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Wimbledon Clinics

On the road… with Stacey Baker, Return to Run participant

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What do you spend your time doing?

Stacey Baker_June 2016.jpg

I’m a treatment coordinator at Wimbledon Clinics, so I look after the consultants or specialists. My daily checklist involves overseeing whichever consultants are in clinic that day, as well as scheduling appointments for their patients – one consultant is a spinal surgeon, so I deal a lot with his theatre bookings. I’ve been part of the team since October last year when I relocated to Wimbledon, from Icklesham in East Sussex. It’s a lovely group of people.

How did you get into running?

Back in Sussex, I was used to going off on runs with friends, but since moving to London I’ve not been able to do so very often. I stopped running altogether when I had a car accident and broke my collarbone – I had to have reconstructive surgery on my shoulder, resulting in a titanium plate and screws. It’s my war wound! Though it does make going through airport security quite entertaining.

What do you love most about running?

It’s sociable, and you can meet people through doing it – there are so many runners around Wimbledon, it’s such a lovely place to go for a jog. It also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the surrounding green spaces: to run for miles and get lost – though I’m not quite at that stage yet! Plus, it’s free.

How did the Return to Run programme come about?

Jonathan Bell mentioned the programme in a meeting a few months ago, and I showed some interest. So he said, “let’s trial the idea with you, and look at building a programme around your experience”. It took hold properly at the end of March. I had my physio assessment with James Vickers, then I met with personal trainer Alex Reid, who drew up a plan from her base at Physio Centric in Wimbledon Village: a series of strength and conditioning exercises for building core and leg muscles, which I do three times per week. I don’t belong to a gym, but Alex tailored the programme so that I can do it all at home with a small amount of equipment, like hand weights and a resistance ball. In the next couple of weeks she’ll give me a six-week running plan: starting with the basics (walking, a little bit of jogging) – before gradually increasing the intensity until I’m attempting short runs.

How did this injury impact upon your running?

I very much enjoy exercise, and had built up to a level of running that I was quite happy with before my operation. However, it was the de-conditioning of my muscles, and my dwindling fitness, that stopped me from going back to running afterwards. Fortunately I still have a full range of movement with my shoulder, and a low-risk exercise like running isn’t something that worries me too much now. The horse riding that I do in my spare time is more of a concern!

What benefits have you noticed since embarking upon the ‘Return to Run’ programme?

The most noticeable change so far is in my legs, particularly my calves, which feel stronger. Building up strength in these muscles will help to support my knees and ankles when I begin running – and should greatly reduce my chances of becoming injured.

What has been the hardest bit so far?

Probably the time factor. I often work long hours, and making sure that I put aside the time three times per week to do my exercises can be a challenge. I try to space it out, and do the programme on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – if I’m being efficient, I can get through the exercises in about one hour and 15 minutes. That includes a warm-up, core strength exercises, leg exercises, plus a bit of foam rollering at the end. I used to notice delayed onset soreness about 24-48 hours later when I used to exercise, but making the effort to use the foam roller really does make a difference.

Is there a nutritional element to the programme?

I’m currently keeping a food diary, in preparation of meeting my nutritionist, Sarah Danaher, next week. She will give me a specific dietary plan, which I will start implementing into every day life. The goal is to achieve a balanced lifestyle – exercising, eating healthily, and feeling better about myself in general.

What kit do you rely on?

At the moment, it would have to be my foam roller and my thera-band, which I use for warm-up exercises. The latter looks like a massive, very tight, elastic band, which goes around both ankles – the resistance helps to activate the muscles. Though when I get to the running stage it will likely be a pair of earphones! I find music helpful to push me.

Top safety tip on the road?

Lots of people simply get up and go running without a second thought. You can do this, but you’re more likely to injure yourself if you’re not prepared. I’d advise putting in the time and effort beforehand – to isolate specific muscle groups, and to strengthen them before you do head off running.  

What is your ultimate fitness goal?

The goal for this programme is a 10K run at the Richmond running festival in September – but after that, I’d like to build up to doing a half marathon. It would be nice to go back to Sussex and do one there. Ultimately though, I want running to become part of my lifestyle – so if a friend says “let’s go for a run”, I can grab my trainers and go with them without having to think twice. I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to do this programme, and to have the support of everyone on the team. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it!

Are you thinking of returning to running after a period of time off? Or perhaps you finally want to get into it, after years of toying with the idea? With our specialised Return to Running programme, you can! Please speak to one our Treatment Coordinators on 0208 944 0665 or email [email protected] to discuss joining our Return to Running Programme.