My neurosurgeon and neurologist told me I would never be able to engage in physical sports again. They poignantly added that the likely hood of even running would probably not be an option as well. Though I had never really ‘run’ with any consistency in the past, my numbness and loss of motor control in my left leg seem to support what the doctors were preparing me for.
I didn’t believe it though. I didn’t want to believe it. It didn’t make sense to me. How could a person or persons tell me I would probably never be able to run because of numbness and loss of lateral control at my knee when there are people running with prosthetics?
It took about a year for me to really have measurable recovery from my back surgery. I wasn’t immobilized during that time but even beginning to walk naturally for the first six months took effort. It looked like I was trying to put some crazy swagger to my walk while I was dragging my numb leg around.
I did try to run early on in my recovery with the mindset of “I’ll prove them wrong.” However, I quickly realized the immediate pain and inflammation of doing so both scared me and created more numbness in my leg which set my recovery back. I was patient though and had it in my mind I would keep at moving towards being able to run.
It is interesting to start to run with a numb leg which you don’t have a lot of control of. I remember that one of my first small runs was a light trail run. It was comical in a sense, because I was spending so much time focusing on where my foot was landing (because I didn’t have a good sense of where it was) that I kept getting smacked by bush and tree branches on my face. It was like nature was telling me to slow down and move with care.
I joined a running group a year and a half after my surgery. Initially, there was a lot of associated pain. I needed quite a bit of recovery time. Still, not having complete control of my leg meant I was landing with a locked knee and loose ankle a majority of the time – ice and ibuprofen were dear friends.
I started to build endurance, strength, and control after a few months. I even regained more feeling in my leg. However, once the mileage really started to go up, I became aware my body was far behind my vision for running long distances at a fast pace. I had to reevaluate my situation.
I dropped out of the running group and restructured my running regimen and my life. I made my health and well‑being priority. I stepped away from a lucrative career which kept me working 12-15 hours a day and traveling months on end. I transitioned to doing things which made me feel good and gave me more time to eat right and exercise. This is where my story about run commuting really begins…
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Thoreau