I know it’s shocking but it turns out biking from San Francisco to LA, running a marathon, and hiking the Inca Trail all within two months and without stretching even once is a bad idea.

Who knew?

But here I am 8 months later, having just limped along on my first run since July 2016 yesterday [March 27, 2017]. Incidentally, yesterday was also the day I registered for my course to become a certified Physical Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

The Injury That Started It All

Let me back up and explain how I got here. Last summer, I participated in the AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I biked almost 1000 miles during the spring to train for it.  Just a few weeks after the ride, I ran the San Francisco Marathon. The very next day, I flew to Peru to hike the treacherous 55-mile Inca Trail through the Andes.

On my last day in Peru, I was walking down the steps of the Lima Cathedral, and something in my foot just snapped. I heard a pop and fell to the ground. I wasn’t able to run again until yesterday, over 8 months later.

At first, I thought it was a sprain that would heal in a week or two. I saw a doctor who prescribed the typical remedy for a sprain – rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). After 6 weeks of this, I was still limping, so I went to a physical therapist. The therapist focused on strengthening my foot muscles and calves but two months of therapy yielded zero improvement.

Recovery & My Journey to Become a Personal Trainer

I decided to seek additional care in December. My second physical therapist finally discovered why I wasn’t getting better. All the bike training I did last year, compounded by running and hiking without stretching, had tightened up my quads and hip-flexors so much my glutes and hamstrings were almost completely unable to function. In addition, my hip-flexors had become so gristled and taut that it changed the way I walked on the arches of my feet. This, in turn, aggravated a tendon in my foot. I was only feeling the pain in my foot and was completely clueless about its root cause further up in my hip.

Since December, I’ve been on a strict regime of recovery.  This has included hip and quad stretches as well as exercises to build up my glutes and hamstrings after years of neglect. I’ve also had sessions of torturous foam rolling along my thighs and hips. Slowly (very slowly), I’ve been making progress. My foot went from hurting every step to hurting only when I didn’t have inserts in to only hurting after long walks.  Now, it doesn’t even hurt after a short run.

So how does this result in me seeking a physical training certification? Here’s the answer:

To heal from this injury, I’ve had to relearn all the foundational aspects of exercise.  I’ve done so many basic movements wrong, and only now am I learning to focus on form, quality, and consistency. My injury revealed how ignorant I am about how my body works. It also taught me how easy it is to face injury because of improper form, stretching, or technique.

What Personal Training Means to Me

For me, exercise and fitness is a critical component of my overall satisfaction with life. It’s directly tied to my emotional and mental wellbeing.

Now that I’ve embraced holistic health, I’ve decided to invest time and energy into learning about physical health in the same way I’ve invested time and energy into my mental, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. After talking with several trainers and doing some research, The National Academy of Sports Medicine emerged as the most reputable, established program.

Veteran personal trainer Greg Anderson wrote, “Wellness is not a ‘medical fix’ but a way of living – a lifestyle sensitive and responsive to all the dimensions of body, mind, and spirit, an approach to life we each design to achieve our highest potential for well-being now and forever.”

I’m doing NASM because I want to fully embrace a well-rounded healthy lifestyle and work towards being the best version of myself. As I go through the course, I’m excited to share my revelations, struggles, and insights in this blog series. I’d also like this to be the start of a dialogue with you.

Let me know your reactions to what I’m learning, as well as your questions, or personal experiences with fitness. We’ll explore lots of topics on this blog, and I’m looking forward to learning from you.

Follow Jacob’s journey to becoming a personal trainer here.