Transitions: Moving On From Ultrarunning

[Editor’s Note: iRunFar contributor Morgan Williams sustained severe injuries in a fall while trail running in June of 2016. He wrote about the injury in a narrative last year. In this essay, he narrates his continued recovery and his evolving relationship with running.]

Four hundred and eighty-five days. Since I ran. Since I fell. Since I slipped or tripped running fast downhill, landed on my left leg in full extension, suffered an eight-break tibial-plateau fracture, twisted violently and ruptured both my anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments, and then landed heavily on my right shoulder and broke my collarbone. I never do anything by halves…

Toward the end of my first meeting with the consultant surgeon, me in the prone position with the left leg in plaster from groin to big toe, he said: “I’m afraid you won’t run on that knee again Mr. Williams.” So, when in early November of 2017 the physiotherapist suggests I go outside into the car park to run, it should be a critical moment. It doesn’t feel like that though. In truth, I’m not sure how it feels, how to react. Afterward, I conclude that it’s just another part of the recovery, another step on the road to somewhere new. My new, unexpected relationship with running.


In July of 2017, my wife Alison and I finally move ‘home’ after 18 months of effort; away from the urban environment in which we have lived for many years. Our new home is in a farming hamlet of 24 dwellings in the southern tip of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in England. The landscape is rolling rather than mountainous. We are delighted by the new sense of space. Our previous home was in a small town of 15,000 people nestling under a famous expanse of heathery upland we call moor. We hadn’t realised how the moor, even at the relatively lowly height of 1,400 feet, restricted our view, and the expansive views are refreshing. Some evenings on my drive home from work I have to stop the van, step out, and photograph the landscape.

photo 1 - Winterburn sky

Winterburn sky. All photos: Morgan Williams

The quiet is exhilarating. We soon learn the different reaction of the human body to being awakened in the small hours by natural sounds as opposed to the inebriated ramblings of neighbours’ teenage children. When we are awakened by the hooting of the barn owl or the mewing ‘piiiyay’ of the buzzard, sleep returns quickly.

Our new home nestles perfectly into the landscape. It has been there for a long time. A small slice of English history. The Chapel House, as it is officially called, was one of the earliest nonconformist chapels in England in use from 1703[1]. The Toleration Act of 1689 was one of the most significant religious reforms in England following its break with the Catholic Church. The Act exempted religious dissenters from certain penalties and disadvantages under which they had suffered for more than a century. Nonconformists were, after 1689, finally allowed their own places of worship.

Alison and I aren’t religious people, but living with the ghosts of nonconformists feels very right somehow. And our home has a good feeling that comes with a building that has had constant human interaction for more than 300 years. A wonderful place to repair, recover, and live.

photo 2 - The Chapel House

A historic photograph of The Chapel House.


One hundred and forty-five degrees. Of knee flexion. On a good day. On a warm day. On a cold day, probably closer to 135. The flexion has been stuck at that level for 10 weeks or so now. The physio suggests we call it done at that. Time to concentrate on other aspects of the recovery. Healthy knees flex somewhere between 155 and 160 degrees. It doesn’t sound like much difference. In reality, this translates to a gap of around 12 or 13 centimetres between my butt and my left heel. The left knee will never be fully functional. It’s not life-changing, but life has changed as a result of the damage done.

“Can you empty those boxes of books and put them onto the bookshelves in your study?” It’s a simple-enough request from Alison, a couple of weeks after we move. When I come to start the task of putting the books on a lower shelf, I pause, having to think about how to get my body down there. I can kneel, but not for long because there is significant nerve damage in the patellar area. And I can’t squat down on my haunches because my knee lacks the requisite flex. It takes a few minutes to figure out how best to do the job. I nip next door to the lounge and borrow Alison’s meditation cushion. I want to sit on this to get me about eight inches off the floor. Inevitably, on my first attempt to drop onto the cushion, I misjudge my positioning and balance, flip sideways onto the floor, and lie there giggling. This sort of minor mishap is a regular feature of home life now. You have to laugh.


