Meet Chris

I help migrate avid endurance athletes out of the medical system and back to consistent and healthy training while positioning those with an interest in racing for peak performance

Hi. I’m Chris, physical therapist, coach, author, teacher, consultant, and multiple-time Kona qualifier. My aim is to be a resource for athletes, who are passionate about running and triathlon. If you are novice or world-class, my goal is to give you practical and actionable info to help you improve.

As an athlete, you face highs and lows. It’s the norm! Sometimes life flows and all systems are GO! Greenlight! Time to push towards the “pointy end of sharp.” In other cases, it seems like you can’t get out of your own way. Your training and performance suffer. Or even worse, you end up sidelined from training due to pain, injury, and/or illness. As an athlete, it’s essential that we’re in harmony with our narrative and motivation to train while respecting our ecosystem.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned at this point in my professional and athletic career, it’s that life has a funny way of “periodizing” your training. If you can establish consistent training, fantastic! Other times you need to bob and weave based on what life throws at you. Stay the course, make good decisions and good things are bound to happen.

Sport has always been a part of my existence.

It’s helped propel me forward in life while also providing an escape. On the surface, most people thought I had a picturesque childhood and adolescence.

I don’t know about you, but my success in life has been predicated on sport. Hard work, showing up and realizing it ain’t always going to be pretty. I’ll be the first to tell you: what we see on the surface is not necessarily the reality.

For me, sport was a safe haven and a rescue. During childhood, I was the victim of ongoing mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Feeling ashamed of what had happened, I was reluctant to come clean with my story and reality. It scared me to confront it. Like so many people I internalized my struggles and turned to sport as a refuge. This was a double-edged sword.

I was a stellar athlete, but sports were the only thing keeping my emotional well-being together. Fragile? Yes! Maybe you can relate?

The gift from all of this was that I was forced to reflect on my situation. It dawned on me that there are a lot of moving parts. Go figure! Sure there were the physical loads, but there was a hell of a lot more to unpack.

(Un)Fortunately, I incurred a litany of injuries during the early part of my career. Talk about an ecosystem being out of whack! I was overtraining, under-fueling, and treating sport as a coping strategy. I’d extend training sessions to avoid plugging back into reality. Going from swim practice to four hours of tennis to baseball followed by BMXing til dusk was the norm. Nothing like having four surgeries and a slew of injuries in a 5 year period before I started to get the memo.

Somehow, I always seemed to land myself in the hands of incredible rehab professionals. I thank my Mom for always being an advocate. What made these people special was not their clinical expertise (that was a given). It was their care and concern for me as a person outside of sport. Sure they helped me get back to athletics at a higher level. Of greater importance, they helped broaden my identity. Through enduring these injuries, I developed an unwavering trust in my body and being. I also learned a lot about myself outside of sport. This is when the magic started to happen.

Unbeknownst to me, these experiences spawned my career.

While it may sound extreme, it would be remiss of me not to share my story. I appreciate that others have gone through similar situations if not worse. You are not alone! My struggles were the furthest thing from a curse. They were a blessing!

These days it’s an honor and privilege to function in the capacity of a clinician, coach, and mentor. To know that I’m in a position to have an impact on others like the amazing professionals who looked after me. There’s nothing that I enjoy more than helping dedicated endurance athletes like you. I’ll strive to help you view your body as a temple while respecting the backdrop of your life. Nothing’s more empowering than taking action and ownership of your situation. Safety, trust, communication, sensibility, accountability, and self-honesty are the cornerstones of my care.

Let me help you reach your best in Sport & Life

This might not be easy but once you trust in yourself the stage is set for success so long as you keep showing up!

PROFESSIONAL CV

  • OwnerZeren PT LLC, Seattle, WA 98109

    • 11/14 – Present

  • Physical Therapist – Olympic Physical Therapy, Bellevue, WA

    • 6/13 – 11/14

  • Owner – Chris Johnson PT PLLC, New York, NY

    • 10/10 – 6/13

  • Triathlon CoachTriLatino Triathlon Organization New York, NY

    • 9/10-10/12

  • Senior Physical Therapist/Research AssistantNicholas Institute of Sports Medicine & Athletic Trauma – Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY
    • 9/03-6/10
  • Medical ConsultantNew York Rangers

    • 8/03-8/12

  • Adjunct Instructor – Department of Physical Therapy, New York University, New York, NY
    • 01/07 – 2/13
  • Graduate Sports/Orthopedic FellowshipFirst State Orthopedics. Michael J. Axe, MD. Newark, DE

    • 08/98-01/02

RACE RESUME

IRONMAN EVENTS

  • 2020 COVID19 Ironman Canada Cancelled
  • 2019 Kona Ironman World Championships – DNF
  • 2019 Ironman Canada – 9:43 (2nd place AG – 2nd fastest bike & run)
  • 2018 Bike crash | clavicle fracture | no racing
  • 2014 Kona Ironman World Championships – 10:02
  • 2014 Ironman Canada – 9:48 (*Kona Slot)
  • 2013 Kona Ironman World Championships – 9:52:19
  • 2013 Ironman Coeur d’ Alene – 9:35:30 (*Kona Slot)
  • 2012 Ironman St. George
  • 2011 Ironman Louisville – 9:42
  • 2010 Ironman Canada – 10:30
  • 2009 Ironman Tempe – 11:23

