This week's guest at the Open Mic is Nikki Scott, who is the recent winner of the ExtraOrdinary Runner for her story, "I Never Thought I'd Run Again." Today she talks about a disastrous injury and her comeback. But more importantly, she talks about what she's excited about in the future-—including a very special event in her life—and reminds us that ordinary runners accomplish extraordinary things every day.
You had quite a 2008 with your return to running. What was the biggest obstacle to overcome?
There were many obstacles I had to overcome in order to get back into running this past year. Aside from the obvious physical ones – which felt insurmountable at times – the ones imposed by others were the hardest to deal with. With a catastrophic back injury like mine, every part of your body is affected, whether it was actually broken or not. I was told that because of my limitations and resulting pain, I’d likely never get back into any of the recreational activities I used to enjoy. However, after discussing it with my doctors and family, I was encouraged to give running a try – I was told not to expect much because it might just be too painful, but I wanted to give it a try. At first, I didn’t think I could do it, everything hurt, new things started to hurt, nothing felt right – it was like running with a broken-down body.
And of course, other people couldn’t keep their opinions and judgements to themselves – “Doesn’t that hurt?”, “Should you be doing that?”, “I thought you were hurt...” etc. It was and still is, really difficult to explain to people how important this goal was to me. And, yes it hurt, and yes it was hard, but the benefits I have gained from the running – getting in shape, getting fitter, losing weight, strengthening my hips, core and legs – have been hugely beneficial to all aspects of my recovery. I don’t expect everyone to understand what I’m going through, but I want people to know that physical activity is one of the best things someone can do for recovery of injuries like mine, and is the only thing my doctors say I have left to rely on. There are lots of things I can’t do, but many things I can. Anyhow, I haven’t let the naysayers stop me.
That if you set your mind to a goal, you can achieve it as long as you keep believing in yourself. I used to run before my accident, but getting back into it this time was so important to me because of my health and my well-being that it was a much more important goal. I learned a lot about myself in this process but by far the most important thing was that I was able to get through all of the negative stuff by keeping focused on where I was going. It feels good to overcome so many challenges and complete 3 half marathons. I barely thought the first one would happen let alone 2 more, and they each were more enjoyable than the last!
How are you a better runner or person since your comeback to running?
I think I run a lot smarter now. When I ran before, it was more about getting out there and showing my friends I could do it too. This time, I knew that if I wanted to run I had to learn to run properly including proper nutrition, hydration, injury prevention, technique, medical support etc., not to mention the fact that my body is so much different I had to start all over again. Because I was starting from scratch I let myself learn everything anew and let myself take whatever amount of time I need to progress. I don’t really worry about how far or how fast I run, just that I’m running and not getting hurt because of it. I would also say I’m a happier runner – I’m always the one at the back of the pack with a smile on my face, just happy to be there.
Well, clearly our pending arrival is one of the biggest things going on in my life right now. This will be our first child, so we’re busy learning a lot about what’s going on inside my tummy and how our life is going to change once he or she arrives. Given how important exercise has become to me feeling good, my doctors are very supportive of me continuing with the running, swimming and Pilates (it all helps control the pain) so I am busy sourcing out whatever I can about running and pregnancy. I’ve found a few good books, and have connected with some pregnant/running bloggers, but mostly am just learning things along the way. Running with a baby on board is definitely different, even when it’s as tiny as mine is right now (I’m almost 12 weeks along). I’ve been lucky that I haven’t been too sick to run, so I plan to keep it up as long as I can. It’s a pretty exciting time for us and we’re really looking forward to this summer.
What advice or encouragement would you give to another runner dealing with a setback?
Stick with it and listen to your body. Nobody recovers from anything overnight, it takes a lot of hard work to return from any kind of setback or injury. I think as long as people don’t expect it to be like it used to right away, they can overcome a setback and get back into running. I was always the slowest, always the last one in, always hobbling or hurting in some way, but I listened to that and adjusted my pace so that I could get through it and improve the next time. I think staying realistic is important.
What would your family and friends tell us about your passion for running?
I think they would probably say they are proud. I was never much of an athlete growing up, in fact, when I was younger running was definitely my nemesis. So, to see me return to running after inuries like these, my family has told me how excited and proud they are about that. I think they can see the benefits it has brought me, they can see that it makes my body feel better. They all surprised me and came to see me finish at my first half marathon – seeing the tears in their eyes, especially my dad’s, meant a lot. It was a fun finish.
Tell us about your interest in blogging.
Well, I have always liked to write and after following friends’ blogs for awhile I decided to give it a try myself. So I launched Slow is the New Fast. As well, with everything I’ve been through injury-wise, I like that I can get some of that out in the open for people to read and understand. I try to stick mostly to running topics, but everything else is a part of my life too, so I hope people enjoy reading it.
I have two. The Okanagan International Half Marathon was memorable because it was my third HM and my PB by far, but also the Nike Human Race was really memorable this year because of the unique atmosphere, beautiful course around the Vancouver inner harbour and the concerts afterwards. It was a very fun event.
Any quirky running traits?
I absolutely cannot run without my water belt – even if it’s only a short sprint! It’s almost as if its become a part of me now and without I feel off balance! If you see me running in circles out there, i’ve likely just forgotten my water belt!
What have you not done with your running that you’re still looking forward to?
One day I’d like to run a marathon (not sure if this body can!) and hopefully get back into sprint triathlons again. For now though, I’d like to run through my entire pregnancy – my mini goal for that is to try and run in a 10K race for every month...so far I’m on track.
What gets you excited about running?
Getting through the first 10 minutes because it reminds me of where I’ve come from. The first 10 are always the hardest and once I get past those I find my groove and really start to enjoy the run. It reminds me that there is always a little challenge to get to the good stuff.
What’s your secret to running success?
Believing in myself and not worrying about speed, I`m never going to win, so I may as well just enjoy the ride!
Even though it`s huge, I always enjoy the Sun Run.
The HM, but now 10k will be about my speed for awhile
Non- running and non-blogging interests?
Pilates, card-making, reading, crocheting – crafty stuff.
Greatest running moment?
Crossing the finish line of my first HM.
Most embarrassing running moment?
My friend and I were out running and we were running alongside a ditch – all of a sudden these ducks flew out of the ditch in front of us. We both stopped dead in our tracks an screamed for a second. It was really silly, we were the only ones out there but scared to death of the ducks!