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Eggs on Ice: My Experience with Egg Freezing

In February of this past year, I had a moment of panic. I was 37, recently single, and facing down the realization that if I wanted kids, my window may be passing. I wrote an entire piece for Outside Magazine on that (in)decision.

One of the most common questions people would ask when I mentioned my indecision and grief around kids is “well why don’t you just freeze your eggs?” Like it’s a decision about what to have for dinner tonight. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this process, it’s NOT that simple, it’s extremely invasive, and I highly recommend going into it with full knowledge of all the potential side effects that aren’t really talked about. I actively avoided some of that information because I was afraid that if I “knew too much,” I wouldn’t go through with it.

Like everything I write, this is going to get long and detailed, so here are the quick and dirty facts of my experience up front for people who just want the basics:

Facility: CCRM (Superior, CO and Lone Tree, CO)

Age: 38 (just turned 38, if that matters)

Number of Eggs Retrieved: 39

Number of Eggs Frozen (Mature): 31

Cost: Cash Price for one cycle at my facility would $11,900 + meds (which are a few thousand total). I have coverage through Apple, so my out-of-pocket ended up being $2175 ($1175 “nursing coordination fee” that isn’t covered and a $1000 deposit I’m trying to get back) and $750 for Omnitrope, which was denied by insurance because it’s off-label. The rest of my meds were covered. 

Stim Protocol: Menopur, Gonal-F, Omnitrope, Dexamethasone, Ganirelix, dual Lupron/HCG trigger. I was supposed to do two weeks of birth control before injections started – I didn’t do it (whoops sorry docs!). I also kept my IUD in during the entire process, which is allowed at most clinics I believe.

Worst part: the days post-retrieval. It took me about two and a half weeks to feel “normalish” again

Most surprising: The 10 days of stims and injections weren’t so bad. Post-retrieval was awful.

Exercise: Clinics recommendation was no heart rate above 140, no running or impact during all of stims and then for 10-14 days post-retrieval (or until you get your period). I ran super short and easy until Day 5, then started running again 5 days post-retrieval. Kinda stuck to heart rate cap, kinda not. 

Would I do it again? Absolutely not.

Am I glad I did it? I think so. I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings that I think will take me awhile to sort through.  

The Why 

It may sound counter-intuitive to freeze my eggs since I had already found myself at peace with life either with or without biological children (or with adopted kids, stepkids, foster kids, etc). But kind of like the healthiest relationships come when you already feel like a complete person by yourself, I felt most at peace with the process if I didn’t tie myself to the outcome here. If I was fortunate to have great results, fantastic. If I didn’t have a good outcome, then at least I tried. I’d be ok either way, and I KNEW that. 

So why wait so long? Honestly, for most of my adult life I internalized externalized feedback that I would be a horrible mother: I was too selfish, I wasn’t nurturing enough, I was too emotionally unstable, I would pass on my eating disorder to my children since I couldn’t take care of myself. I suppose I just wrote myself off for a long time (which makes me sad in hindsight – mostly just that I believed all those things people told me). Through a lot of therapy this year, and through living my own truth, I came to realize that I am actually AM nurturing. I like to take care of others: I’m happiest when I’m doing that. But there are also many ways to do that – not just through biological children. But I figured the little voice had been in my head for long enough, that it was worth going through the process instead of having it take up brain space consistently nagging “what if?”

The Timing

Timing with egg freezing is tricky for athletes as you are looking at anywhere from 2-4 weeks of no running and probably 6ish weeks of not exactly feeling the best (thanks hormones!). Knowing this, I figured I had two windows: (1) injury; (2) off-season. The problem with waiting for injury is that you need to plan this out a few months in advance (and no one plans for injury). So off-season it is. I first contacted CCRM in early September, and told them “I would like to start around November 15th”, which was right after World’s Toughest Mudder and the beginning of the off-season. 

