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Struggle to Strength: A Runner’s Journey to Pain-Free Performance

In the realm of physical endurance, few achievements match the exhilaration of crossing the finish line after months of training, sweat, and determination. Today, we share a remarkable testimonial from one of our clients whose journey embodies the essence of perseverance and resilience.

Meet Jess, a passionate runner whose story testifies to the transformative power of physical therapy and unwavering commitment. Like many aspiring athletes, Jess embarked on her running journey with zeal, yet faced hurdles that threatened her goals.

In her own words, Jess recounts her initial endeavors into the world of running, where every step forward was met with resistance and discomfort. Despite her dedication, persistent pain and fatigue interfered with her progress, culminating in a distressing experience during her first marathon—a trial by fire that left her physically and emotionally depleted.

Yet, adversity serves as the ultimate self-discovery journey, and Jess emerged from her marathon experience with newfound clarity. Recognizing the integral role of strength training in achieving her running aspirations, she sought guidance from Onyx Physical Therapy and Wellness, driven by a desire to reclaim her passion without compromising her well-being.

Under the expert guidance of Dr. Jo, Jess began her journey to mobility, balance, and strength. Through dedication and perseverance, she not only alleviated her persistent pain but also unlocked newfound levels of performance and joy in her pursuits.


Read Jess’s full Testimonial:

I ran one mile for the first time in my life on May 19, 2022. I was slow, my heart rate was very high, and I could barely breathe. But for the first time, I saw myself as a runner. When I first started running, it was painful, tiring, and not something I looked forward to. I loved the feeling of accomplishment I felt after running, but I had to force myself to get out to run and I had to push myself to finish each run. I was determined to be a runner, and I held onto the hope that with enough practice, discipline, and hard work, I would one day be able to look forward to and enjoy running.

I had been told by coaches and mentors how important strength training is for runners, but it is something that I have always hated. I was not able to consistently get myself out to the garage to strength train, so I joined a CrossFit gym. I trained consistently for six months and built up enough strength to be able to increase my running volume from one mile to fourteen miles. Five months after running my first mile, I ran a half marathon race in Lake Tahoe. The more I ran, the more I loved running. I was able to run further than I ever thought possible, and I did not want to do anything else. The more I would run, the less time I made for strength training. The volume of my running increased drastically as I started training to run the Huntington Beach Marathon. I spent the four months leading up to the marathon running almost every day with no strength training. Every week that passed, I could feel each run getting more difficult for my body, but I convinced myself it was due to the additional running volume, not loss of strength.

On February 5th, 2023, I ran my first marathon. I felt strong until I started the 19th mile. Right as I passed the mile marker sign, my right knee felt like it was going to burst and my hips and feet started to ache. The pain in my knee was excruciating and the run turned into a hobble for the remaining 7.2 miles. I refused to walk, because I was out there to run a marathon, but every foot strike was torture. By the end of the race, the pain was so severe that I could not see or talk, and my entire body was shaking. I had to stop running for a month to recover after the marathon, and even after that I had pain in most of my lower body for several months.

Lessons learned the hard way are very valuable because they are not easy to forget. I knew I needed strength training to be able to keep running, and I knew I couldn’t trust myself to get it done on my own. I started going to group strength training classes five days per week. Strength training was helping me get stronger and leaner, but I was still having pain from the damage I had already done. I was also performing movements that my body was not ready for and sustained further injuries to my calves and shoulder.

My coach suggested that I go to Onyx Physical Therapy and Wellness to see if there was anything they could do to help. I still secretly hated strength training, but I was willing to try anything to get out of pain so I would be ready for the huge races I had coming up. I started working with Dr. Jo to improve my mobility, balance, and work on strength training. The movements and holds that I learned in physical therapy slowly started to relieve the pain I had been feeling. I continued working with Dr. Jo on exercises that would activate the muscles I needed for running, and more advanced strength training movements. Slowly my body was no longer sore during or after running. I consistently kept up with the programming that I was prescribed and started getting faster and was able to run further without pain. I completed a 15K (9.48 miles) race this past weekend, and I hit an all-time PR for pace at every distance. The longest training run I had done to prepare for the 15K was four miles, and combined with the strength training, it was plenty to be able to run the race. During the race, my whole body felt strong, running felt effortless, pain-free, and I felt like I could keep going forever.  I LOVE running and hiking, but now that I have seen how strength training can make the things that I love more fun, effortless, and pain free, I have learned to appreciate and enjoy strength training too.

– Jess

If you resonate with Jess’s journey and seek personalized support to overcome your own physical challenges, take the first step toward your transformation. Schedule an appointment with Onyx Physical Therapy and Wellness today, and let us help you realize your full potential, pain-free.

Jess’s story is a testament to determination, resilience, and expert guidance culminating in a triumphant return to the sport she loves. I hope her story inspires you to pursue your passions, unwavering in your pursuit of excellence.

At Onyx Physical Therapy and Wellness, we are honored to be part of Jess’s journey and remain committed to empowering individuals to thrive in body, mind, and spirit.In the realm of physical endurance, few achievements rival the exhilaration of crossing the finish line after months of training, sweat, and determination. Today, we share a remarkable testimonial from one of our clients whose journey from struggle to strength embodies the essence of perseverance and resilience.