6 November 2017; the day I first ran again. I’m following the National Health Service’s Couch to 5K programme. We’ve all been there, coming back to running from injuries, or ailments of various degrees. This time though, it’s especially humbling. Like many others in our little world, I used to run whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted on whatever surface I fancied. By week four I’m up to repetitions of four minutes of continuous running interspersed with walking, on tarmac. There is as yet no joy in this; no strength, no power, no elegance. I’m doing it because I have been asked to as part of my recovery. When I run, the knee dominates me mentally. There is no relaxation. I recall the surgeon telling me to plan for a 30-month recovery period to reach my “new normal.” I’m only 18 months into that period. Things will improve, I’m convinced. Patience is key.


If I leave the Chapel, cross the cattle grid, and turn right, a ribbon of tarmac takes me up the Winterburn valley to a reservoir. Built around 1880, the reservoir feeds the Leeds to Liverpool Canal. This fine construction, primarily the work of the famous engineer James Brindley, was started on 5 November 1770 and connects the former industrial and textile centre of West Yorkshire, in the shape of the city of Leeds, with the port city of Liverpool on the country’s west coast. It is a mile each way to the water. Long before running features again in my life, I commit to making the journey up the road, walking, as often as I can. Most days I make the trip, whatever the weather.

It’s not an especially inspiring walk or run. Much of the valley is hemmed in by mature forest, a mix of various pines, firs, and deciduous trees planted not long after the reservoir was completed by the Victorian estate owners. But the view opens out as the reservoir is reached and the greeny-brown expanses of Winterburn and Hetton Moors, low-lying, undramatic, and yet still life-affirming, come into view.

photo 3 - Winterburn Reservoir

Winterburn Reservoir.

This slender strip of tarmac, winding its way up to the water, has unexpectedly become a key part of my life and recovery. Every trip up and down is a lesson in the natural world. I’ve begun to see the little things. I’ve watched the changing of the landscape over the months and learnt many things about the trees, the livestock dotted around, and the prevailing weather conditions. Best of all I have become familiar with the wild creatures that make their homes here; the antics of the crows and gulls that are so numerous; the roe deer that live in the forest; the two majestic pairs of grey herons that live in and around Winterburn Beck, the not-quite-a-river-yet-more-than-a-stream watercourse that flows close to our home and that connects the reservoir with the River Aire; the pair of buzzards that nest close by and rise and fall with the thermals.

photo 4 - one of our drystone walls

One of our drystone walls.

photo 5 - ferns on a Winterburn wall

Ferns on a Winterburn wall.

A walk up to the water feels incomplete without a sighting of one of the herons or the buzzards or hopefully, both. They have become talismans. Doctor Doolittle-like, I’m talking to the animals and birds. After months of traveling up and down, I’m now coming within about 30 feet of the herons before they take off and move up- or down-stream. It’s like I’m becoming part of the landscape.


“Does it still hurt?” is the most often asked question. The answer is, yes it does. Not just the plated knee, but the plated collarbone also. All day. Every waking minute. Not enough to require pain-relief medication. But enough that a couple of pints of strong beer have no effect. I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it. Things are marginally better after an active day, rather than a day behind the desk at work. Without fail, active day or work day, by mid-afternoon my knee feels like it has been filled with concrete. The cruciate ligaments and the hamstring tendon, from which tissue to repair the cruciates was borrowed, feel like bass-note piano wires. I maintain hope that by month 30 the discomfort will have reduced to a level where I can forget about it for at least part of each day. Patience.


May 2017 of brings a good moment. iRunFar’s Meghan and Bryon are in England. We host them at the old home for a night on their way north. Meghan gets some miles and vertical in on Ilkley Moor. Bryon and I get out for a walk to help him ease back into things after his Thames Path 100 Mile (with beer stops I recall…) and potter around looking at numerous cup and ring rock carvings from the Bronze Age anywhere up to 4,000 years old[2].

photo 6 - cup and ring marked rock on Ilkley Moor

Cup-and-ring-marked rock on Ilkley Moor.

Then they shoot further north to the Lakes to start Meghan’s preparation for her attempt on the Bob Graham Round. Meghan records her successful attempt in this article.

Bob Graham days are always intense and Meghan’s day was no exception. Alison and I were ‘between’ campervans and made do with the car for support, not least because Wynn and Steve Cliff were on hand with their campervan. I had no idea how I would hold up during the full day and a bit, as the after-effects of the accident and two major surgeries were still in my system.

