Tough pill to swallow

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Tough pill to swallow


I always try with my posts whether on Twitter, FB, Instagram or my blog to remain positive and upbeat, but to be quite honest at the moment I’m feeling far from positive, in fact I feel as though a huge chunk of who and what I am has been ripped away leaving me uncertain of how to deal with the future.

The first few weeks after my return from America I had no desire to do any form of exercise.  Firstly I was in too much pain with my knee and secondly my body was exhausted so needed  time to recover and gain much needed weight.  I’m a great believer in listening to my body, giving it time to heal and trying the best way I can to recovery properly, it’s something I have always done (even if I don’t like it!). My body weight is now good, actually I have no idea how much I weigh but I know the old body is looking more normal than it was, the pain in my knee is way better but still uncomfortable.  On a positive note my walking is slightly faster than it was!

I have been allowed to go swimming, although this is something I don’t particularly enjoy and certainly don’t feel as though I’m getting any form of exercise as the only stroke I’m allowed to do is either back-stroke or crawl. I have never been able to get the hang of the breathing part with the crawl! I bought goggles in an attempt to practice but panicked when I put my head under water – totally useless – so backstroke or nothing!  The slightly more exciting news is I’m now allowed to use a static cycle at the gym but set on zero resistance and also I can use upper body weights in a very gentile way with very low weights so I don’t put pressure on my back, hips etc (not difficult!). The swimming pool or the gym don’t come close to the open trail.

All this is marvellous and it’s fantastic to be able to do some form of exercise as I’m no longer feeling tired but going from 50-60 miles for 40 days to nothing is tough.  The only thing that has kept me going has been the anticipation of the appointment with Mr. P the knee specialist, who I hoped would come up with a plan to get me back to running.

I drove to Bristol to see Mr P  keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that there would be some light at the end of the tunnel.  My lovely sister came along for much needed support not just to hold my hand but to also listen to what the surgeon said in case I missed anything!

He was great, spending a lot of time with me and not once did I feel I was just another person with a knee problem. As he talked, examined my knee and explained what was going on I was trying to remain positive, asking questions and attempting to keep a smile on my face, but dreading the worst.

Unfortunately the smile slowly disappeared as I was told that cycling, cross training and swimming (i.e. low impact) were the only things I could do until the bone oedema and knee pain had disappeared, together with the swelling that was still visible on the medial side of my knee. The main issue was that one area of my knee had zero cartilage, it was bone on bone (hence the excruciating pain during my run in America)  Once the oedema and pain had gone I could try to run with a special knee brace and if that caused pain then I would be left with two options – first; have my leg broken and straightened and second; a partial knee replacement on the lateral side.  Basically Ultras and possibly running full stop would be out of the question.

I held my emotions together until I got outside the surgery and into a full waiting room where I just couldn’t hold it back any longer and burst into tears, my world as I knew it had come to an end.

I realise that there is way more to my life than running.  My family and friends also play a huge part in my it, but my running is something that has given me an identity, I’m not simply a wife, mother and “Didi” (that’s what my grandchildren call me), running was me, Mimi!  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a wife, mother and “Didi” but not being able to run makes me feel as though my identity is lost/gone.

HWMBO has been as always a great support.  When I arrived home I told him what Mr P had said (promptly cried again!) and wondered how could I be part of the running community that I love if I could no longer run?  He told me that I could be part of it but in different ways, volunteering, mentoring etc but to remember that I’m a strong, positive person who would find something that could replace running.

I don’t want or need sympathy but I need a moment to feel a touch sorry for myself (if you don’t mind!) and then I will zip up my woman-suit and work out what I’m going to do with myself, but at the moment I can’t get my head around the fact that running ultras or running at all may more than likely be something I can longer do.  During my running life I have raced all over the world and have been to places that years ago I could only have dreamt about, I wouldn’t change one single second, I haven’t given up all hope yet; nevertheless the pain of not being able to run is without doubt a tough pill to swallow.

For the moment I will enjoy living vicariously through everyone else’s running adventures!

Happy Training.


