RunLab Founder Kim Davis takes strides to correct your course.

By Gretchen M. Sanders

Hey, runner, got a hitch in your stride? Don’t worry! Kim Davis, CEO of Austin-based RunLab, wants to fix it. The 41-year-old doctor of chiropractic medicine spends her days helping sidelined runners get back in the race.

“We offer gait analyses, injury assessments and rehab plans,” says Davis, an Ironman triathlete and adventure racer.

Davis started RunLab in 2013 after she got tired of hearing people say injured runners should give up the sport entirely.

“Their doctors told them that,” Davis says, “but I thought, ‘Hey, maybe we just need to work on their mechanics.’ ”

Limping runners trickled into Davis’ exam room, where she diagnosed their problems and tweaked their form so they could train pain-free.

Now RubLab is running away with success.

“We’ve treated Olympic hopefuls, athletes doing their first 10K and children with special needs,” Davis says.

In February, RunLab helped Kayleigh Williamson finish the Austin Half Marathon, the first woman with Down syndrome ever to do so.

If Davis’ work is running, her play is adventure racing. The often days-long events require that she run, kayak and mountain bike to checkpoints sprinkled throughout a wilderness course. On very little sleep, she must navigate her way to the finish line using a map and compass.

“It’s my sport of choice,” Davis says.

Here’s how this run doctor stays fit for adventure.

The A.M.:

“I typically get up at ‘Chuck-thirty,’ which is whatever time my puppy, Chuck, decides it’s time to go out. I live downtown, so I stumble downstairs in my pajamas with hair that looks like a troll doll and try to find creative ways to avoid the Gilbert’s Gazelles training group that meets outside my condo every morning at 6 a.m. Then I do three to four hours of computer work from home. Once I get to the clinic, it’s mayhem!”

The Workout: 

“Since my main sport is ultra-distance adventure racing, I’m a big fan of two-a-day or even three-a-day workouts. They don’t all have to be long, but they do need to be consistent so my body gets used to being active all day. I usually do my morning run on Town Lake, then I end up at RunLab all sweaty and disgusting, which my patients find hilarious. I once did an entire new-patient exam wearing a bike helmet I had forgotten to take off! In all, I run somewhere between 50 to 80 miles per week, with a few road or mountain-bike rides and strength sessions thrown in. Someone reminded me recently that it really doesn’t matter how far or how fast I can run if I can’t do {at least one} pullup. I also love Lindy Hop, an athletic form of swing dancing. It’s a great way to strengthen my body and sweat like crazy while having so much fun. It doesn’t even feel like exercise.”

The Diet:

“I don’t believe in diets. I will eat pretty much anything put in front of me. I do eat a lot of vegetables and ice cream, and I’m a huge margarita fan. I like to eat a wide variety of foods, and I’m fortunate that my husband is a great cook. I get to try all kinds of interesting stuff. I’ve found over the years that I feel the best if I just snack during the day and have a giant dinner. It pretty much goes against everything you hear, but it works for me. I think nutrition is very personal. You have to find what suits your body and goals. I’ve done some of my best 12-hour races on water alone. Most people would say that’s crazy.”

The Gear:

“I’ve run in everything, certainly all of the usual shoes. I’ve also run in less common brands: Vibrams, Newtons, Altras, Topos and Hokas. I’ve even run barefoot! I try every brand so I can be the best resource for my patients. Personally, I prefer Sketchers these days. Most people don’t even know they have a performance line, but they’ve made some incredible stuff the last few years. When I bike, I ride an S-Works hardtail mountain bike, a Cervelo tri bike and an older Cannondale R5000 road bike that I can’t part with because I love it so much. Also, I have a ton of gear in my adventure-racing closet. It’s kind of ridiculous.”

The Motivation:

“Adventure racing motivates me to stay fit year-round. I love running in the woods more than anything, and I want to win or lose a race because of my mental capacity and navigational choices, not because my fitness level limited me. My RunLab team and my husband motivate me too. We help each other get out the door when we feel lazy.”

The Mindset:

“I like to remind my staff that no matter how far you run to chase it, the horizon always moves further away. We can always be better than our current selves, whether that means better at what we do, faster physically or stronger mentally. We should never stop moving toward our next best self.”

The P.M.:

“I like to finish my day with an evening run alongside my business ops director, Lucas Manring. We do an easy loop on Town Lake and talk about the best parts of the day, along with what we need to improve tomorrow. When I get home, my husband usually has a great meal and a glass of champagne waiting for me. The work hours are long, but it’s worth every second. There’s nothing better than bumping into my patients on the trail who tell me how much it means to them to be able to run.”


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