Happily, it all went rather well, as Meghan’s own write-up records. I had hatched a plan to try and meet Meghan on her 40th of 42 peaks, Dale Head, which is a relatively easy walk-up from the final major road-crossing/crew point at Honister Pass, which marks the end of the round’s Leg 4 and the beginning of Leg 5. Getting the timing right is difficult on Legs 4 and 5. There is no phone service at Wasdale Head (the crew point between Legs 3 and 4) or at Honister. If you are lucky, one of the on-the-fell support team members will send the occasional text to report on progress during Leg 4, which you pick up while en route to the start of Leg 5. So, it is pure guesswork on our part as to the timing of our departure up the hill so as to hopefully meet Meghan on the summit.

Dusk is drawing in as Alison and I set off, buoyed by the magnificent sunset we had seen from the pass, a real rarity at the often-bleak Honister. Armed with my trusty wizard sticks and hiking boots, and with Alison for company, I set out for my first mountain summit in almost 12 months. Like Meghan’s day, my small slice of action goes well. We reach the summit safely. Sadly, the weather deteriorates shortly after we arrive and my core starts to chill quickly. Post-accident I currently have a ‘no heroics’ rule, so we about-turn to make our way back to the pass and the car. We pass Meghan about halfway down, looking like a woman on a mission, if a touch worse for wear by then. About 59 miles and 26,500 feet of vertical gain will do that to you.

photo 7 - Honister Pass sunset

Honister Pass sunset.

photo 8 - Dale Head waiting for Meghan

Dale Head waiting for Meghan.

It’s an important day for me; a small achievement and another step along the bumpy road to recovery.

But in the weeks after Meghan’s Bob Graham Round attempt, I decide to relinquish the role of Secretary of the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club after 12 years. It’s clear to me that ultrarunning has no place in my future. The knee won’t stand that kind of abuse. I’ve always held the view that for a role where I occasionally have to ‘instruct’ people about their behaviour, being an active member of that community gives me at least a degree of moral authority to dish out the odd lecture. Now it’s someone else’s turn.

For many years acronyms have peppered my life: BG, CCC, UTSdT (the 110k Ultra Trail Serra de Tramuntana on Mallorca), UTMB. These efforts, all successful, played a major part in my life and are to be celebrated. They are good memories, are part of my past, and helped make me the person I am today, capable of dealing with the rigours of the recovery. It’s clear that I won’t get to do PTL or TdG, but there’s truly no sense of loss.

photo 9 - the UTMB years

The UTMB years.

I do have aspirations. The first is a 5k Parkrun, joining the 100,000-plus people in the U.K. who run at 9.00 a.m. each Saturday morning[3]. That gets done on 20 January 2018. Not pretty. Not quick. But no alarms.

My dream is to run the beautiful rocky ridgeline a stone’s throw away from home, between the cross and the monument, as it twists above the gorgeous Dales villages of Rylstone and Cracoe. Six miles. I’ll leave that until warmer months when the ground is dry. After that, who knows?

photo 10 - the Rylstone Cross

The Rylstone Cross.

photo 11 - the ridge

The ridge.

photo 12 - the Cracoe Monument

The Cracoe Monument.

By mid-February, I run for 49 minutes on gently rolling trails. Two days later, we do a six-mile walk in a loop around local hills. The ground is saturated, mud and water aplenty, and the boggy landscape sucks the life out of me. I realise that for now I have to choose my route, my weather, and my season with much more care. It becomes clear that at this point each effort drags a great deal out of me.

I run twice a week, maybe three times. The escape from the tyranny of the traning schedule is refreshing. My body (save for the damaged parts) doesn’t ache most of the time. I care nothing for the statistics of miles covered, feet ascended, hours on the feet. How I feel is the important thing. The experience, even in a 40-minute run, is everything.

And there is a frisson to every outing now. Every run could be my last. That’s no drama though; because I already did my last run… on 8 July 2016. Or so the surgeon said.


October of 2017 finds Alison and I in Nepal. We are there to help dig the foundations for a new three-storey classroom block at a secondary school on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The old block collapsed in the 2015 earthquake, fortunately when the children were elsewhere. Five days of physical work. Pick axes, shovels, wheelbarrows, vast quantities of sand, gravel, bricks. A site inaccessible to vehicles or heavy equipment. The knee and the shoulder come through the week without mishap and more confidence is squirreled away. Most importantly, friends are made and promises made to return.

photo 13 - Alison with the children at Bani Bilas Secondary School

Alison with the children at Bani Bilas Secondary School.

We have a few days in and around Kathmandu once the work is done and find ourselves hiking up a tarmac road at 5:00 a.m. one chilly autumn morning to watch the sun rise over the Himalaya.

It’s a spectacular sight because the morning is clear. Surprisingly, I find myself drawn not so much by the view to the high peaks, rather by the view eastward into a lower, less dramatic landscape, spectacularly illuminated by the rising sun; an incredible landskein. It’s an intriguing moment and I wonder if there is any symbolism in my turning away from the snowy mountains.

photo 14 - Nepalese landskein

Nepalese landskein.


A lot less time spent running has made time for other things. I have been reading; a lot. Strangely perhaps, I haven’t read a book about running since the accident. Whisper it, I’m even spending less time on iRunFar. The natural world has featured strongly. Robert Macfarlane, Gavin Maxwell, Lyall Watson, Jim Crumley, George Schaller, Edward Abbey, Barry Lopez, Nan Shepherd, J. A. Baker. Two books in particular have become bellwether works, delighting and enlightening: Macfarlane’s The Old Ways and Baker’s The Peregrine.

photo 15 - the top shelf

The top shelf.

Records reveal that at its peak, the Chapel, our home now, had a congregation of around 65 people and that many of them walked distances of up to seven miles to get here. The Old Ways, in particular, (a “book that could not have been written by sitting still”[4]) triggers thoughts and questions. I’m becoming fascinated by thoughts of where they lived and how they traveled from their homes to the Chapel. Which roads, which paths? Did they make their way cross country? How long did it take them to get here? A personal quest perhaps for me to turn to in time. It’s no surprise this beautiful building gives off an air of contentment; it was journey’s end.

My journey continues. Life is changing. It’s not better or worse. It’s simply different.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • If you are someone who has experienced a major health issue, how has your relationship with running evolved? Has your fitness helped you recover? Does the hope of returning to running help or have you had to intentionally turn away from it at least in part?
  • If you are a runner who can’t or doesn’t run as much as you used to, have you been able to take up walking, hiking, biking, or other forms of movement? What is your relationship with these new-to-you sports like?


[1] Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting Houses in the North of England, HMSO, 1994 page 250



[4] The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane, Hamish Hamilton 2012, Author’s note

Morgan Williams

was until recently the Secretary of the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club, which was formed in 1971, a post he held for 12 years. He is a past General Secretary of the Fell Runners Association, the body which manages the sport of fell running in England. He is member number 371 of the BG Club having completed the round in 1985 at the ripe old age of 21. After many years of fell and mountain racing, he returned to his mountain-ultrarunning roots in the 2000s completing amongst other races two CCCs (2010 and 2011), the Ultra Trail Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca (2012), and UTMB (2012). In July of 2016, he sustained major injuries in a trail running fall but, with lots of help, especially from his wife Alison, he’s fighting back.

There are 34 comments

  1. Sandy Stott

    Much gets written about getting faster…less about getting slower, and still less about the beauty and perspective sometimes found through and in that slowing. I realize your fall was abrupt loss, but your gradual emergence into the next world of motion is wonderfully told, and it seems that every day you rediscover that uphill is the direction of life. Thanks for your story.

    1. Morgan Williams

      Sandy, kind words, thank you. Life is different but no less full and intense. Inside and outside, I do what I can, with (mostly) a smile on my face and without regrets. Morgan

  2. Just a runner

    This post hit close to home for me. I also have chronic pain and it definitely has had a great impact on my life in and outside of running. The important thing is to not let it consume you. Ultrarunners especially tend to be very analytical and it is a tough pill to swallow when you have an injury that popped up out of the blue that doctors do not seem to understand. The important thing for me was to realize that i may have defined myself as a runner but that’s really only a small facet of who i am as a human being.

    That being said, if you have never experienced a real long term injury or chronic pain with no end in sight then consider yourself very lucky and never take running for granted. Because for some like the author or myself, it can be taken from you in an instant.

    1. Morgan Williams

      Just a runner, three perfect points.

      Don’t let the pain consume you. I hope it hasn’t anywhere near. After 30 plus years of running long I reckon I had developed a decent ability to welcome the pain in when racing, as the best mechanism for dealing with it. Knowing the damage done, maybe something similar is at play, less “welcoming”, more “acceptance”.

