In this edition of ‘In the Spotlight,’ let’s talk with Carol Hough. I met Carol for the first time over a year ago when she attended one of my learn-by-doing seminars at Fleet Feet Sports Nashville. We scheduled a consultation and I was very excited that she was ready to incorporate strength training to support her knee and supplement her running program.
From the beginning, we knew it would be a slow and steady process to begin implementing strength training within the limits of knee pain. Carol stuck with the program for over a year now and has showed strong improvements in many areas!
In addition to her dedication each and every week, Carol brings an upbeat personality and “heckling” sense of humor to each session. To say we have fun is an understatement! And, to get results while doing it is what makes doing what I do so enjoyable.
Without further ado, let’s shine the spotlight on…
Q: Where are you from?
A: “I am originally from a little town called Leechburg which is approximately 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, PA. And, I moved to TN with my job in 1991.”
Q: What do you do for work?
A: “Project Manager in the Underwriting Dept. at Cigna Healthcare.”
Q: When you aren’t working, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
A: “Running and cycling tend to be where I spend the most of my time outside of work. I also enjoy hiking and reading but they tend to take a back seat to running, cycling and of course, Garrett’s strength training class for runners!”
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be? Why?
A: “Hmmm, good question! After I retire and do more exploring of other countries, I’ll get back to you with an answer on this one!”
Q: You have been known to be called “The Heckler,” do you see yourself as a prankster?
A: “No, I don’t think of myself as a prankster. Although I have pulled some good pranks over the years, they are few and far between. I tend to save my ‘heckling’ for folks I appreciate and have fun being around.”
Q: When you first started working with Garrett, what were the goals you wanted to achieve?
A: “I believe my goal was to strengthen the legs so that I could continue to enjoy running. Due to the arthritis in my knee, it had become more painful to do any kind of distance running or even walking several miles at a time.”
Q: What motivated you to work with Garrett and/or start making changes in your routine?
A: “Arthritic knee issues where I knew that if I wanted to continue running that I needed to do some strength training. I’ve found that I tend to improve more when training with others vs. doing thing exercises on my own. After researching available classes at the Y and other trainers, I attended one of Garrett’s clinics offered at Fleet Feet and was impressed by how he ran the clinic given that folks were at all different levels of ability.”
Q: You’ve had a history of knee pain; do you feel strength training has helped you function better and with less pain?
A: “Yes, strength training has definitely helped and I’ve been able to run some without the knee brace. I’ve also noticed that my knee is more stable when doing the various exercises during class as well as when running without the knee brace. In the fall of last year, I decided to do the ‘Mega Hike’ (26.2 miles) at Long Hunter State Park knowing that I would probably not be able to do the entire distance due to my knee issues and the fact that I hadn’t trained for it. To my surprise, I was able to complete the entire distance without being in too much pain during it or afterwards and I really believe it was due to all the strength training I had been doing with Garrett’s class.”
Q: What are some of the exercises that you really have to focus more intently on due to the knee?
A: “Although I’ve significantly improved on Step Ups and am now doing them with weights, I still have to focus on the stability of my bad knee when doing them.”
Q: Are there specific exercises that you feel are the most beneficial for you?
A: “I guess I’d say the ones where I’m able to see how stable the knee is while doing them such as: Lunges, 2 DB Step Ups, DB Split Squat, Squats in general. However, I’m sure there are others that help as well.”
Q: Since joining the group training program, what are the most noticeable improvements you’ve seen so far?
A: “Most notable is being able to actually do the 2 DB Step Ups with confidence. I’ve also seen lots of improvements with upper body strength and core exercises. And most importantly, I’ve been able to run some without my knee brace without worrying about my balance (knee stability).”
Q: Were these improvements easy to achieve? And, tell us a little bit about any struggles along the way.
A: “The improvements so far probably took longer as I’m not good at doing the corrective exercises that Garrett prescribed on a daily basis. (Sorry Garrett!) I’m focused 100% during our classes but with running 3 days a week, cycling or spinning 2 days a week, Garrett’s class one day a week, 1 rest day a week — my weekly exercise routine is full. I tend to prefer exercising after work and find it difficult to get up any earlier during the week in order to fit in my corrective exercises. However, this year I am now trying to do them on my rest day. ☺ As to other struggles, I would get frustrated at times (and still do) when encountering a new exercise which I wasn’t able to do – most recently it was the Super Plank! Sometimes I was able to acclimate to the new exercise faster than other exercises so that at least I saw improvement. Haven’t been successful yet though with the Super Plank so need to work on that one!”
Q: What are your thoughts on the group training program?
A: “I absolutely love the group training program! The camaraderie of the group is great and we often encourage each other, at least when we aren’t heckling Garrett. The monthly training program is helpful in that we know what we’ll be working on that month. I love the variety in the exercises we do so that it’s not always the same things. During class, Garrett makes sure that our individual form is correct and he makes certain that he knows how you’re doing that week too. So although it’s a group class/training program, I still think there is a lot of individual instruction/attention provided.”
Q: How do you feel strength training impacts your daily life and running?
A: “I’ve seen improvement in my balance/stability given my knee issues as well in my core has benefited as well. In addition, the strength training has helped me improve upon my upper body strength. All of these things working together will allow me to continue running and being very active in hiking, cycling, etc.”
Q: What is that one thing you dislike the most but continue to work on because you know it will help?
A: “At first it was the bear crawls, but I’ve improved there. Currently it is the Super Plank as I’ve not yet been successful in doing the # of reps we’re supposed to do.”
Q: How do you feel Garrett’s services may differ from other professionals in his field?
A: “I believe that Garrett’s friendly personality along with the way he encourages us, regardless of where we are in our abilities, is one of the differences. Garrett gets to know his athletes and is able to quickly adjust an exercise to meet our specific needs when necessary. The monthly training program that Garrett sends out is awesome, especially since he includes links to videos of the exercises so we can see how to do them correctly. I also think that the Orthopedic/Functional Evaluation that Garrett does on a quarterly basis sets him apart from other professionals. Following the evaluation, Garrett provides us with our individualized corrective exercises and works with us to further tailor them to our needs, when necessary.”
Q: Looking ahead, do you have any new goals or races you are working towards in 2019?
A: “This year I want to focus on continuing to improve my stability and begin improving my running pace as it’s definitely not where it was due to the knee issues. My slower pace is messing with me mentally as far as signing up for any races but I need to get over it and just do it!”
Thank you for reading this ‘In the Spotlight’ segment. And, a big shout out to Carol Houghl! Please feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback.