Culture

Why One Runner Traded In Riding Boots For Running Shoes

After a riding accident, one woman worked hard at finding a new passion

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Running came into my life in a much unexpected way, but I am grateful for the journey. In July 2007, I was in the ring warming up my horse when a freak accident occurred. He reared straight up, and before I knew it I was on the ground unable to get up. I had a burst fractured vertebrae and would soon have eight hours of surgery with a neurosurgeon and orthopedic surgeon working to put me back together.

Now with titanium rods and screws in my lower vertebrae and months of just lying around and healing, I started the journey to ride again. However, with a lower back that doesn’t flex, riding just couldn’t be the same. Riding was my passion—now what do I do?

I was never a runner before my injury, but I saw a lot of friends had fun racing 5Ks; maybe that could be my new passion. First time out the door, I made it a block. I signed up for my first 5K in 2009, unsure if I would be able to finish. But I did finish, and I was hooked. By the end of the year I ran my first marathon, finishing with tears of joy.

Related: What The Heck Is Ride And Tie?

The road forward hasn’t always been smooth; some tibia, fibula and metatarsal issues and a pelvis fracture later, I found out I have osteoporosis. My bones break easy. What’s worse? The medicines I take for my asthma increase the risk of fracture. This means I have to be careful about how I ramp my distances up, what shoes I wear, which surfaces I run on, what I eat. Things that some might monitor to optimize performance, I need to monitor just to be able to perform.

After all of these injuries there are still creaks and pains, but I have learned one thing: a lot of people around you are running through things and issues that you have no idea about. All the potential and real turmoil, for me and for every runner out there, is worth it for everything running gives back to me—the great running buddies, the stress relief, the excitement of a race, the satisfaction of conquering new personal bests. Twenty half marathons, seven marathons, and two half ironmans later, I know there will be lots more bumps in the road to staying healthy to run, but that is part of the journey.