      Running truly is only a small facet of who we are, even if we think it is everything. Perhaps it takes something like this to acknowledge the fact.

      Never, ever take running for granted. Every run from here on for me is a bonus. At some point when the pain and discomfort reduces further, it might even be a delight again.


  3. Debbie

    Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing this article with us. I can’t imagine your journey, but I understand a little about how health and running are intertwined and evolve, often unexpectedly. I have several health issues that often force me to stop running for large chunks of time. It never gets easier and it makes me put into perspective that yes, I am a runner, but I am also so much more and can’t let it rob me of all the other blessings in my life, when I wallow in pity when I’m side-lined. But it is hard! However, when things are going well, running helps me stay strong and healthy and I reap the benefits of this sport I love so much. It’s hard when your heart and lungs are willing but the body keeps breaking down. We have to be grateful for every day and take each day individually and that’s how I cope. Grace and gratitude. Thanks again.

  4. Heinz

    I am since more than a year a reader of this marvelous site and already read a number of inspiring writings here. But now I HAVE to write a comment, because in your beautiful essay there is almost a magical part for me. You mention: “Two books in particular have become bellwether works, delighting and enlightening: Macfarlane’s The Old Ways and Baker’s The Peregrine.” – I read one of Macfarlanes’s book last summer – “The Wild Places” (during a very relaxing holiday with running and mountainbiking) and was led from there to Baker’s book “The Peregine” (which I have almost finished now – I tried to read it in synchronicity with the dates in the book during winter). Did you also get from the one book to the other? Both were a treasure for me, too, resonating with my appreciation for being outside. – My best wishes for your recovery and finding “new trails” in the spirit you have written down so well. Heinz

    1. Morgan Williams


      Thank you so much for your note.

      I have been reading Macfarlane since Mountains of the Mind in 2003 (I think).

      I’ve been aware of The Peregrine for many years but it took various mentions by Robert to really make me seek it out. I have the edition with Robert’s Afterword. I still struggle to process the effect the book has had on me with its extraordinary luminosity of language.

      If you haven’t seen the piece I link below, it is worth a read. Robert selects some of his favourites including The Peregrine. So perhaps 4 others to explore:

      Thank you also for your best wishes for my further recovery. I’ll keep struggling on.


  5. Brian Gargia

    July 2015 I had cancer surgery. I had just ran the Catalina Marathon in March and was getting ready to train for some up coming 50K’s. My first 100 miler was always going to be next year for the last 15 years, but life has gotten in the way.
    My recovery was slow and then the radiation kicked my butt. I have side effects from the surgery that have changed my life. I have “Mal de Debarquement” Syndrome. Other wise known as feeling like you just got off a boat. This lack of balance has changed my relationship to the trails. Additionally at a physical therapy session I was complaining about fatigue and the therapist let me know that my whole body was working to stay balanced and my 4 mile trail runs at 15 min pace was more like a 10 mile run and that I need to progress much slower and that I may never get to the 50K point again.
    Well I haven’t totally given up. Although running is not as fun. I get a little sea sick since my field of vision is similar to a film without the steady cam, Sort of like Jamie’s first movies.
    I still volunteer at events and follow the sport as much as before. I still think I have a come back in me but between the 9 additional surgeries and other life things training has not really happened.
    I may be limited to hiking as a release and a friend and I walked the LA Marathon at 3 am in the morning last year and finished up 1/2 hour after the Leaders. (the last 13 miles were on the sidewalks off the course).
    I still look at trail races and think about hiking an 18k or something. Trail running is part of me and I will be out there one way or another. So if you see a 60 year old guy with a prosthetic ear say Hi.

    1. Morgan Williams


      Quite a tale.

      Like you, I haven’t totally given up. But I’m clear the tibial plate and 8 screws have to have respect and I shouldn’t abuse the surgeon’s work.

      I can relate to the 4 miles is actually 10 miles issue. I had to measure my efforts now.

      Hiking takes me back to where I started as a child so I do find it pretty satisfying, and inevitably in a different way to the years of running. No less fun though.

      Good luck with your efforts.


  6. Christian B.

    Hi Morgen.

    I am usually a silent reader here on iRunFar, but I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. It is, in many ways, very inspirational. Good luck with your further recovery.