  • Miriam

    Mimi, I’m so very sorry to read this and i completely get why you feel you’ve lost your identity. You’ve obviously not lost it, but that doesn’t change the way you feel about it right now. I’m still your biggest fan. Big love.
    Mim xxx

    December 10, 2017 at 9:08 pm
  • Karen Angela Eslick

    Reading your blog bought a tear to my eye. I am or was an avid runner. Having completed many marathons, ultras, 22 comrades marathons, 2 full ironman races, half ironman races and 21km etc.
    Last year I finished ironman africa champs in Port Elizabeth (south africa) in April and my 22nd comrades marathon (89km from Pietermaritzburg to Duban) in June. I went from hero to zero in a couple of weeks.
    The 9th July 2016 was the start of my downward spiral. I had an easy run at the north beach park run after a 40km cycle. 2km from the finish I felt an ache develop in my right groin, I didnt think anything serious. As the day progressed the pain got worse, as the week passed, the pain deteriorated. Long story short, many doctors later, X-rays, MRI, rediculous amount of money spent, chiropractor, physio, biokinetics. A hip labral tear was diagnosed. Rest, rest, and more rest. Ice, ice and more ice. Nothing helped. I eventually saw a doc who told me the cartilage will not heal but will have to be surgically repaired. In April 2017 I was operated on. Recovery 4months to a year. I am now 8 months post op, 18 months post injury. Still battling with pain. Running was a very important part of my life. Kept me fit and healthy. Assisted with weight control. A good social circle to be part of. And yes there is something out there that will takes its place, but I havnt found it yet. Yesterday I conceded and got myself to my local doctor. My mind is no longer strong enough to hide the pain and discomfort. It is no longer strong enough to pretend to be happy. It is no longer strong enough to be in a room of people. I cry into my pillow at night. My endorphin levels left that day on park run. My doc put me on ‘happy pills’ on Saturday and another course of pain and anti inflammation meds. I feel your pain. All the best in your diagnosis and recovery. I am still living in hope that I will run again even if it is only the shorter distances.

    December 11, 2017 at 4:10 am
  • Oh Mimi…. I’m so sorry to hear this. As a runner I can totally relate to your sadness, loss of identity, feeling of loss, and more. I have never met you but feel I know you through your blogs and FB posts. I can tell from those that you are an amazingly strong woman inside and out and that you will find a way to rise above this devastating prognosis. Take time to grieve (as much time as you need) and move forward as you have before. You are admired and loved by so many and have inspired me to become better as a runner and person. Keep your chin up and keep us posted on your progress and future decisions!!

    Keena Carstensen

    December 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm
  • Mark Cameron

    Hang in there Mimi, don’t let your mental strength push you beyond what the experts tell you, I did that and recovery took forever. You don’t have to think about life after running, you may just have to think laterally about other ways to involve your life in running. Hopefully you can still adventure, some of the most inspiring people I met on trails are the hikers who must have hiked for hours just to turn up in the middle of nowhere, these people also show me age is no barrier

    December 11, 2017 at 1:07 pm
  • Chris Stone

    Know your pain… I’m bottom of the class compared to your running exploits but have run a few ultras in my day and now can’t run at all due to osteoarthritic ankle. Had ankle arthroscopy a few months back and understood that I might be able to run again but that outcome is not looking good and may have to have an ankle fusion. Like you, my identity was/still is? tied into running, particularly off road running, but for the foreseeable future, that door in closed to me and I miss it like mad.

    Wishing you the best for the future.

    December 11, 2017 at 5:25 pm
  • Pamela Chapman-Markle

    My heart cries out to you! You are such an inspiration and will find another, “identity “. Heal, get strong, and continue to inspire all of us as you have!!!!!!

    December 11, 2017 at 7:39 pm
  • Mary Barnes

    Thinking of you Mimi and sending you lots of love xx

    December 12, 2017 at 7:15 am
  • Terri Filkins

    Your achievements are inspirational. I run and do whatever i can in tge way of sport and completed my first Ironman last year. I do not know what I would do without exercise but you are stronger and will find a way to fill this gap. Share your strength and achievements as you are the inspiration for those of us that run and will be for those still to start. I will be waiting to see and learn from how you move forward take care no one can take away what you have achieved Terri

    March 6, 2018 at 10:54 pm