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Last Sunday, I happened to check the UCSF RunSafe site to look into the program, since I had read about it in the SF Chronicle and Runner’s World.  I was extremely lucky to discover they had one open spot for the following Tuesday so I quickly registered for it and was so glad I did.  The clinic accepts 4 runners per session, which is typically from 6pm-8pm Tuesdays.  You’re instructed to wear dark, form-fitting clothing so you can be more easily monitored during the video taped gate-analysis portion.  In all, there are four stations which each person rotates through:  nutrition, flexibility and strength, podiatry, and gate analysis.

My first stop was nutrition.  I got pointers on what to eat and when based on my current training levels and eating habits.  I learned I’m seriously deficient in fruits and veggies… Dang, and I thought fries counted (just kidding).

Next was strength and flexibility.  I dramatically failed a test where I had to stand on a box and then bend one leg while letting the other drop.  My bending leg waved like a flag in the air as I tried to balance and stabilize my leg.  It was worse on the leg with the cranky ITB.  I also failed the butt strength test.  Weany tushy.  Apparently, a lot of runners have weak booties, so I wasn’t the only one.  Also, a weak gluteus contributes to hip, knee and ITB problems.  That was a big lesson learned for me. (By the way – they highly recommended I do lots of “clams” – see here).

My podiatry test was fine.  I’m an Asics Gel Kayano devotee, supplemented by Superfeet Berry inserts and thick gel heel inserts.  They work for me so the podiatrist said stick with it.

My final station was the treadmill.  First they place hot pink dots on key areas (hips, ankles, knees, etc. – like in the photo above) then get you on the treadmill.  After a couple of minutes warming up at 12 min/miles, we upped it to 8:50 min/miles for 5 mins while the video taped rolled, monitoring my side and backside views (you get to choose the speed you run – they recommend running at your normal pace).

We were then asked to leave the room for a while so the pros could talk amongst themselves and assess our performance.  When we returned, they had a big screen up where each of us got to watch the others’ slow-motion, close-up of their legs, then full body, from the back view and side view (watching your butt jiggle in slow-mo is… ummm… humbling….).  We were given indiviidualized feedback from all the staff during this period and were also able to have all our questions answered.

The team concluded my form wasn’t too bad (at least I had fewer criticisms than my fellow runners) but my big admonition was to strengthen up my butt.  Bad butt.

One day later, I received a 20-page report sent via PDF to my email address with specific feedback on my form (my hip is dropping, one of my legs is rotating, etc.), and was also given loads of exercises and stretches to remedy the issues.  Also noted were comments from the other stations.  In a couple weeks, I’ll also be receiving a DVD of my slow-motion, close up analysis of my form (can’t wait for the repeat of slow-mo jiggle butt).

All in all, I would say the $199 for the session was well worth it.  There were more staff than runners (two surgeons, two physical therapists, a nutritionist, a video analyst, podiatrist, and tech guy) and everyone was very helpful, knowledgeable and kind.   With the information that I’ve learned – specific to my body – I feel much more confident about getting out there and pounding the pavement, not only in preparation for my NYC Marathon in a couple of weeks, but for future runs and races as well. 

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