To my chagrin, the doctor told me that my ovaries would need at least 6 months to recover from an ultra before we should start a cycle. I chose to ignore this advice, knowing that that was a risk I was taking. For obvious reasons, doctors want to set you up with the best chance of success, and because your body is so out-of-whack post running for 24 hours…it makes sense. However, it doesn’t really make sense for off-season timing as an athlete. So I chose to forge ahead on my own timeline, and it luckily worked out for me. 

The Stimulation Process

In a move that I probably wouldn’t recommend, I purposefully didn’t do a lot a research into the prescribed meds and the regimen because I knew that if I researched too much, I’d likely back out (Dr. Google will ONLY provide you with horror stories). I knew it was about 10ish days of injecting myself with hormones in the morning and evening, but knew nothing about the drugs they gave me. I have a history of fainting and I can’t look at my own blood when it’s being drawn, so I was understandably concerned about being able to inject myself. 

But on the advice of some great people on Instagram, I made myself an “Eggs on Ice” playlist (that mostly consisted of early 2000s Nelly for god knows what reason) and had a little dance party mixing my meds each morning and evening. For the most part, it wasn’t bad at all. I bruised myself a few times (you inject mainly subcutaneously into the stomach), and I started to run out of places that weren’t sore, which did result in a mini-meltdown around day 5. After that, I started to use my outer thighs in addition to my stomach and that helped a bunch. 

The first 5 or so days, I felt totally fine. The only side effect was that the Dexamethasone made me feel like I was FLYING, and insomnia was really bad, even if I took in the morning. Sleep was not my friend. 

On Day 5, you go in for your first ultrasound and bloodwork where they measure the follicles and how they are growing. You then go in every single day after for an ultrasound to keep tabs on the follicles. Those suckers get big – REAL big. Day 5 mine were measuring 8-12mm per follicle. By Day 10 (which was trigger day), they measured 18-22mm per follicle. Doesn’t sound that big, but when you have 30+ of them…it’s not…comfortable.

Every day they call you with any changes in dosing to your meds (it’s pretty much FSH, LH, HGH, and then they add an agonist, Ganirelix/Centrotide later on to prevent you from going into ovulation so the follicles can get REALLY FUCKING BIG…did I mention science is so rad?)

On Day 10, they called me and told me it was time to “trigger,” which is an intramuscular shot you do exactly 36 hours before your retrieval. It’s timed to the minute so you ovulate at the exact time of retrieval and they can suck out all those eggs (again, isn’t science rad?)

I did a dual trigger – HCG and Lupron. My retrieval time was 1:45pm, so I had to do the HCG injection at 1:45am, and then the Lupron at 2:45am. I was terrified of the intramuscular injection – it seems like 99% of patients have their partner do the IM injection because you have to stick a 1.5inch needle straight into your ass.

I don’t have a partner (HENCE THE EGG FREEZING CAPTAIN OBVIOUS), and while my friends love me, I wasn’t going to ask someone to come over at 1:45am to shoot me in the ass. So I cranked up Nelly’s “Shake Your Tailfeather,” iced my butt for a good 20 minutes at 1am in the morning, and went for it. Honestly, once I worked up the nerve to stick the thing in my butt, I didn’t feel a thing.


By Day 10, my ovaries were so big they were “kissing.” Sounds sweet, feels awful. Retrieval was on Day 12 – standard kind of outpatient surgery. My wonderful and absolutely amazing friend Margaret Spring volunteered to drive me there and home because I’d be hopped up on fentanyl, propofol, and Versed. The procedure only takes about 20 minutes, and with pre-op and post-op, I was in and out of there in less than 3 hours. I remember waking up and a nurse coming to tell me they got 39 eggs. I yelled a bit too loudly for the recovery room “HOLY SHIT”. They then gave me Cheez-Its and a ginger ale and Margarete baked me uterus cookies so life was great…


…until it wasn’t. Woof. I’d been warned by online forums and the three friends (thanks Anne, Kat, and Emily!) who had been through egg retrieval that post-retrieval is actually worse than the 12ish days of stimulation. 

They weren’t lying. 

