Wednesday, 8 April 2015

My hips, my parkrun and me

Very roughly speaking it has now been 16 months since my last parkrunfans blog post. That period of time has coincided with a bit of a "falling out of love" with running. Don't get me wrong, I still love parkrun, but for a number of interrelated reasons I haven't been able to enjoy it like I once had. And it's fair to say that having less love for running had stifled my urge to blog about parkrun.

Now I really don't know how long this renaissance will last, but for now at least, I feel that urge again.

There have been some huge parkrun milestones in the intervening period, and I might come back to cover those in later posts, but for now I want to explain my falling out of love with running and the drastic measures I have taken to make sure I can get the greatest possible enjoyment out of parkrun again.

Let's start back at the beginning of my parkrun journey....

In January 2010 I was having significant hip problems due to a life of sport and probably some genetic pre-disposition. I saw a consultant and was told that I needed to have both of my hips replaced! I was only 35 at the time and felt "too young" to consider such a drastic approach. Instead I quit playing football and started the longest period of inactivity I have ever had...that lasted a couple of months and then in early April 2010 I found Coventry parkrun. 

Now running may not be what the Consultant would have prescribed, but I found that it didn't hurt like the football did, and I was ok at it. Within just a few weeks I was a sub-19 minute runner.

I caught the parkrun bug and it started to replace football for me.

Fast forward 3 years and I reached my parkrun and general running peak (to date - ever the optimist!), getting my parkrun PB down to 17:27 and PBs at every distance I attempted.

After that there was what started as a natural gentle slide from my peak, but  then with a gradual return of the old hip pain, this slide picked up pace (as I lost it!) and before long it became clear that this was not a temporary loss of form.

During the last 6-12 months I reached the point where I gave up running (except for parkrun of course) and took up cycling instead. And in the last few months, even parkrun had become agony. The first 5 minutes might feel ok, but the rest was just hobbling and grimacing and certainly not enjoyable at all.

This distressed me greatly!

Since "finding" parkrun I have hoped it would be a weekly fixture for the rest of my life, such is the positive way it allows my weekend to start. Not being able to enjoy it was not acceptable for me.

A couple of months ago I decided that it was time to cure the problem and contacted a consultant. Between us we agreed that it was time for a Total Hip Replacement of my left hip. The right one might be done at some stage in the next few years if all goes well I'd guess.

My aims include getting rid of all the pain experienced in the simple everyday tasks such as driving or putting on socks, but extends to a return to running at pace and with enjoyment rather than pain.

So, last Wednesday I had my new hip (ceramic-on-ceramic for a better expected life span for young active patients).

I am now a week into recovery and walking with crutches. My leg is battered and bruised, but I am walking several times a day and I can manage the stairs, albeit slowly. Running feels a long way off, I have heard mention of 6-12 months before proper running, but I believe jogging will be allowed way before that.

One of the great things about parkrun is that I don't need to be race fit to take part. I can certainly go once I can jog, and even as a walker I would be welcomed. To know that I have parkrun to help me return to running will be a real motivation for me. And even before I can walk I will be able to volunteer. I was a bit spaced out on the post-op drugs at the time, but I'm pretty sure I volunteered for a few weeks time, from the hospital bed the day after my op. I did specify a seated volunteer role though!

I'll probably try and blog again in the coming days, weeks and months to update on my post-op recovery. Hopefully it will turn out to be a very positive story on my return to parkrun from my Total Hip Replacement. I wonder if parkrun is prescribed by the NHS yet? And if not, why not? As I can't think of a better thing to aim for and to aid in post-op recovery.


  1. As a 22.56 minute Parkrunner with occasionally dicky knees ans a sciatic bike, I feel very fortunate to be able to be able to run with only such minor moans. I'm sure you'll get back out there!

    1. With the broad appeal of parkrun I'd speculate that there aren't too many ideal specimens at parkrun events. But that accessibility is one of the major draws, I'm sure you'd agree Simon. Keep running, and when the pain stops you, fix the pain and get back out there as soon as you can (safely)!


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