A Journey Back to Racing

Anna healthy and happy to be racing again

Anna Fedotova recently went from a boating accident to regaining her ability to train and race. Her story is inspiring and a testimony to the magic that happens when you find the right synergies between athlete and coach. 

Tell me about the injuries and issues that were preventing you from training and racing.
Like many athletes, I had been dealing with recurring minor injuries on and off. In June 2014 I had been in the midst of marathon training when I got seriously injured in an accident. My foot was hit by a boat propeller. While no major parts of the foot were lost, some parts were severed. Recovery was long; too long for my patience. After 4 months of intensive physical therapy, pool therapy, work on the Anti-Gravity Treadmill, it seemed I was recovering well and was ready to start exercising at the pre-injury levels of intensity. I started doing Crossfit as a way to gain some strength. I ended up injuring my back doing something seemingly benign – a kettle bell swing. Still nursing my foot, this new back injury was devastating.

What made you decide to seek help?
One thing was clear: I could not trust myself with my training and needed support and guidance. I continued to be stuck in “injury-rehabilitation-injury” cycle, with no room for performance. It was incredibly frustrating and unproductive. I decided to find a coach. After interviewing about 5 different candidates, Joe seemed like he would offer exactly what I had been looking for: structured training based my needs. I was definitely not disappointed! Joe helped me build up my musculoskeletal structure with all the supporting elements that need to be intact before running or riding fast. 

How long did it take to start to notice progress? 
Progress felt slow. I wanted to do more, go faster. Yet Joe’s focus was on building strong and balanced athlete, which takes time to create. I could not be happier that I trusted him and his intuition. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, military folks like to say. Well, this saying applies perfectly to my situation: Joe trained me for about 10 months, with weekly meetings and multiple “check-ins” during the week. I had NO injuries. Minor aches were addressed so quickly that they had no chances of becoming a long-term problem. By the end, I was able to complete 4 half marathons in 6 months, trimming 20 minutes for 13.1 in only 5 months!  While progress felt slow, the results of following Joe’s lead are paying off! I am confident my running times will continue to improve!

What were some of the first changes you noticed while working with Joe?
It was not always easy to trust Joe’s strategies in training. For instance, one of the things he implemented was low heart rate training, generally practiced during my long runs. THAT was tough. Going 10:15 minute a mile for 10 miles was testing my patience! Yet, soon, I noticed that going 9:30 for 10 miles felt easy. Soon, 9:00 felt easy. My last half marathon, my pace was consistent and running felt good! The more I trusted his training, the better I got.

What are you currently working towards with regard to racing?
I am excited about my current training. I am training for my first Ironman 70.3. It is hard to imagine that just over one and a half years ago, I was air evacuated from the lake to the operating room and now, I am preparing for an Ironman. There is not a chance I would have done this alone and Joe was absolutely a vital part of my recovery!    

What advice would you give others who were in your place at the time of injury seeking to rehabilitate themselves? 
If you are considering personal coaching, I suggest you do your research carefully and find someone who tailors to your needs. Many coaches are competitive athletes themselves. One of the concerns with actively competing coaches is projecting their own competitive abilities and needs onto you. Find someone who is going to be attuned to your unique abilities, strengths, weaknesses, while implementing new training methods (like low heart rate training for me), when warranted, and holding you accountable. I’d say, if you are recovering from a major injury or prone to injuries, Joe would be a perfect fit for you.