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How Allan Overcame Piriformis Syndrome (and became an athlete)

Can you ever imagine running 3:17 in your first marathon – and still not consider yourself a “real” runner?

running healthy

Me neither.

But Allan is a runner who felt that way. After his speedy debut at 26.2, he still felt like something was missing.

Allan committed to serious running in 2015 and ran his first marathon in the fall of 2016. He did a lot of things right in his training by progressively increasing his mileage and including a variety of workouts.

But throughout the training and after his race, Allan recalled that he:

“felt very one-dimensional in my running and did not really feel like a runner.”

How could that be?

A Pesky Piriformis

During marathon training, Allan developed piriformis syndrome – quite literally, a pain in the butt.

The piriformis is located deep in the glutes behind the gluteus maximus. Piriformis syndrome occurs when a tight piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. Pain can occur in the glutes and radiate down the leg.

Although Allan was able to finish the marathon successfully, he wanted to get rid of his piriformis pain so he could resume training after his recovery.

He got a lot of benefit from Strength Running’s free injury prevention series but he wanted every advantage.

After investing in the comprehensive Injury Prevention for Runners program, he went through all of the program material in its entirety and committed himself to every aspect of staying healthy.

One specific element of prevention stood out to Allan: the importance of a dynamic warm-up:

The dynamic warm up definitely helps me at the start of a run. I find I am always “up and going” right from the start of the run, whereas before, it was normal to have a very sluggish first kilometer before I started feeling “normal.”

But a simple dynamic warm-up is just one aspect of staying healthy. Soon, Allan went all-in.

A Commitment to Athleticism

Allan originally planned to pay for a gym membership but was pleased to find that the routines could all be done with little or no equipment. This saved him a time-consuming trip and hundreds of dollars per year.

He was also surprised by their intensity:

 At first, I thought the strength training was on the “light” side (I guess I thought I needed to be flinging weights around in a gym to get real benefit).

However, after my first go at the Stiletto routine, I was amazed to find how sore my glutes were a few hours later (as one example). And that was just one set, at the lowest reps for each exercise.

In order to stay healthy and continue training consistently, runners have to do more than just run. The body needs a strong foundation to handle increasing mileage, workouts and races.

Running alone doesn’t accomplish this. This is where strength, core and flexibility work builds you into a strong and capable athlete – not just a runner.

And as Allan demonstrated, this does not require hours in the gym with heavy weights.

When it came to commitment, Allan went all-in with Injury Prevention for Runners.

With a tighter focus on general athleticism, variety, dynamic flexibility, and runner-specific strength Allan quickly began to reap the rewards.

But it’s important to note that you don’t need to train like an elite or spend hours cross-training every week. Allan was pleased with the structure of the training plan, calling the setup “brilliant” at maximizing adherence.

Allan correctly realized early on that running was only one part of being a healthy, fast runner.

The other components to the program weren’t “extras” – they were truly a necessity to stay healthy and become a more well-rounded athlete.

Making these strength and core sessions part of your routine requires a commitment, but the long-term benefits are tremendous.

A Comprehensive Approach

Allan Success Story

Once Allan learned to approach his running differently, he no longer felt like something was missing from his training. He was becoming not only a faster, stronger runner but also a more well-rounded athlete.

Allan explains how he was able to see the bigger picture of successful running by working through Injury Prevention for Runners:

The most positive aspect is that the total plan is a comprehensive approach to becoming a robust, athletic runner.

Although I purchased the material “just” for the routines, when I read the whole thing cover-to-cover, I came away with a lot more insight.

The program finally gave Allan clarification on:

  1. Why strength training is important
  2. How to do it in a sustainable way
  3. How to warm up appropriately for a run
  4. How to plan workouts with variety
  5. Cues to improve running form
  6. The impact of a sedentary lifestyle (he decided to change to a standing desk!)

If you have spent much time on Strength Running, you have probably heard me say, “Consistency is the secret sauce of successful running” (we even have a t-shirt about it!).

As a result of this consistency, Allan has seen fantastic results. I asked him about some of his results and he told me:

My piriformis injury is almost gone (and getting constantly better, I expect it to be gone completely soon).

My legs feel much less burnt out between workouts.

I’ve developed a better sense of athleticism.

This program has stimulated a lot of curiosity; over the past month I have read Born to Run and Running with the Kenyans and have just generally become more a student of running.

Whether you have been frustrated by ongoing injuries or are just trying to see the bigger picture of your running, Strength Running’s injury prevention material may help.

Allan’s final piece of feedback says it best:

I recommend this to anyone who wants to progress from someone who runs to an athletic runner. It is a comprehensive and total approach that gets you going in all the right ways.

Suddenly I’m feeling like there are so many ways I can improve and I am not just going on runs, but rather developing more broadly as a runner.

You can’t ask for more than that!

The most poignant aspect of Allan’s recovery and transformation as a runner is that he now knows that there are many ways he can improve.

He doesn’t just need higher mileage. Or harder workouts. Or years of grueling long runs.

Allan has the knowledge and resources to continue progressing for years.

And isn’t that what we all want? Progress?

If that sounds like you, I invite you to get our free series about injury prevention. I think you’ll love it.

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