    /Christian B.

  7. pandaa

    Very inspiring story. Thank you for sharing ! Keep on fighting ! Because this is what life is 90% of the time, one way or another. And I would say your wife, by the fact that she supports and encourages you every day, is really awesome. Some don’t have this kind of support at home, and it’s pretty hard to find a way to be back without it :)

    Thanks !

    1. Morgan Williams


      You are right; my wife Alison is awesome.

      My first piece, linked in Meghan’s introduction, acknowledged her vital contribution to my recovery.

      We’ll keep on doing the hard yards.


  8. Steve Pero

    I really enjoyed your well written story this morning. It sort of hit close to home because after 42 years of running and 30 of those running trails and ultras I feel the wind has been taken from my sails…but I have no injury I’m recovering from, in fact I still run almost daily.
    After sharing the trails and our love of running ultra together for 17 years, my wife Deb had to have a knee replaced and is no longer able to run. We did all our running together and now I go out alone and it’s become routine, like going to work…especially the really long training that is required for the ultras.
    Yes, She is able to walk long distances and We do that regularly, but it leaves her with enough pain to ruin the rest of the day.
    So anyway best of luck with your recovery and returning to some semblance of your past running. Me? I see Deb and I enjoying our long hikes together as We once did our long runs and that will be good.

    1. Morgan Williams


      Back in the days when I had something of a Hardrock obsession, I recall reading your blog and Deb’s also regularly. So great to hear from you directly.

      My wife Alison runs too, to a better standard as a woman then me as a man, and we did plenty of running together. She never raced ultras regularly, so almost all of my longer efforts were done solo. These days we tend to go to the Parkruns together, so she shoots off whilst I chug round.

      Like you two, we now walk together. I was a hiker, mountaineer and climber long before I was a runner, and the mountain environment is still an important part of our lives. There’s plenty of challenge and satisfaction in that less rapid activity, as you both know.

      We’re just back from La Gomera, and I managed 6 days of hiking, covering around 85kms with around 5,000m of +/-. A great confidence boost that I could handle the distance and ground. I had a slightly swollen left calf one evening and must remember my compression socks now even when hiking!

      Thanks for your best wishes. Enjoy the long hikes and I hope Deb makes some further progress to reduce her pain level.


  9. Alex Parker

    Wonderful writing Morgan. I’m sure many here will be enriched by hearing about your experiences and your determination to recover and return to activity within your physical compass. I’ve only ever dealt with injury of the chronic, nagging kind, not the catastrophic sort that you experienced, but at 51 it’s more than clear that the aging process will eventually constrain, and ultimately eliminate, running from my life. So every run, every race is viewed as a bonus and a blessing at this point. Good luck on your continued journey back to fitness and activity. If it’s interesting to you, I can certainly recommend my old sport (road cycling) as a low impact way to get out and see a lot of that beautiful countryside you are living in.

    1. Morgan Williams



      I started to road cycle a few years back as patellar tendonosis started to impact after 30 years of running. Running was manageable, not in previous volume, but enough with my experience to get me through shorter ultras (50k up to 50 miles generally.) I have a decent carbon fibre Scott to help!

      Thankfully, the flexion at 130 degrees plus, allows for full rotation, so come the warmer months I’ll be back on the bike.


  10. Jamie

    Your story is beautifully written and deeply inspiring. While there is obviously sadness your gratitude for so much also shines through. While parkrun is a bit short for most of this site’s readers it is a great concept and I hope it continues to be helpful.

    All the best with your continued recovery

    1. Morgan Williams

      Thanks Jamie.

      I’m hoping to get nicely beyond Parkrun in time. No rush.

      If my story helps anyone in any way, that’s return enough for the minor effort of getting to down.


  11. Morgan Williams

    Thanks for some of the more recent comments.

    I’m currently away on vacation showing my knee a good time, hiking on La Gomera, one of the smaller Canary Islands.

    Back at the end of this week and I’ll reply to each of them when I’m home and don’t have to manage with just the phone.


