Mikaela Barnes’ 2020 in Review


2020 – the year of plans, perspectives, and priorities. I think we can all say that we saw the year going a little differently. For those of you who like to take life by the reigns (myself included), not having a sense of what is coming next can be unsettling. Flipping back in my day planner and reflecting on this year, there were a lot of “what should have/could have/would have been” but I can say with great pride that this year was filled with gems that I could have never planned for.

Looking back to, an often dreary, January (oh, pre-Covid times!), I remember fondly running from Commercial-Broadway station to Port Moody with the lively East Van Run Crew for their annual New Year’s Day half marathon. It was blue skies and sunshine, with patio beers to finish – until our body temperatures cooled off with cold brews in hand and we realized that we were a little too enthusiastic to be on a patio on January 1st.

My joy of running dates back to the day-after my first cross-country race as a wee Grade 9 student where the race involved running across a sandy beach. That race, at the time, felt like the longest three kilometres of my life. Fast forward to the year 2020 and here I am patiently awaiting my Boston Marathon debut. A qualification that I have dreamed of since chasing my hunter orange hat headed, Diet Coke bearing cross-country coach who yelled at me during races to ‘open the Barn Door’ (thanks to my last name) and unleash my full potential. That experience is when I first learned to get comfortable being uncomfortable under the demands of running and competition.

As you can predict, the Boston Marathon did not go off as planned. This cancellation allowed me to re-evaluate and reflect back on my running career to date. I realized that if I wanted to see what I was truly capable of, I needed to re-establish a working relationship with a coach to be able to push me beyond where I think my limits are. This was still months before my first shift at Royal City Physio, but Karen heard of my plans and connected me with a dear friend Mike, head coach of the Human Powered Racing team out of Victoria. I have never looked back – since starting with Coach Mike in June, I secured 5- and 10-kilometre personal bests in training, then smashed my half and full marathon times at the beginning of October. As I think back to my 13 year-old self, running through sand at my first cross-country race in Ottawa, I would have fallen over at the thought of running a full marathon distance on my own, especially in a personal best time. Let’s just say, once races resume, look out – I am not finished yet.

Running, fueling, and recovering turns out to be almost a part-time job. I have new respect for the idea of ‘carving out time in the week for [insert physio exercise here]’ especially when resuming more normal day-to-day activities after the strict lockdown period. I tend not to be swayed by the latest Netflix season, but my partner can attest that I have an addiction (as I do to coffee) for filling my spare time by taking courses. Over the year, I continued to chip away at my orthopedic levels to improve my manual therapy skills as well as dove into running courses with The Running Clinic and The Running Physio to improve my skills in helping those driven running clients keep ahead of injury and perform at their best. I took a Bike Fitting course the year prior and have really enjoyed using my biomechanical eye to help cyclists increase their comfort and efficiency by optimizing their riding position. The biggest transformation in my physiotherapy practice has come from my Clinical Pilates training. It has given me a new lens in identifying areas of how we can move more optimally, how I can create individualized exercises for my clients, and how the complexity of body demands that we look at the big picture. Don’t be surprised if we, as physios, are looking up and down the chain from your injured area. We want to identify more of the moving parts contributing to your injury in the first place, and how we can best utilize that information to get you back doing what you love!

2020 has been a year encompassing the power of community – our ability to connect both virtually and in-person, work together to achieve big dreams, and support one another in the ups and downs. If one thing's for certain, I feel like my 26(.1 – marathon joke) this year has been one to remember, and a reminder that we are resilient in the face of adversity and will be stronger on the other side.

I look forward to ringing in 2021 alongside the wonderful crew at Royal City Physio – I hope each one of you feel at home, as I do, when you walk through the clinic doors and you're picturing our big smiles greeting you beneath the masks!

Cheers to plans, perspective, and priorities; keep moving and keep smiling!

Mikaela Barnes has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Master of Physical Therapy, both at Western University. Mikaela is passionate about understanding human movement, promoting body awareness, and establishing efficient motor patterns. Book with Mikaela today.

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