The Biggest Step (so far…)

This time next week I will have completed my assessment to practice as a fully qualified Personal Trainer- hopefully successfully, but of course that depends on my performance on the day.  This slightly-overweight-middle-aged-woman, the person-least-likely-to-do-anything-sporty, seems to be, well, doing ok on the sport front.

The last few months have been quite a journey, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  The more I learn about the human body, anatomy & physiology, biomechanics and the psychology of exercise, the more I realise there is to learn, and the idea of working with clients to achieve their sport, fitness or health goals is daunting but extraordinarily exciting.

However, a wee fly in the ointment… I’m injured.

The psychology of injury is complex in one way, but simple in others: if you’re active, and enjoy it, being injured is hard!

My unique combination of biomechanical quirks (after all, we’re all unique) means I’ve developed an injury to my IT band, a notoriously difficult issue to fix.  Luckily I have a physio who is fascinated by such things, and so I’ve decided that, alongside advice from Sean Webb at Physio Inverness, I am going to conduct an experiment on myself.  I’m going to try out my own PT skills, programming my own training in order to strengthen my Glutes, rehabilitate my IT band, and eventually return to running.


First, I plan to use my sports coaching skills on myself: in a nutshell, I will need to learn to walk and run using different muscles.  It appears that – for 44 years – I have been using the muscles at the front of my hips to ‘pull’ myself forward, and particularly up hills or stairs, instead of using my Glutes to push me up those steps.  So for the last week – and from now on – I am trying to remember to always engage those glutes.  How do I know it’s working?  Well, using a self-check that my hips feel like they’re staying level… and my glutes feel tired, so they must be doing something!  As an added bonus though, if this works it will improve my balance, and help solve some issues caused by hyper mobility and a leg length discrepancy.

Secondly, I am going to keep running, but only for very short periods, and beginning very gently, just twice a week.   This – I hope- will allow me to slowly change my running gait.  Then, once I can do that pain-free, I can start to increase my running frequency, and eventually, its duration.

And finally, using the skills I’ve gained (and will continue to learn) during my PT training, I am going to work on strengthening those glutes.  Having taken advice from Sean the Physio, I’m confident I can incorporate appropriate exercises into a strength training programme for myself whilst also continuing to work on strength and power for the rest of my goals.

I first wrote this blog about two and a half years ago… how things have moved on since then!  All being well I will (I hope) qualify as a Personal Trainer at the end of this week, and begin the next stage of my journey, passing what I’ve learned onto clients in order to help them achieve their own goals.

My own journey continues, and I’m not sure which is more daunting; but for the next few months, I’ll be learning to walk in more ways than one.

3 thoughts on “The Biggest Step (so far…)

  1. Hi Zoe, loving your updates and progression with all your activities! Really inspiring. I’ve also got hip issues, and am intrigued to know that I may have been walking wrongly for 40+ years too! I was running reasonably regularly, park runs, occasional 10Ks, and really enjoying it, but a couple of years ago started to get really sore hips after runs, (was fine during the runs), but hip pain over the next days so much that it would waken me overnight! Impact stuff seems to do that to me now, so I’ve changed routine to gym workouts, with only a small amount of treadmill running, and other less impact cardio stuff, and general all over resistance stuff. Missing running, though, and would like to be able to get back into it. I’ve been meaning to look into couch to 5 K, as a means of gradually getting back into it, which may be OK if done slowly and incrementally, however, from what you say, it may be that I’m doing walking/running incorrectly and unless that is addressed, it will still be the same? I’ve had a gym check, and was advised to do glut stuff, and also a leg stretch machine, where you elevate one leg at a time, my range is much much less than average, so trying to work on gradually increasing it in this way. Do you have any info/links to the method of walking that you referred to, as that might be my issue too. Anyway, so pleased to see things are going really well for you, and hope to cross paths sometime, maybe music events or out and about somewhere. Best regards, Isobel McCormick.


    1. Hi Isobel. How frustrating for you! Unfortunately these things are never simple, and I couldn’t possibly say whether what you’re suffering from is the same as what I’m attempting to fix for myself… You might be interested to have a look at this link:

      I’m beginning to realise that fixing something like a biomechanical quirk in running or walking gait is rather more complex than just doing strengthening exercises. Running is a skill, which most of us seem to do pretty inefficiently- so most of all I’m using skill acquisition coaching on myself to retrain my gait: to teach the muscles what to do, and in the right order. I’m then using strength training exercises to strengthen the muscles that have been neglected, alongside the ones that haven’t.

      I know you play the fiddle – so trying to fix your running gait through just doing glutes exercises is a bit like trying to learn a tune by just strengthening your fingers 🙂

      My advice would be to see a physio, and ask them to look at your gait/ explain your situation. Then perhaps a PT who understands running… Or come to me 😉

      I hope that helps in some way – let me know how you get on, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress too! Good luck…


      1. Hi Zoe, thanks for your good information, I’ll get a look at the article in the link, looks interesting! I’ve seen a physio through my work, (I’m not convinced they were all that good though), and they mainly recommended glute exercises, which I’ve been incorporating into workouts but no great improvement so far. Will keep going though and see how it goes. An interesting concept though that it might be something which needs not only workout focus, but everyday movement focus too perhaps. Its been an absolute pleasure to see your progress with your posts, so glad to know all is going well for you! Isobel xxx


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