  12. Abby

    Your words really resonate with me, as it looks like it has with others in this column. Last September, I too sustained a pretty traumatic trail running accident. I was descending down a trail off a mountain, slipped forward off a wet, leafy rock and destroyed my leg and ankle. I suffered a displaced spiral tibia fracture and a fracture in my malleolus. Laid there and waited nearly 3.5 hrs for Search and Rescue to come get me and then had surgery that night . I’ve got a lot of nice new hardware and the new nickname ‘Hot Rod’ for the rod in my tibia now. I just ran (more like shuffled) for the first time late last month and boy was that an odd feeling. This whole recovery has definitely shifted my perspective on running though. I feel like I’m no longer in a rush to get faster or run further. I’ve accepted the fact that this will take many more months of continued rehab and patience and I’m perfectly okay with that. It’s hardships like these that allow for us to grow and appreciate joy when it comes our way. That was the biggest life lesson I learned through my accident. Sorry for the lengthy message, but I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your words.

    PS: I too, also have moments where I have to think about how to maneuver my leg in certain situations such as kneeling or squatting. Ends up looking like a silly transition at times, but it works!


    1. Morgan Williams


      I’m sorry to hear of your own fall and damage.

      I recall the 40 minute walk on my badly damaged leg as one of those experiences that I’d choose not to repeat but which in hindsight, has added something to my life. It’s amazing what you can do if you don’t know how badly you are hurt.

      You sound like you have the right attitude; acceptance is necessary allied to a sensible determination to make the best possible recovery.

      In my first piece, linked in Meghan’s introduction, I mention a Facebook page for people with multi-ligament injuries like mine. Often folk rush their recovery and the consequences can be catastrophic. Patience is key.

      Fortunately, the running and cycling really don’t fuss the knee; it’s the domestic stuff that requires thought and more care I find.

      Good luck with your own recovery, I hope you get back to doing the things you want to.


  13. Heidi Armstrong

    Morgan! We have the same condition. I don’t know if anyone has talked with you about this, but what we have is called arthrofibrosis. It’s very rare. I have a page on my website all about it. You can read more:

    I was a professional mountain bike racer when I fractured my knee in a freak cross country ski racing accident. I had to quit my career and my life completely changed, just like yours. I have adapted and thrived despite facing the same challenges you face and 8 knee surgeries.

    I had been informally coaching injured athletes for about a decade, but after my accident I decided to spend a year doing research with injured athletes and I created my business, Injured Athlete’s Toolbox. I teach injured athletes the essential tools for injury recovery that enable them to move from feeling frustrated,
    impatient, and angry to feeling optimistic, resilient, and motivated. My injury allowed me to pursue my passion.

    My full story is here:

    If you have questions about arthrofibrosis or finding a new normal, or just want to converse with someone who gets it, I’m at [email protected]

    Here’s to grace while finding a new normal, adaptation, and even joy.

    1. Morgan Williams


      Good to hear from you.

      As my first piece noted, I’ve gained immeasurably from a Facebook page for those with multiple ligament injuries. This has been as much if not more about support from those moving along a similar road to recovery as it has been about detailed advice. You soon learn that each of these injuries is unique.

      I am still in the hands of the physio once each month and expect that regime to continue until perhaps 30 months post-surgery.

      I need to get back on top of my exercise regime but hopefully the warmer weather just around the corner will help with that and the road bike will soon be calling, assuming the snow goes away for good.

      As you say, forward. It’s the only way.


  14. Nathan Toben

    Ultrarunning literature is too often bloviated or drunk on the sound of itself.

    Other than your lucid honesty and skilled storytelling, perhaps part of the chord you are striking for many of us is that rather neglected “mental acreage” of stoicism, measured action and right-sizedness. Truly important words for all of us and the deep tone of your writing bares a lesson that I think many of us will miss.

    1. Morgan Williams


      Those are good thoughts. I hadn’t thought of things in quite those terms.

      For sure, this recovery demands way more than any race I ever ran, and it quickly teaches you to be realistic and measured in your approach to many things.

      Currently, my limits are quickly reached; but that will change, and every small advance is worth having.

      Thanks for reading.


  15. Heidi Armstrong


    Thanks for your note. I know of the multiligament group on FB because I have numerous clients who are part of it. In fact, one of them sent me your piece. I am not part of it.

    Have you and your medical team talked about you having arthrofibrosis? A lot of medical teams will avoid diagnosing someone with it because: 1) they see it “never” and are unable to diagnose it, so they refer to it as simply scar tissue; 2) they don’t know how to treat it, and; 3) it’s a grim diagnosis.


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