A few things that extra suck post-retrieval: (1) the cramping; (2) the fact that your estrogen levels are astronomically high (mine were at 6000 the time of retrieval) so you are at a high risk of OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome); and (3) constipation (due to the swelling, the opiates, and the stupid amounts of exogeneous hormones). Lemme tell you – #3 is no joke. I was prepped for this though – prune juice, Miralax, Colace, Metamucil – so it actually wasn’t a huge issue for me (but I have heard horror stories).

I really wanted to be one of those people who pranced through the entire egg freezing process being like “gosh that wasn’t so bad people are just weenies!” HAHAHAHA I wasn’t. I did breeze through the stims, but the post-retrieval was probably the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my life (and you all know I’ve done some stupid shit before). 

I did try and walk a little bit later in the afternoon post-retrieval. I made it about 12 minutes moving a snails pace. I felt and looked about 6 months pregnant and walking was painful. For the first few days after, walking was pretty much all I could manage. They said I could go back to the work the day after retrieval, but even with a desk job and working remotely, I had to take a sick day.  

I managed to avoid OHSS by eating COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF SALT. Seriously – I drank pickle juice, chugged LMNT packets, bone broth – it sounds backwards but that’s what helps draw the fluid out of you or something (not a doctor so don’t hold me to that)

As the days rolled on, the more frustrated I became with how things STILL weren’t going back to “normal”. They were getting better, but not as quickly as I was led to believe. My boobs hurt something awful starting about about two days before retrieval. My shirts wouldn’t fit over my stomach. Thank god I only wear elastic running shorts because I’m sure pants wouldn’t have buttoned up. Doctors will tell you your body will normalize when you get your next period, which is usually 5-14 days. 

It’s now Day 21 post-retrieval. My boobs stopped hurting about Day 17 (phew!), and I’m still a bit bloated, but for the most part feeling normal (I’ve been told that ovaries can take up to 6 weeks to go back to normal size, especially if you have a successful retrieval and get a lot of eggs). 

Trade-offs of a successful egg retrieval = awful recovery

the bloat is real

Things No One Prepares You For

Here’s the thing that threw me for a loop: I was expecting to be extremely emotional due to all the exogeneous hormones. For the most part during stims, I felt pretty even keel. What shocked me was the weird depressive and “numb” feeling I got in the days post-retrieval. I’m not sure if it’s due to the massive amounts of hormones slowly leaving your body, but I just lost interest in…everything. I didn’t want to see people, I didn’t want to do anything. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t sad. I was just…numb. And given how normally full of emotions I am, it was a bit concerning. 

So prepare yourself for that possibility. No one really did for me, but it does make logical sense when you think of what you just put your body through. 

Considerations for Athletes

For the most part, doctors recommend no exercise where your heartrate gets above 140 during stims and for two weeks after. No twisting/no impact because of the risk of ovarian torsion. So for runners, that means anywhere from 3-5 weeks off of running. You will most likely have to do two weeks of birth control before injections start, so factor that into your training as well. 

I ran short and slow up until the 5th day of stims, and then switched to biking, stepmill, elliptical, and incline treadmill hiking. Around day 8 of stims, my ovaries got painful enough that outdoor biking started to be a no-go (any type of uneven pavement or pothole sent a shockwave through my body…so no mountain biking or gravel biking either).

Honestly, even if I was told I could run throughout the entire process, I wouldn’t have wanted to. It was just…uncomfortable. I stuck to a spin bike and walking right around retrieval, and was able to get on a bike outside 3 days post-retrieval. I did a short, slow run Day 5 post-retrieval and I will fully admit it was probably too soon. I felt “ok” during it, but my ovaries killed me for the next day. Day 7 I started easing back into running with zero issues after that.

One thing I did notice was that my heart rate was abnormal high during stims and for about two weeks post-retrieval. I have no idea if that was related to the hormones, the swelling, or the insomnia, but it’s something to consider for athletes. 

I’m three weeks post-retrieval and still feel a bit “heavy and slow.” So I’d strongly encourage to time the process with an off-season and not anywhere near a big training block. 

