells a typical story of someone eager to perform but whose body struggled to keep up with the change in routine. Buckle up, it’s quite a ride…

August 2016

Karen: I’m asked to run a Marathon for a charity very close to my heart, I apply and I’m in!!!!

So, after only ever running on a treadmill for 1/2 an hour a week, I go running, a bit more running then more running, 2 weeks later I have pain in my knee, which then hurts all down my leg and can’t run anymore, my first visit to Strong Lines and I’m so glad I did.

I walk in very disheartened, as I believe I’m now not meant to run or even made for running and I am welcomed by Sasha who assures me that I am in the right place, 2 more friendly faces appear, James and Fred, who after a short chat also assure me that everything will be ok and that they can help.

During my first appointment, I was assessed on my strength, my weaker areas were highlighted (which I was unaware of). A programme was put in place alongside my running gait being assessed. I was running incorrectly and was advised to get different trainers to support my feet properly, this made a huge difference to my running ability and I was back to running pain free in 2 weeks. 

James: On initial assessment, we consider isolated and functional strength using a detailed mini screening process to highlight why the pain is occurring and not just the specific structure that is hurting. Karen showed an increase in mid/rear foot pronation and was advised to purchase a controlled running shoe, she also had a low running cadence which she was advised to increase.


October 2016

Karen: This was all going great until whilst doing an exercise class on a sticky floor, I noticed pain through my leg/ankle and felt like I had shin splints, it was really painful, here we go again!! Very disappointed and thinking that I’m now back to square 1, another visit to Strong Lines.

My injury was identified straight away and K-Tape was applied to support my ankle/shin. The plan now was to take control and monitor my exercise routine outside of my plan, but for the time being limit exercise until the pain had gone. My rehabilitation took I think about 2-3 weeks before being completely back to normal and pain free, which I was very pleased with.

James: Karen had increased her dynamic/plyometric load completing an exercise class at the gym, this combined with her increase of marathon training had caused a stress reaction to her medial tibial region, commonly known as shin splints. With this her “Tom, Dick and Harry” (Tibilais Posterior (TP), Flexor Digitorum Longus (FDL)  and Flexor Hallicus longus (FHL)) had become acutely reactive. This is not a big issue in the mind of a good therapist. We deloaded Karen from her training and applied K-tape to “offload” the reactivity of the tendons and to give her proprioceptive feedback whilst this settled down. Load management is a key success to being a good runner and is often overlooked. From this we decided Karen may require tighter guidance and her love for exercise classes had to be addressed. A focused training programme was designed for Karen incorporating progressive distance running and strength and conditioning along with a couple of her gym classes for intensity work. This gave a realistic programme to manage load appropriately whilst keeping it interesting. 


February 2017

Karen: My plan then on was shorter faster runs a couple of times a week, then a long run at the weekend, as well as strength, conditioning and pre-running exercises, including a few of my exercise classes which worked well for me, UNTIL….!!!

I do a 40-min run (great) power run uphill (not so great) then jump in a 40-degree hot tub with the jets on full blast (absolute NO NO) (worst injury ever).

I arrive at Strong Lines 1 hour later, a planned appointment, oblivious to what I had done, within 10 minutes James had identified a change in my flexibility and noticed that my glutes and hamstrings were really tight, and advised me to do lots of foam rolling and stretching and make another appointment shortly after to reassess and keep an eye. By the Monday I was in agony, back to Strong Lines, I had a bad injury to my bum, which was sending the pain down my hamstring, painful. I was reassured by James that he will fix it but it will take total commitment and focus on a strict exercise programme to allow my injury to heal and at the same time keeping me fit and strong enough to still complete a marathon. I followed this religiously which meant giving up all of my social exercise classes; it was hard but I had total confidence and trust in their professional advice. Sometimes I felt held back watching how others were training but knew I had to go with it, it payed off and I was running and training back in line with where I should be and pain free.

James: Karen at this stage had diverted away from the training plan where at the end of a planned run, did a sprint up a hill. This requires the body to isometrically load through the hamstrings, and this at worst had been completed at fatigue point. Then a 40-degree hot tub with jets on a tendon that had been loaded is a no no. Tendons do not like two things; increase/unnecessary load and compression. Karen had loaded her proximal hamstring tendon and glute med tendon. The acute reaction settled, allowing her to run again. Again, load management and a change in her programme allowed her to recover quickly and back to her marathon training.



April 2017

Karen: 3 weeks to go and I’m in Turkey on holiday, my 1st short run and I injure my ankle (running on uneven ground) I couldn’t believe it, it was so swollen and very painful. For the next few days I took Ibuprofen, rest and ice, but I genuinely believed that was it and I’m out of the Marathon, I was gutted but even in Turkey Strong Lines were there to help. I was doing the right thing, but was also advised to do some exercises to strengthen my calves and ankles to support and help my injured heal, this was my worst week ever but I was still able to keep in touch with James who was always there to help and guide me through it all. As soon as I got back my ankle was taped and my injury checked, I was still ok to run, SO RELIEVED, what a journey.

James: I found this injury interesting, again it is in the line of load, but not the amount she was running or even the distant. Load in this instance meant, the uneven ground in a foreign country (possibly different made footpaths) but also the unconscious recovery. We knew Karen had an increase in dynamic and static pronation collapse from her first session. What do you wear on holiday on your feet? That is also bad for altered foot mechanics? FLIPFLOPS or THONGS if you are from Australia. The dreaded fashion shoe that leaves you with ridiculous tan lines. Karen’s TP, FDL and FHL had to try and work over time to control the over pronation on uneven ground and then not being supported in her FLIPFLOPS. K-tape was encouraged to off load this with calf raises to get them stronger prior to the Marathon.


Karen: I can’t thank you enough Strong Lines and especially James for all your help, support, patience and expert advice all the way to the start line.

I ran 26.2 miles and completed the London Marathon.

2 major lessons:

  • Listen to the professionals
  • Don’t try anything new on Marathon day

e.g. have too many gels when you’re not used to them, BUT that is a different story!


You are an AMAZING TEAM.

Share This