Case Study
Name: Minda Critchlow,  Age: 37,  Years Running: 4

Best Performance(s):
Best 5k – 27:15
Best 10k – 1:03
Half Marathon – 2:17

How did you start running?

In 2011, our first baby was born and was soon followed by our second, just 15 months later. Pregnancy was not a pleasant experience for me at all – I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which is a heritable disorder of connective tissue. My pelvis was permanently dislocated during pregnancy, I had to use crutches or a wheelchair and I was not able to care for our children. My joints would often sublux or fully dislocate without trauma (even in my sleep). EDS is a debilitating condition and my pain levels can go from 0/10 to 10/10 within any 24 hour period. When the hormones from pregnancy started to subside (about 6 months postpartum), the frequency of my dislocations reduced and I knew I had to do something to ‘get strong again.’

Four years ago, I started to work with a personal trainer who transformed my life and became a very good friend. With her support, I slowly began to develop muscle strength and learned how to move correctly without over-extending my joints and ligaments. At the age of 14, I was told I would never be able to run and I wasn’t allowed to take part in PE at school – but my amazing personal trainer taught me differently. Running has become my passion; my escape. I don’t strive to be fast, just to enjoy the freedom I get from running.

In 2016, I had our third (and final!) baby and unfortunately, no amount of training could offset the effects of pregnancy hormones and I was confined to a wheelchair again. My youngest is now 2 and I have just completed my first half marathon in September 2018.

What are your running ambitions?

I would like to do a marathon before I am 40. I will run for as long as I enjoy it and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.

Have you changed your diet to help your running, and if so, how?

When I started to work with my PT, she looked at my diet and although it was already good, we made a few small changes (I wasn’t eating enough fat and I also reduced refined carbohydrates). I always cook from scratch and stick to clean eating as much as possible. After all, you are what you eat! Eating well is a way of life for my family and I so I don’t find it difficult. I also don’t judge my success by my weight on the scales but by muscle mass and how I feel.

What running shoes of you use?

I currently run in Brooks Glycerin 16 but my ‘secret weapon’ has been my custom-made orthotics. Prior to having these, I was plagued with shin and calf pain and I had nearly resigned myself to the fact that I could no longer run. Custom orthotics were my last resort – I’d tried physio, stretching, foam rolling, massage, chiropractic etc. I wear orthotics in all of my shoes now and I cannot believe the difference they have made to my life – not just when running, but every single day.

How do you keep yourself injury free?

When I started working with my PT, I began with HIIT workouts of 30 mins, 5 days a week. When she suggested I tried running to add a bit of variety, I fell in love with it and started to run 5 days a week instead of the HIIT sessions, but I have learned that a balanced approach is the best way for me. With my condition, I can’t run well if I’m not strong, so now I run 3 days a week (not on consecutive days) and supplement that with as much cross-training as I can fit in (with three young children and part-time work!). My cross training is varied and includes pilates, yoga, HIIT, weights and spin (which I do at home) and when I can, I go to a high-intensity aqua class. I also love aqua running when I’m in the middle of a pain flare because it is the only way I can continue to train.

What is your best advice to a new runner?

I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this, but I would have to say listen to your body. Your body is constantly trying to reach a state of homeostasis and if you allow it, it will tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are.

If you could run with anybody in history, who would it be and why?

Kathrine Switzer because she was told she couldn’t do it – so she did.