Consideration for people in Recovery from Eating Disorders

In 2017, when I almost went through with freezing my eggs the first time, the thing that stopped me was the fear of what would happened to my body. I was DEEP into my eating disorder at the time (I went back into treatment at 2019), and couldn’t wrap my brain around the “weight I would gain” during egg freezing. And I was terrified of it this time around, but I knew had I more tools to deal with it. This time, I was mostly scared that my changing body would trigger a lot of eating disorder thoughts and want to throw me back into eating disorder behaviors. 

Surprisingly, during the stims, this didn’t happen at all. I had bad GI issues for most of stims (indigestion, heartburn, gas), so I was more focused on actually getting enough food in. I noticed my belly getting bloated and my face getting puffy, but it (hooray!) didn’t bother me.

Where it DID bother me, though, was post-retrieval. I have no idea if it was related to the hormones, but my body dysmorphia got bad. REALLY bad. I battled extremely strong restriction urges, which only got worse the longer my body stayed “inflated” (I like that term because I literally felt like a balloon that needed to be popped). Days 7-17ish post-retrieval I was legitimately white knuckling it trying to not give into behaviors. I didn’t, but only thanks to lots of therapy and lots of “outing” myself with these thoughts to friends. 

While I’m still struggling a bit with this stuff, for the most part, it’s getting better. I guess I expected them DURING the stims, not after, so I do want to flag that for anyone with an eating disorder history.

Unrelated to eating disorder thoughts but related to eating disorders: I was told for many, MANY years that 20 years of starvation probably affected my fertility to the point where I wouldn’t be able to have children. I think that’s a common thing that’s told to eating disorder patients. I could just be incredibly lucky, but that wasn’t my case. My doctor’s jaw literally dropped when he told me the number of mature eggs we got. I fully recognize that those eggs could all be duds (which I wouldn’t know unless and until I try and make embryos), but don’t give up hope and don’t write yourself off just because of your disordered past. 

How I Feel About it Now 

Honestly, I don’t know. During the stimulation process, I remember feeling extremely empowered being able to take control of my own fertility. I think the trainwreck of a post-retrieval recovery period tainted my feelings on it and made question whether it was “worth it” given my body’s extreme rebellion.

Further, the more I learned about the process, and the more I talked to other women going through IVF, the more I saw what an absolute expensive crapshoot it is. There are women who want babies so badly and go through rounds and rounds of egg retrieval and embryo transfers and spend close to $100k getting there hopes up, only seeing one failure after another. I can’t imagine that emotional rollercoaster. 

I carry some guilt that my retrieval was so successful and I’m still undecided on children. That I didn’t take all of the doctors’ advice (I didn’t give up caffeine, for example), and it didn’t seem to affect my results.

But I also now know, though, that the biggest problem with egg freezing is that it gives women a false sense of security. When you do IVF and fertilize the eggs immediately, you know right away if your eggs are “duds.” I have 31 frozen, mature eggs, but if and when I ever go to fertilize those eggs to make embryos, there’s a very large possibility, especially given my age, that a lot of those eggs could be abnormal, resulting in very few embryos. And THEN, most women experience at least one failed embryo transfer. So even if you have normal embryos, there’s no guarantee the transfer takes.

While it is absolutely incredible that science now gives us this possibility, it is a process that is fraught with emotional peril, not to mention the physical toll on the woman’s body. Honestly, I don’t know if I want that for myself, though I’m open to my feelings changing.  

What I do know is that I have a lot of love to give in the world, and that the rest of my life is going to be amazing, whether that involves my own biological children, adopted children, foster children, stepchildren, or no children at all. That is the one thing I’m sure of. 


Our Bodies, Our Responsibility, and the Media

(Content warning: This post contains my thoughts and feelings around my body and pictures of me. There are no numbers, behaviors, or weights.)

In early 2017, Men’s Health reached out to me to feature me in a story about obstacle racing. As part of that, there would be a photo shoot. I internally cringed a bit. I’d had a tenuous relationship with photo shoots for years, but a different kind of guilt was emerging this time. I knew that I was in a rough patch with my eating disorder, and I was aware that I was not comfortable in my body at the moment. Namely, I thought I was too lean. While the story wasn’t about my body (it was about tackling your first OCR), I felt a sense of guilt that my image would be attached with the story – that I could be projecting an unhealthy ideal. 

