March 13, 2017

And the slow train rolls on ...

Month One.  OMG I cannot do my favorite race that I have trained for months for.  OMG I am in such great fitness and this is the worst thing ever that I’ve got injured a month before my key race of the year.  So, so sad.

Month Two.  Ok, this injury is really dragging on longer than I’d like, ack – it’s worse than I’d previously thought but ok, I’ll be back running 100% in a few weeks time.  No problem.

Hiking in North Van.

Month Three.  Hmm, this next race is looking questionable.  I mean maybe still doable, I’ve been cross training a lot and I’m making some progress so maybe I can do it.  Think positive, think positive!

Month Four.  This is gosh darn ridiculous!  I mean I’m an ultrarunner and I’ve just had to pull out of a 23km race.  Since when can I not run for two hours without getting injured?  Ok, ok, more cross training it is.

Slow miles, sore ass.

Month Five.  I’m making some progress, I mean maybe just a little but surely I’m getting there!  Let’s race a 10k road race, let’s ignore the fact that I’m a trail ultra runner.  Ack, that 10k race did my leg no good at all.  Fine, let’s scratch next months ultra that a really wanted to race.  Boo hoo.  Silly running.

Month Six.  Winter is so less conducive to cross training.  Cycling in the dark and rain in pointless.  I so don’t want to go pool running. Fitness is pointless, I can’t run.  Fine, fine – I’ll carry on with more expensive physio, it’s got to help at some point, no?

Month Seven.  Ok, final dream race of the year well and truly scratched.  I give up.  100%, I’m done.  How long can you do without running properly and still call yourself a runner?  ‘Cause I sure as anything don’t feel like one now.

Low impact gym time.

Month Eight.  No pressure.  The race year is done, the boat has left the harbor and I well and truly missed the sailing.  That’s ok, everything will turn around in the New Year next month, right?  Right!  New Year, no injuries, new races to aim for.  I will do this!

Month Nine.  How come it’s January and I’m still injured.  Has anyone every told you how unmotivating physio exercises are after nine full months?  Sure, different physios, different exercises, same result.

2016 was my worst year of running by far.  An injury struck at the worst time, right before a key race, a race I love with a passion and that I had trained so hard for, and yet it was taken away from me just moments before the start line.  The last now ten months, and counting, have been about constantly adjusting goals to the tides of my injury. It goes without saying that when you’re used to running 100 miles a week then a pretty big void is left when your body only seems to want to run for a tiny fraction of the distance it once did.  Don’t get me wrong – no broken leg, no deathly disease, it ‘just’ seems to be an overuse injury that steadfastly refuses to go away.  There have been many a time where I say, ‘fine, I give up, I’m done’ but then I get out for a short run and I love the crunch of gravel under my feet, the fresh air on my cheeks, the sounds of nothing but the rustling trees and my breath, and I daydream of races of past and I want to be back there and know I can’t give up the hope of getting there just yet.  It’s not just the races I miss (which of course I do), I miss the structure that daily training brings, I miss chasing my friends at club workouts and I miss those familiar trails and those mountain views that, for now, seem like a distant memory.  Right now I don’t class myself as a runner and whilst the memories of past running often seem more like a dream, I want to chase that dream.  I hate the physio exercises and the mind numbing cross training but you know what?  I didn’t win Western States and Comrades by giving up, and I’m not giving up on this nightmarish injury ultra just yet.  Why? Because I want to be that 70 year old lady that still runs around the neighborhood and shows up at local races.  Sure, a few more competitive ultras before then would be nice too, but for now – I just want to run.

One step forward, and hopefully not two steps back.


  1. Wow that is a rough year for you. I've been injured with stress fracture for 4 months but I have felt your feelings. I hope that your recovery will be speedy or at least steady and that you can run races again!

    1. Hope you heal well and are back running this year!

  2. When the time is right, you will come back. Recover well first! the meantime, you're still an Ultrarunner in my book!�❤

  3. Relentless forward progress... that was my dad's mantra when he was sick. I have been injured for 14 months without a clear diagnosis, and I actually cannot walk more than ten minutes in a day. It is a humbling path to go down... I am so sorry your body isn't healing, damnit! I feel your pain and I am so glad you have continued to write about it, because it makes the rest of us feel less alone.

    1. Hope you get back walking and running in due course :)

  4. You will be that 70 year old lady! You will run past another 70 year old lady (or man or more likely another 40 year old) and you might even be wearing a pink wig and you'll high five them for the love of running. This year will be a long forgotten memory yet part of what allows you to stay strong and keep spreading your inspiration to others.

  5. Sadly, I can relate. It's coming on 4 years for me, and no, it's not an overuse injury, more like overuse body gave up? But yet you're right, I love that air in the hair, the simplicity of steps, the freedom of movement, and I am not giving up. Keeping myself in shape by other means and dreaming of getting outside and suddenly - whoa - running again. Hang on.

    1. Hope you can get back to running when your body allows!

  6. Taking it very easy myself as nursing a sore calf, and I've someone for whom 15km is a big effort! I so sympathise.

  7. I am so with u.... Got injured in October 2015 after having an amazing season.... And then it just continued and then another injury.... Finally 14months after, I was able to start training..... That lasteat 3 months before it all kicked off again..... Feeling miserable is an understatement :( xx

    1. Hope you an make a steady and strong return to running this time around.

  8. I can sympathize a little bit. I dislocated my shoulder earlier this year (no regrets) which derailed my training for all my spring races. I know it's just a fraction of the time you had to put up with, and it's not lower body, just that I know where you're coming from.

    Stay tough. You'll be back before you know it.

  9. Wishing you a full recovery - and soon would be nice!

  10. Ellie, I hadn't realized how chronic your injury is. Sorry I missed you at Chuckanut but I was out on the course all day, mainly working "Aid 3.5" (with water and calories this time!)
    Here's a wish for your full recovery. If ultras teach a person any one valuable thing, it is ultra-patience and ultra-toughness. You have both in abundance.

  11. Doug - yes, I was sorry not to see you at Chuckanut but knew you would be busy out on the trail. Hope to see you there next year and hope you are well x

  12. Ellie I've just read a few of your posts and am so glad you're back to running now! I've been sidelined for almost 2 months now and am also looking at a very complex puzzle of injury, which is objectively quite interesting but subjectively so frustrating! I was just referred to Dr Bovard today, so hopefully he'll have a good perspective on what's going on. Hope your comeback train continues full steam ahead :)

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