Making a Comeback (Guest Post by Diane)

27 Mar Making a Comeback (Guest Post by Diane)

Running has been my main-stay for exercise and socializing for over twenty years. I have been running with the Longboat Roadrunners since 1996 and have developed many friendships that have brought much joy into my life. I have many fond memories of running, racing and enjoying many parties with members of the community – a group that is always ready to support and encourage their peers.

Lacing up my shoes before Canadian Masters Races at York University 2016

With my coach Michelle Clarke (on right)

When I retired almost three years ago I decided to dedicate more time to training and challenge myself to become more fit to see how much I could improve my race times. I began working with coach,  Michelle Clarke, also a member of Longboat,  and the hard work paid off. Not only did I increase my race times, but realized a number of personal goals. I am so grateful to my coach Michelle.  With her help I was honoured with the Most Improved Runner of the Year Award by Longboat. She patiently guided me through a lot of tough workouts and tapped into my inner animal – that deep competitive nature that keeps me focused on the finish line. 


At the end of that exciting year I began to notice a nagging pain in my knees which seemed to be getting worse. By the New Year I could no longer run without pain and began the long road of discovery.  After x-rays, MRI’s  and many consultations with physiotherapists, I learned I had advanced, severe osteoarthritis. It was a devastating diagnosis. I believed my running career had ended.  I made my way through the winter months with a cloud over my head and had a really tough time regaining my usual positive attitude. Yes, I could enjoy snowshoe treks through the woods, walks down our wintry road and I even explored yoga classes which I have really enjoyed. But the thrill of the run was no longer mine, and races were out of the question. 

I tried physiotherapy, but nothing seemed to work.  By August I tried to run a bit, but still had pain after a couple of kilometres. Friends in the running community were so supportive and many suggested that lots of people have OA and continue to run. I just had to find the secret formula that would build strength to support the knees. I was never good at cross-training,  but now I had no choice. 

A friend who had a knee replacement and was a former aerobics instructor suggested that squats and lunges were very helpful for her to regain strength post-surgery. So I began lunging and squatting all over the house to see if that would help. After a few weeks I tried a little run and was pleased to discover I could now run a little further before the pain set in. Eureka!  I was on my way back to the race track.

No sooner had I begun to feel like a runner again, I took a wrong turn on my bike and flew over the handlebars, landing on my shoulder.  As my friends pulled my bike off me and helped me out of the ditch I swung my arm and cheered that it was a wonder I hadn’t broken something. Yes, it was uncomfortable but I thought since I could move it, it must be fine.  Back on my bike to finish the ride and I began to feel dizzy and nauseous. Sure enough, after checking in with the doctor I was advised I had broken my clavicle. So much for making a comeback.  I had to spend the next six weeks in a sling, and even then, there was quite a bit of pain.  We older folks don’t heal quite as quickly.

By October I was given the go-ahead to try a little run. “Just don’t fall on your shoulder”, I was advised.  I was elated.  I had begun doing my squats and lunges about a month before, and it was starting to pay off.  I was painfully slow, but I was out there. By January I did my first eight kilometre race, slowly, mind you, but I was participating.

As I continue with my own home-therapy I am discovering how important it is to enable me to run.  Missing my workout is not an option. Although I now run on a treadmill during the winter months because the uneven snow-covered roads are not conducive to my knee condition, I am still able to keep training. I’m enjoying yoga, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and, yes, running. Through all of the down time I also discovered a deep love of painting, and my artwork is scattered all over the house.

Sometimes when life forces us into a time of reflection and meditation we discover things about ourselves we might not otherwise have unearthed. I am so grateful to be able to once again include running in my repertoire of healthy lifestyle exercises.  

Diane is happily retired after more than 20 years as a professional fund raiser for universities and colleges. An avid runner, she also enjoys gardening, cycling, and painting, as well as spending time with family and friends. She and her husband enjoy running the country roads from their new home on a lake north of North Bay. 
Find out more about Michelle Clarke on her webpage michelletherunner
Do you have a comeback story to share? Have you had to overcome injury? Let us know.
Cheerios ~Linda
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