I almost backed out of the shoot, but I tried to remind myself that the responsibility was on the magazine, not me, to vet its images. But is it? Where does the responsibility lie? 

Continue reading Our Bodies, Our Responsibility, and the Media

The Recovery I Needed

In March, after sustaining my fourth stress fracture in the past three years, I wrote that it was time to take a step back and re-evaluate – to stop “fighting the water.” I’ve fought like hell these past few years to try and keep myself healthy and running like I love to do. And while I was tired of fighting for many reasons, internally I knew I had one big fight left in me. Because there was one thing that I hadn’t tackled head on in a very long time: my eating disorder. 

I’m not dense: I’ve known for a long time that I’m the living, walking example of RED-S (also known as “the female athlete triad.”) I’ve known that probably a huge reason that my bones keep breaking is because I have a 20-year history with anorexia. But I wanted to be that person that could right the ship on my own. I’d been in and out of treatment so many times in my life, I wasn’t ready to admit that, in my mid-30’s, I was STILL battling it. There’s an awful sense of shame in feeling helpless to fix things when you pride yourself on being self-sufficient and able to do hard things. There’s a paralysis that comes with the cognitive dissonance of KNOWING what you need to do, but continually falling short of that.

But the hardest things to fix are the things that we don’t want to admit to ourselves. And I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it on my own.

So in April, I took a leave of absence from work and headed to Seattle, where I’ve spent the last three months at Opal Food & Body Wisdom, an eating disorder treatment facility. 

Continue reading The Recovery I Needed

Don’t Fight the Water

When I first started swimming, I couldn’t understand why it was so hard. I knew there were probably a million reasons for it (my last swimming lessons being at 8 years old, super long limbs and short torso, a runner’s mobility), but every swim felt like I was thrashing against the water – it was so exhausting. 

When you have a best friend who is an Olympic medalist swimmer, you clearly go and ask her what is wrong. Of the many things she told me, number one was “don’t fight the water. Let the water guide you – work with it.” It took me a bit, but at some point, that notion clicked, and swimming became much easier (though I still liken myself to a drowning porpoise and regularly get passed by 70 year olds).

I’ve taken that simple phrase, however, and taped it above my desk at work: “Don’t Fight the Water.” Because, unknowingly, over these past few months, I’ve been fighting the water in so many ways in my life, and I’m realizing it’s a battle I can’t win.

A few days ago, at the end of a run, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my heel. With a big race “out there” looming, I shut it down, rested, and prayed it’d get better. Frankly, I thought I had majorly effed up my Achilles, and feared the worst – months and months of tendon rehab. An MRI told a different story though: my Achilles is pristine (yaaaay!). Unfortunately, however, I had an early stage bone stress injury in my calcaneus.

Frankly, I’ve never been so relieved to have a bone injury – compared to an destroyed tendon, bones are WAAAAAY easier to deal with, and we caught it early enough. But the gutting loss of a season that was just about to get started cut deep – deeper than any loss of a race before. 

I shed my tears, spent a few days on the merry-go-round of self-flagellation, and then, like I’ve done so many times before with every injury/setback/failure – took stock of the situation.

This one was clearly on me. After coming off injury in the fall, time was short in order to be semi-race ready. I felt the mounting pressure every day, the growing despair of being nowhere close to where I was a year ago at this time. I pushed, perhaps a bit too aggressively, knowing that I was riding a line, and taking a risk. But the passion was so strong to get back “out there,” it was one I was willing to take.

Sometimes risks pay off. And sometimes they blow up in your face.  

Unfortunately, this calculated risk resulted in the latter. But if I had to do it again, would I do it any differently? If I’m honest with myself, probably not. 

I think the hardest part is that I learned this lesson once before: after breaking my femur, I pushed aggressively trying to get back for the Spartan Race World Championships in 2016. That also blew up in my face, resulting in the sacral stress fracture. I’ve been beating myself up these past few days, telling myself that I should know better. That, for better or worse, I have a history of bone injuries, and that trying to “outsmart” my body a second time was a recipe for disaster. 

