Allison Grace Morgan: From Grace to Power

Allison Grace Morgan: From Grace to Power

📅October 26th, 2015, 16:30

Allison Grace Morgan, Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon and 10,000m and recent addition to our Bend running community, shares her journey to find strength…  

A wise coach of mine at ZAP Fitness, Pete Rea, once said that I needed to take the “Grace” out of Grace, and become a more powerful and stronger runner. Pete loved to use the under rated pun and play with runner’s names, in order to get a point across, and his point has stayed with me to this day.

alli worlds

Allison at the World Mountain Running Championships.

I have always been a graceful runner. I started at a young age of 7 years old, when my parents introduced me to a 5k road race. After having success, and loving the “runner’s high” I received after, I knew the seed was planted and that I truly loved to run and would continue to see what I could achieve in running. I also found that I was not as successful in other sports and I lacked some of the power and coordination needed to be a well-rounded athlete. Running came naturally to me and I continued to improve throughout middle school and high school.

I had two wonderful coaches teach me the significance of yoga, abdominal exercises, and various strength exercises in high school. It was nothing compared to the technology and knowledge we have easier access to today, where you can find specific strength and power exercises for long distance runners.

Once I went to college, I learned very quickly how weak certain muscle groups were, and how I lacked strength and power to be the best runner I could be. Our coach did not enforce core work or strength routines, and we had to do most of these exercises on our own if we wanted to stay strong and heathy year round. Many runners have weak hip, glute, and back muscles. One of the most common overuse injuries in runners can be the Iliotibial Band Syndrome, which I had injured on the right leg twice in college. I believe this injury could have been avoided if we had performed a consistent strength routine and circuits, enabling a complete strengthening of all of the muscles needed to stay healthy and perform at a high level.

When I joined ZAP Fitness, an elite running team in the mountains of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, I transformed my graceful form to a more powerful method over the five years I lived there. We created a consistent routine of strength oriented exercises and drills. Pete helped guide me to a high level of racing and training, and helped me maintain a healthy, strong running form.

morgan family

Allison with her speedy husband, Thomas Morgan, and their twin boys, Ethan and Drake.

The biggest challenge aside from various running related injuries, has been becoming a mother to twin boys, and balancing my professional running career. Having children is the greatest thing you can do and I am truly blessed to have such wonderful boys. They keep me young, but everything has changed and I have to be even stricter about my training and racing schedule. Throughout the last three and a half years, my first priority was to be the best mother I could be and to provide the best care for them. In the process, I neglected the strength and power I had obtained before I was pregnant. I got by on my running abilities, but I struggled in certain workouts and races that were longer than a 10k. I had lost my overall strength and my body was asymmetrical after the pregnancy. A slight “S curve” in my upper back on the right side has shifted my spine enough to make me feel like I’m running at an angle at times, and my pelvis gets thrown off often. These are not major issues, but it was enough to change my running form. The importance of maintaining a great strength routine is essential to staying healthy. Even when you still have success in races or workouts, you cannot hide the fact that you lost power and strength. It shows dramatically on the track, and I struggled this past spring with imbalances, and my left side was locking up every time I went around the track. It was very awkward and I looked like I was running at a slight angle! I became fully aware of what I needed to work on. I competed in the U.S. Track and Field National Championships in Eugene, Oregon this past June in the 10,000 and 5,000 meter races and they both were a disappointment. My running form was slightly off and I was not able to train at the high level that the National Meet requires so I showed up underprepared. It was embarrassing to have two poor performances. The good news was that it made me realize I had to get back to the runner I used to be and bring back my power and strength I lost.

alli team recharge

Team Recharge at this year’s PPP!

Since moving to Bend six months ago, I have found the perfect group of specialists to get my body back to normal. With the help of Dr. Bari Liebowitz and Becky Snead at Bend Total Body Chiropractic, and Ellie at Rebound Physical Therapy for pelvic floor therapy, I have seen significant improvements. For overall strength and power, I reached out to a longtime friend and co-owner of Recharge, Renee Metivier Baillie. At Recharge, the specialists and staff are geared towards athletic recovery and athletic performance in Bend. Renee and Austin have been extremely helpful and have connected me to Dr. Burke Selbst of Focus Physical Therapy, who has worked with me for the last four months in gaining my strength, proper running form, and power.

I have seen dramatic improvements. I was able to compete in two events I thought I would never do. Being a track and road runner my entire life, I decided to race the U.S. Mountain Championships in Bend. It was extremely challenging but it was exciting to embrace a different style of running. Shortly after that, we had the bright idea of trying a Warrior Dash in Portland, Oregon. I saw how successful Renee and Kimber Mattox were in last year’s World Warrior Dash, and embracing all the changes of this year, I decided it could be a fun event. These races gave me an even bigger realization that I was not as powerful as I could be.

Allison utilizing hip compression at Recharge

Allison utilizing hip compression at Recharge

So in an effort to correct my issues, the goal is quite simple: Treat my strength training routine as a vital component of my training instead of an ancillary part as my time allows. I will depend on Recharge’s facility to remedy this.

See you all there!

Allison Grace Morgan

Professional Runner and Team Recharge member


Related Articles:

Morgan Sweep at Recharge Road Mile!

Better Running Form: Injury Prevention and Performance

The Importance of Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

Functional Band Exercises for Athletes