    IRONMAN 70.3 EVENTS

    • 2019 Coeur d’ Alene – 4:28 (2nd place AG – 1:20 run off the bike)
    • 2018 Bike crash | clavicle fracture | no racing
    • 2017 Victoria 70.3 – 4:27 (2nd place AG with draft penalty)
    • 2016 Victoria 70.3 – 4:15 (1st Place AG)
    • 2015 Lake Stevens 70.3 – 4:28 (OA Winner)
    • 2015 Victoria 70.3 – 4:26 (1st Place AG)
    • 2014 Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3 – 4:31 (1st Place AG)
    • 2014 Ironman St. George 70.3 – 4:38
    • 2013 70.3 Ironman World Championships – 4:45:06
    • 2013 70.3 Ironman Lake Stevens – 4:32:38
    • 2012 70.3 Poconos Mountains – 4:26:46 (1st Place AG)
    • 2012 70.3 EagleMan – 4:29:24
    • 2011 70.3 San Jan Puerto Rico
    • 2010 70.3 Ironman World Championships (4:28)
    • 2010 70.3 Florida

    Philosophy

    It’s essential to approach every athlete on an individualized basis. To understand their unique ecosystem and motivation to train. Sound care and coaching involve engagement, transparency, and feedback. We must also appreciate the enduring impact of our words and actions. Ensuring athlete buy-in and confidence in the plan and systems engenders success. Science guides my work with athletes across the injury to performance spectrum. I prioritize safety as well as ongoing monitoring and testing.
     
    The athletes I work with exude sportsmanship, mental toughness, grit, accountability, and an unwavering commitment to reach their best. We prioritize consistent and deliberate practice coupled with open and honest communication. The ultimate goal is to put you in the best possible position to enjoy consistent training and to “show up” on race day.”

    Publications & Presentations

    University of Virginia Running Medicine Conference March 2020. Keynote Speaker – Demystifying Treadmill Analysis & When Can I Run?

    Mountain Land Running Summit, Park City UT Sept 2019. Keynote Presenter – Physical Performance Tests to Assess Readiness to Run & Orthopedic Examination & Its Impact on Resistance Training Prescription

    Clinical Care of the Runner, 1st Edition. Assessment, Biomechanical Principles, and Injury Management. Author of Chapter 2 – Training Principles. Editor : Mark Harrast

    Fukunaga T, Johnson CD, Nicholas SJ, McHugh MP. Muscle hypotrophy, not inhibition, is responsible for quadriceps weakness during rehabilitation after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2019 Feb;27(2):573-579. Epub 2018 Sep 29.

    McHugh MP, Nicholas SJ, Lee SJ, Mullaney MJ, Tyler TF, Fukanaga T, Johnson CD. Functional Outcomes after Double Row versus Single Row Repair. Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine 2016 (In Press)

    Nicholas SJ, Lee SJ, Mullaney MJ, Tyler TF, Johnson CD, Fukunaga T, McHugh MP. Functional Outcomes after Double Row Versus Single Row Rotator Cuff Repair: A Prospective Randomized Trial. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. Orlando FL, July 9-11.

    Fukunaga T, Gellert JM, Johnson CD, Nicholas SJ, McHugh MP. To what extent is weakness after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction due to impaired central activation as opposed to peripheral muscle atrophy? A magnetic stimulation study. American Physical Therapy Association, Sports Section. Combined Sections Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, Feb 3-6, 2014.

    University of Puget Sound. “Demystifying Treadmill Analysis for Medical & Fitness Professionals  – The Four S’s of Treadmill Analysis.” Invited Speaker, Apr 2016.

    McHugh MP, Tallent J, Johnson CD. The Role of Neural Tension in Stretch-Induced Strength Loss. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Feb 22.

    Schachter AK, McHugh MP, Tyler TF, Kremenic IJ, Orishimo KF, Johnson CD, Ben-Avi S, Nicholas SJ. Electromyographic activity of selected scapular stabilizers during glenohumeral internal and external rotation contractions. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2010 Sep; 19(6):884-90.

    McHugh MP, Johnson CD, Morrison RH. The role of neural tension in hamstring flexibility. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2012 Apr;22(2):164-9.

    Mullaney MJ, Johnson CD, Tyler TF, Banz JA, McHugh MP: Absolute and relative reliability of shoulder range of motion measurements.Physiotherapy Theory and Practice 2010 Jul; 26(5):327-33.

    Johnson CD, Morrison RH, McHugh MP. The Role of Neural Tension in Hamstring Flexibility. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA May 2009.

    Tyler TF, Johnson CD, Jenkins WL. Rehabilitation following osteochondral injury to the knee. Orthopedic Knowledge Update: Sports Medicine 4. W. Ben Kibler 2009.

    Schachter AK, McHugh MP, Kremenic IJ, Orishimo KF, Tyler TF, Johnson CD, Ben-Avi S, Nicholas SJ. The contribution of the scapular stabilizers to glenohumeral rotation. Eastern Orthopaedic Association 39 th Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada Oct. 2008.

    Johnson CD, Mullaney MJ, McHugh MP. Forward shoulder posture and associated posterior capsule tightness. American Physical Therapy Association, Combined Sections Meeting. Boston, MA 2007.

    Johnson CD, McHugh MP, Wood T, Kibler WB: Performance demands of professional male tennis players. Br J Sports Med; 40 (8): 696-9; discussion 699, 2006.

    Stackhouse SK, Stevens JE, Johnson CD, Snyder-Mackler L, Binder-Macleod SA: Predictability of maximum voluntary isometric knee extension force form submaximal contractions in older adults. Muscle & Nerve Jan; 27(1): 40-5, 2003.

    Chmielewski T, Johnson CD, Stackhouse SK, Snyder-Mackler L: Predictability of maximum voluntary contractions of the quadriceps in patients who are ACL deficient. Poster Presentation. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. Indianapolis, IN, May 2002.

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