In 1985 I was sitting in a house I shared with 4 other guys. We were watching the Ironman broadcast on tv when one of my roommates said “Dave, you should do that race”. My answer was an emphatic “hell no,those people are crazy”. A little more that two years after that I was wading in the water off the Kailua Pier in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii about to start in my first ever Ironman. It was crazy. This is also right around the time I started having balance trouble in my hips.
My Own “Injury” Problem
The hip issue. I figured the hip issue was just overuse. I went to the chiropractor to get it fixed and they diagnosed me with a leg length discrepancy. They said my left leg was much shorter than my right. They prescribed orthodics, one with a lift in it. For roughly 3 years I trained hard, raced hard and limped a great deal. I’d break that orthodic roughly every 6 weeks. Literally snap it in half. Then I’d replace it and keep going. The pain in my hip got so bad that I quit running. For 2 years I worked, talked running a great deal but didn’t run a step.
Then one night we had a friend over for dinner. He had been in New Zeeland learning some new functional training methods and was coming back to San Diego to start work with the master trainer. We got to talking about running and I relayed my story. He asked me to stand up, do some marching in place with my eyes closed. He had to turn in circles and then said “open your eyes when you think you’ve come back to the original point”. I opened my eye’s and was 3 feet away looking in a completely different direction. He wrote a phone number down and said go see this guy. He said “the issue is not in your hips. That’s where you feel the pain. The issue is at the top of your vertebrae. Your head is not balanced on your top vertebrae.” A big aha moment for me personally and for the way I work with runners. Most of the time I look at runners and tell them something that is really similar to what my buddy told me in the kitchen. The pain you are feeling is not the source it’s the reaction. The source is somewhere up or down the chain that makes up the running gait.
Here’s the issue. I had a really bad bike crash in college. I hit my head really hard. The doctors did a great job patching me up. What they didn’t know was the knock on my head had set my head off balance. For almost 10 years I tried to compensate for my heavy head. The guy my buddy sent me to adjusted my head. Two visits and I was running straight again.
Fixed and Ready for More
I did my second Ironman in Kona in 1997 and then did a string of Ironman races all over the USA. It’s not just Ironman of course. I’ve run a number of marathons, trail marathons and a couple ultras.
Today I do much less racing but I still do much of the same training. I’m a runner with a triathlon problem. Running is my favorite of the three sports and it’s also the most frustrating. Age affects running more than it does cycling or swimming. Bad habits affect running more than they do cycling or swimming. I’ve learned I can’t run like I did when I was 24. I’ve also learned that if I take care of myself through all the things I will teach you to do, I can run for much longer. I’m proud to say I’m 53 years old and feel like I’m in great running shape right now.
Running has taken me around the world. More to the point, running shoes have. I’ve run on every continent but Anatartica and currently have run in 27 countries. I’ve been to four Summer Olympics and I’ve had the the opportunity to work with multiple World Champions and Olympians.
On the family side, I met my wife at the Peach Tree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia. We’ve been married for 24 years. Our son who chose running as his sport on his own, is a US Marine today.