During the past six months since the Covid-19 outbreak, we have had to strike a new balance in our day-to-day lives. A healthy balance is required in all we do from diet, to work, to relationships, to down time, to exercise. But what about a professional athlete or Olympic hopeful, how do they maintain the balance required to persevere in their athletic performance and goals for the long haul?
I met Magnolia Howell in February of this year following a hamstring tear while training for her third, you heard me correctly, third Olympic trials. Magnolia was born in Sacramento, raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, moved to Omaha, Nebraska and attended Westside High School where she became State Champion in both the 100m and 200m dash in 2001 and 2002. From there she moved back to California, attended Cal State Long Beach, and pursued a career in Print Journalism. She recalls with me, “Everything was writing, film, and art, then in 2007, running took over my life.” Her father, a native of Trinidad, was an accomplished runner and big inspiration in Magnolia’s running life. “My goal was to break the National Record in the 400m for my country.” She trained and qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials running for team Trinidad and Tobago but missed that cut. “I was devastated. Never took any real time off. I just knew I wanted to try again.” She continues, “Every decision was made around training and athletic performance – family vacations, holidays, relationships – everything.” In 2016 she qualified for a second Olympic trials but again did not make the team. “My next steps were confusing, so this time I took a year off.” Magnolia began an art company called “Art On The Run” and started training again for the 2020 Olympic trials.
Our conversation turned to how an athlete keeps training full on and performing at this high a level year after year. The answer from Magnolia was recovery. “The better you are at recovery the harder you can train, so recovery becomes the most important thing.” We also talked about balance because when I met Magnolia, imbalance was the problem. In therapy we began with Weak Link Tests using the closed chain Redcord Neurac followed by muscle testing and a direct current threshold scan using the NeuFit Method. There were obvious areas of asymmetry and neuromuscular inhibition that, without a doubt, contributed to her injury. Dr. Ben Rawson treated her hamstring tear directly using Platelet-Rich Plasma injections and Magnolia and I got busy treating those imbalances. With the powerful combination of Regenerative Medicine, Redcord Neurac, and NeuFit focused on tissue repair, muscle balance, and nervous system recovery, Magnolia was soon back training again. https://charmaustin.com/relieve-pain-and-repair-injury/platelet-rich-plasma-prp/ https://charmaustin.com/restore-function-and-return-to-living/sports-performance/
Spring 2020 brought with it an even greater challenge that no one could have foreseen. With the Covid-19 pandemic came the closing down of college sports, cancellation of track meets, and finally the postponing of the Olympic trials and 2020 Olympic games. Magnolia was facing an enormous and difficult decision. She shared more about the balance art brings to her life, “I want to lead art parties that show people, through patience and faith, they can unlock all limitations. I want people to know that we are all vessels that channel something else of great power and creativity.” After a lifetime of competitive and professional athletics she adds, “I have had to make the excruciatingly hard decision to pivot my life.” This stunningly talented and beautiful female athlete shows us that perseverance looks like living a life of balance. At the end of the day, a step away and into a new direction is immeasurably more courageous than running yet another race in the same.
You can view more of Magnolia’s work and her Art On The Run classes on Instagram @magnolialafleur or contact her @magnolia.aotr. https://www.instagram.com/magnolialafleur/
Michele Zink Harris, PT, CNP, RAS