Claire Fox is no stranger to the Bodyneed team. Since returning to Auckland six years ago and resuming running, the Bodyneed team have been working with Claire in one way or another, either with massage, physio or in one of our regular Pilates classes.
We recently learned a little bit more about Claire when she took on the High 50 Challenge (you can read more about this here) and her philosophy towards training, recovery and injury prevention caught our attention. We really wanted to learn more, so we grabbed the chance to pick her brains over a bite of lunch.
Q: How did the High 50 Challenge go?
A: Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do the run due to a plantar fascia injury. I was able to join the team along certain stretches on a mountain bike – while it was disappointing not being able to participate fully it was fabulous to still be able to be part of the challenge in some way.
Q: You’re no stranger to injury are you?
A: Ha ha – no! I suppose you could say I started my running career with injury limitations. I was inspired to take up running during an Outdoor Pursuits Adventure and, because I am a bit of a goal-setter, I had already made up my mind to complete a half marathon before I’d even really started running. Unfortunately I soon discovered that I couldn’t run without getting agonizing shin pain. I guess I could have quit then but I’d set my mind on the half marathon so I didn’t feel I could give up. I had to learn to run with the limitations of pain and injury.
Q: Did you just push through the pain? How did you manage it?
To start with I did but then I had to seek professional help. I didn’t really like the advice at first – I was limited to running for ten minutes a day on grass only. It was really hard to be forced to take it so slow. I was allowed to increase each run by one minute each week – so the first day it was ten minutes, the second week my runs were eleven minutes and so on. The amazing thing was that by taking it slowly, allowing my body to keep pace, I was able to run my first half marathon pain free within six months.
Q: You are a big fan of sports massage – we see you regularly at the clinic. Can you tell us why this is a permanent fixture in your life?
To start with, it was more of an indulgence than anything. When I lived in Bangkok I would get a therapeutic massage every week and this was something I wanted to keep up on my return Auckland. When I took up running it made sense to turn that into a regular sports massage instead. And I got hooked pretty quickly.
For me, the hook was two-fold. It was amazing to see how much quicker my body recovered when I was getting regular massage, but I also really enjoyed learning more about my body and how it functioned. When my therapist touched on a particularly sore muscle she’d explain where the pain was originating, and this knowledge really improved my performance.
Q: What are you doing at the moment to prepare for the Ultra marathon in February?
I’m still recovering from an injury so I am taking it easy. At the moment I am running in the Xterra Trail Run Series, which is a great start back. I can choose how far I run in each course. I’m also doing regular Pilates classes (I love the recovery class at Bodyneed – I kind of feel like I float out the door afterwards), getting regular massage and physio when needed, and doing what I can to listen to my body.
Q: Do you feel confident you’ll be running the Ultra marathon in February?
Yes absolutely! Watch this space!
Q: What are top tips/key learnings you’ve taken away from your running career?
No.1 – Ha, ha, Heels put more stress on your body than running!!
Since I had this injury I’ve discovered that I can run for an hour and half with no pain when wearing the right shoes but can’t even last an hour at work in a low heel (not running!).
No. 2 – Take your time and listen to your body.
Go slow and when you are getting started mix the running with walking breaks. I had to learn this the hard way but it was worth it. I also believe you need to take a holistic approach to looking after your body. My running coach James Kuegler is a strong believer in taking care of your body including Pilates, massage and stretching and it was James who got me started with Pilates after my first year of Coast to Coast.
No. 3 – Your body can take a long time to adapt, look after yourself – think about how slow I had to take it with shin pain!
There is no point in pushing yourself now if you it means you won’t be able to run when you are 70. This should be a long-term game – so it means making sensible choices and taking preventative measures.
No. 5 – Always, always have fun!
That means something different for everyone – for me it means scheduling social runs and running in nature. For someone else it might be time alone for the peace and quiet. Figure out what means fun for you and do that.
Good luck with you’re recovery Claire – we can’t wait to hear how you go in February!!