Yesterday I completed 82 miles and 5,385 ft of elevation, hiking the magnificent Ridgeway over three days as I marked XNRG’s awesome Druid’s Challenge (see excellent review Adam in Runderland: The Druid’s Challenge). As I neared the finish, hiking up the 3 mile hill to Barbury Castle guided by my head torch and the light of the farm from the top of the hill, I felt quite emotional, almost euphoric. This would have seemed an impossible achievement earlier in the year.
Why? 5 months ago, I had my right hip replaced and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to participate in ultras again. In the days leading up to the hike, fear of failure and self-doubt crept into my thinking. I wonder whether the pandemic has made me a bit more insular and less inclined to challenge myself. Does this resonate with you?
In July 2020 I contracted Lyme’s disease from a tick bite, so it’s been a while since I have covered ‘ultra’ distance and I wasn’t sure whether my hip would be strong enough. Stepping out of my comfort zone has given me the belief that next year I will run an ultra and that’s such a nice feeling. Professor Hart of Joint Recon has plenty of patients who have gone back to running following hip replacement, but when you’re in your ‘winter’ (Life is a Sine Curve, explained) that success can easily seem out of reach.
The physio team gave me loads of good advice to speed my recovery. In my layman’s understanding, the ceramic hip and cement gluing it to my femur have a super strong bond, but the ceramic hip remains brittle and at risk of shattering from impact until the soft tissue and muscle fibres have embraced and meshed with the new joint. Apologies to the excellent medical team if my explanation is over simplistic!
So, I have exercised daily since the operation. Stopping with the crutch at day 17; started on the indoor bike at day 14; started indoor rowing with shallow strokes on my WaterRower from one month post op. Then 6 weeks post op had my first swim in the sea whilst on holiday in Cornwall. Three months in and I started run/walking and two weeks ago I ran my first two miles! Key advice was to keep loading the joint and working it and listening to my body to ensure I did not overdo things. Each step felt amazing and provided me with progressive milestones towards what I’ve achieved over the last three days.
What has not gone well
Early September I hurt some soft tissue at the front of the joint lifting too heavy a weight, so with a clear lesson learned I reduced the intensity of my training for three weeks and paid better attention to what my body was telling me. Full recovery will take another six months so I must not get carried away.
Cold water swimming has helped to reduce the inflammation and sticking to breaststroke has helped to strengthen the smaller leg muscles, especially the adductors and abductors. Something the physio team were keen for me to do. On a different note, as a long standing Intermittent Faster, I believe regular fasting has helped me to manage my weight during this period of lower tempo activity.
Stepping out of our comfort zone gets harder the older we get but is so important in helping us in our journey of continuous learning and self-development to be the best people we can be. Take some time out to reflect where you are in your life’s journey, where you are today on your sine curve. Try to peel back what you want to achieve next in your life and consider what fears you could address to help you progress in your journey.