Currently, I’m working on giving myself grace. I don’t really think this was a “mistake,” but more arrogance that I thought I could escape unscathed. But sometimes we make the same mistakes twice. Sometimes we have to learn a lesson over and over again. Sometimes we throw caution to the wind in spite of the risks, and that’s ok. 

As much as being sidelined again for a short bit sucks, I’d rather be here than not having attempted to race at all. As I said last year: “failure is not giving myself the opportunity to try.” I tried – unfortunately, it resulted in me not even getting to the start line. There are some passions in life that are worth it, and this was one of them. (let’s be honest – I imagine I’ll have to learn this lesson again at some point. I think most athletes do.)

All that being said, what’s become crystal clear to me is that, just like fighting the water in swimming, I can’t fight my body and win. The body will always have the last laugh. 

Frankly, it’s exhausting. Worrying about race deadlines and readiness and every ache and pain is all consuming, and I know there’s a better way, because I’ve done it before: when I started training and racing after my sacral stress fracture, I cleared my calendar. I went really slowly in build-up. I was ok letting things flow. I didn’t set artificial timelines.  And I made it back and started racing happier and with more passion than I ever have before. 

I’ve taken my risk, and I failed. So it’s time to take the foot off the gas pedal. To slow down in order to speed up. To heal my body, and get rid of this injury cycle once and for all. And with a history of bone injuries, a key part of that is going to be getting my hormones figured out. Letting my body rest. And honestly, gaining weight and body fat. I’m not dumb, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room: I’ve known for awhile that I’ve been hanging onto a muscular, lean physique that, while it might have worked for OCR, is not compatible with ultrarunning and multi-day endeavors like I want to do. I thought I could be the exception, but once again, the body has the last laugh. As uncomfortable as it may be for the vain part of myself, I’ll likely be more resilient and injury free with extra body fat and weight. Maybe not, but considering I’ve done all the other work (strength training, rehab, Vitamin D levels, etc) and I’m still suffering from bone injuries, it’s worth a try.

I’ve had multiple people tell me that I should hide this latest injury – that multiple bones injuries like this are shameful, and that I’m opening myself up to criticism. I understand many athletes hide injuries, but that’s not me. Maybe at one point in my life I thought I was invincible, and I thought admitting injury would make me be less of a “badass,” but that’s no longer me. This is my life, and my story, and I will own my mistakes and shortcomings, in all their full glory. It’s true to who I am, and the type of person I want to be. And if I can help others along the way in their journey, and let them know that “hey, we all struggle in our own ways,” even better. 

As scary as this all is, I’m actually excited to tackle it.  I’m excited to get back to racing healthy, and in due time (this summer most likely, but I’m not setting any firm plans). What’s funny is that, as tough as this injury cycle has been, I’ve never let go of the unwavering belief that my best running and racing days are still ahead. I’m so excited just thinking of it. 

Life is pretty grand when you let the water guide you. 

As always, a HUGE thank you to my sponsors who have stuck by me through the ups and downs: HumanN, Ultimate Direction, Altra, Sufferfest Beer, Big Spoon Roasters, Rocktape, Goodr, and Pete & Gerry’s. As a sponsored athlete, being injured is one of the worst feelings when you think about telling them (especially when you’ve JUST signed on…sorry Altra…). But these companies are rockstars, and I’m so thankful they support me in every aspect of my life. And to Dr. Brink at Premiere Spine & Sport, who has served as an invaluable resource in learning about movement and my body. And, of course, to Coach David Roche: he’s always tried to rein me in (sometimes I don’t listen…and look what happens), but more importantly, he’s been the biggest advocate of me as a human being, not as a runner. I can’t imagine a better coach to have in my corner.


2018: The Year of Letting Go

Several months ago, I had a long conversation with one of my best friends from law school. 

“Amelia,” she said, “You are really good at holding on to ropes. And you excel at making sure you don’t let go of one rope until you have a firm grasp on another one. But sometimes that rope is cut from you – how do you handle the freefall?” 

