Returning to Running

The joy that comes from returning to running.

By Andy Jones-Wilkins on March 11, 2016 | 11 comments

AJWs TaproomAs regular readers of this column know, six months ago I underwent hip resurfacing surgery under the skilled care of Dr. Thomas Gross in Columbia, South Carolina. Today, I am thrilled to report, that I have successfully returned to running and am preparing to run the Hardrock 100 in Colorado in just over four months. While this may sound foolish to some and perhaps reckless to others, I have a fair degree of confidence that I will be able to successfully finish the race. I will not make a final decision to run until June 1st, but as of now things are on track.

I must say, returning to running gradually over the past few weeks has been exhilarating. I certainly anticipated a few bumps in the road and there have been some. However, with each passing day, as I’ve slowly and deliberately increased my volume and intensity, I have been overcome with gratitude; gratitude for my surgeon, gratitude for the support of family and friends, and gratitude for the simple ability to put one foot in front of the other again.

Honestly, ten months ago when I received the end-stage arthritis diagnosis it hit me hard. With running so much a part of who I am, hearing that made me feel like I was losing a piece of my soul. Now, six months after my surgery, my soul feels more intact than it ever has, and each time I head out on the trails is a treat. I know, too, that this run up to a 100-mile race will be far different than any of the others I have had in my life. With a re-constructed hip I know that my running gate has changed and the way my body reacts to stress has been altered. That said, I am not sure I have ever been as motivated in my life. I am truly a new man!

Yesterday, I went out for a run. It was a stunningly beautiful day. I hopped onto my favorite trail system with no plan and just started to move. I listened to the birds, smelled the early spring flowers, and marveled at the late-afternoon sunlight peeking through the trees. It felt almost primal. As 30 minutes stretched to an hour I felt my pace increase, my breath relax, and my legs flow. For the first time in a long time, I felt the rest of my life slip away as running became not only what I did but who I was. In that moment, all was right with the world.

Honestly, today as I sit on the cusp of an unknown but exciting future, I am filled with wonder and hope. The way I feel today is the way I wish everyone could feel at least once in their lives. The arrival of spring here in Central Virginia only adds to the allure. Running, at once such a simple and complex thing, truly makes me whole. Almost losing it and then getting it back has been a gift that I may only realize years hence. And for now, it’s all about the training!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Avalanche Brewing CompanyThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Avalanche Brewing Company in Silverton, Colorado. A great little brewery tucked away in the corner of town, Avalanche makes a great smooth sipping summer beer called White-Out Wit. It’s a light tasting Belgian style varietal that goes down super easy. It will likely be one of the first beers I look for after kissing the rock in July!

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  • What fond memories or feeling do you have of returning to running after a hiatus?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

finished in the top 10 men at the Western States 100 7-straight times. He's sponsored by Patagonia and Drymax socks and is iRunFar's editorialist.