Saturday, May 31, 2014

Guest Blogger: How Running Saved Me by Nikki

While I'm away this week, I have asked some of my closest bloggy friends to write some guest posts.  This helps me do a couple of things - fill some space on my blog AND introduce you all to some of my favourite people in this world.  

Today, my special guest blogger is Nikki.  Back in 2012, when I was asked to be an official Run Van Blogger for Vancouver Marathon, I had no clue that I was going to meet someone who means as much to me as Nikki does.  She started to follow my training for the race and we connected over social media.  How often do you meet someone in person for the first time and give them a big hug the second you say hi? - well, that was me and Nikki.  After that race, we both ended up registered for Goofy and ended running together for all three days - never having a shortage of things to talk about.   She is one of my dearest friends and my favourite virtual training partner.  Nikki also has a heart-wrenching and incredibly inspiring story behind finding her running legs again.  She defies the odds daily and I feel honoured that she would share it here with my readers.   Be sure to check out her blog for more about her incredible and inspiring journey.  Here's her story abut how running healed her.

Follow Nikki: Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest


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How Running Saved Me

Ask a runner how running has impacted their life and you’ll hear answers that cover everything from it helped them lose weight, it broke them out of their shell, to it helped them fight depression. Running means different things to different people but I think we all agree that running changes lives.

Ask me and I’d say that running didn’t just change mine, it saved mine.

Almost 10 years ago my life was changed forever when we hit black ice on the Coquihalla Highway and rolled our truck off the side of the road. I had no idea how badly you could get hurt, even when wearing your seatbelt.

Having never broken a bone in my life, I suddenly found myself with all of my ribs broken, a chipped collar bone, a herniated disc in my neck, a dislocated sternum, collapsed lungs, a broken back and multiple soft tissue injuries to my hips, face and head. My injuries were classified as ‘catastrophic’.

Given how badly the vertebrae in my spine were crushed, I was very lucky to not have been paralyzed and was reminded of this by every doctor I saw. I was flown back down to Vancouver where my spine was pieced back together with 2 titanium rods and too many screws and bolts to count.

My recovery was long and slow. At first, I needed someone to help me with every aspect of my day from getting out of bed to eating my food. My muscles had deteriorated so badly after laying in a hospital bed for several weeks that even though I wasn’t paralyzed, nothing seemed to work properly anymore.


 Nobody could tell me how well I would heal or what my life would be like in the long term but they did tell me that the harder I worked at it, the better off I’d be. My physical therapy became my focus and my schedule of appointments and medications became my job. I have never worked harder at anything in my life.

After two years in nearly full-time physical therapy I was told that I was probably as good as I was going to get. My body had healed but nothing was really the same anymore. My range of motion was limited, my entire upper body was weak and I was in constant pain even though I’d become accustomed to it. I was told I would likely never return to full time work and that because of my pain, I’d never be active or able to run again.

This accident had forever changed my body and had pretty much touched every other aspect of my life as well. It was very hard to accept that so many parts of my life had changed forever because of something I had no control over.

It had been two years and I was tired of my life being about everything I could no longer do. I was ready to get some confidence back and find something I could do.
I decided that I wanted to learn to run again.

Every run was a struggle because not only was I weak but my gait and posture was so different now and my back pain made every step twice as hard. I shed many tears but stuck with it and slowly the runs started to get easier. I still had my pain but my body was getting stronger and I was able to run further.

As my distances increased, so did my confidence. I was feeling stronger and happier and having my running goals to focus on kept me motivated. It felt so amazing to be doing something I enjoyed with this body that had disappointed me so much since getting hurt.

I ran my first half marathon in 2008 and even though it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I kept on running. It remained a challenge but all of the training was strengthening my back and improving my posture. I was still weak and very, very slow but I was so thankful to be running at all that I kept a smile on my face no matter how far behind I got.


Learning to run despite so many challenges taught me so much about being thankful, believing in myself and not comparing myself to others. We all run for different reasons and I realized that as long as I was running for myself, it didn’t matter how fast or slow I was. Being able to run at all was the achievement and I was so proud of that. I still am.

It’s now been 6 years and I’ve gone on to run 20+ half, 5 full and 3 ultra marathons and I am still just as proud of my last place finishes as I am of my PRs. I continue to run because it helps me stay in shape and with a back injury, that’s the best thing you can do to manage your pain.

Running helped me get my confidence back, find some purpose and feel good again about who I was. It changed my life physically, helped heal me emotionally and I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not had the courage to dare to run again.

2 comments:

  1. Nikki is also one of my favourite running mama bloggers! Her story is so inspirational and really shows how you can do anything if you are determined enough!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nikki's smile when she runs is such a light. I absolutely adore her blog and her unbelievably positive attitude, it's truly inspiring :)

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