Hmmm. “Not very well” would be a gross understatement. 

In looking back over these past 12 months, I’ve faced that freefall a few times – some in splendid ways, others in heart-wrenching ways. I don’t really believe in defining our lives based on 12-month periods (“oh, that was tough year,” or “that was a wonderful year!”), but I do believe in the end of a year as a natural time to reflect back on reoccurring themes and lessons in our lives, and how those shape our progress forward. 

And if there was one mantra I repeated to myself over and over in 2018, it was “let go.” 

Continue reading 2018: The Year of Letting Go

A Year of Return to Running Logs

Several months ago, I promised that I would share my return to running logs for those interested, not thinking that anyone would actually want to see them. Heh. Apparently, some folks were interested.

Extremely belated, but here they are (embedded below, or you can follow this link): Amelia’s Return to Running Log

Before you take a look, an important personal note:

I struggled mightily with whether to keep in the “injury notes” comments. I use this column with my coach to communicate any issues, etc., and I’ve made a point to OVERreport any niggle, in case we need to stop and readjust. Reading back through, I realize how absolutely scared I was to run. From a third person reading in isolation, you may think “holy shit this girl is a hypochondriac.”

And that’s fine if you do. Ultimately, I decided to keep the comments in there to keep it real – to show the mental anguish of coming back from injury. Coming off a year of not being able to run, EVERY ache and pain struck the fear of God into me. Reading back through the comments now is pretty hard – I can see HOW scared I was. I was paralyzed by the fear of reinjury, and had absolutely zero trust of my body. I spent most of this past year simultaneously being grateful to be able to run and being scared spitless that it was all going to be taken from me again in an instant. The mental block of being constantly broken was haunting. So I left the notes in there to show this dark side, to show that what we see through the highlight reel of other’s social media isn’t what is going on in our head.

I write this all to say that if you are coming back from injury and feeling all the feels, you aren’t alone. Freakouts are normal. But learning to rebuild that trust is critical. It’s only been recently (a year out), that I’m beginning to feel “normal” again.

You’ll notice in the logs that I had several various freak outs about different injury scares – (foot, tibia, femur, etc – you name a body part). Each one of these required 5-10 days off from running. But you’ll notice that early time off made it so these never progressed into anything worse. So my return to running was ANYTHING but smooth. It was also for this reason that I decided to include an entire year of the log – while the initial “return to running  ” ramp up only lasts a few months, that doesn’t mean the battle ends.

A few procedural notes:

  • For the first few weeks, all runs were done at no faster than a 10min/pace. As Coach David Roche said, “we are not running, we are getting the bones, tendons and muscles used to pounding.”
  • I started with 10-15 minutes of barefoot walking a day – some on grass, some on an incline treadmill
  • Pretty much all my running was done on dirt – I rarely hit asphalt.
  • For the first few weeks, I stuck on a dirt track where I made a lot of loops – makes it easier to abort and not be an idiot if need be.
  • A few weeks after return to running, I was knocked over by two dogs while running and ended up with a tibial plateau bone bruise and torn lateral meniscus, which required 3-4 weeks off from running. So I pretty much started over (again!) from ground zero in February. (hence the large chunk of XT (cross-training))
  • Coach uses minutes, not miles (except for long runs), and we made that switch partway through the year. I didn’t request it, but it works well for me so I don’t fixate on mileage
  • Log doesn’t include my strength work, which is generally 2-3x week and includes squats, deadlifts, lunges and other single leg exercises in addition to upper body and grip work for obstacle racing.
  • I only included until end of November this past year because…I’m lazy and you get the gist. Since November 2017, I’ve been hitting 60-70 mpw, with one big week at 90 before taper.
  • First tab of the log is the day to day, and I added a second tab which shows you weekly mileage totals
  • Yes, it would be much easier if I just posted you all to Strava to see this. I understand the log is probably not the most user-friendly to read. But to ward off the “why are you not on Strava” questions – I know myself well enough to know, at this point, I too easily fall into the comparison trap (which led my down the past to a broken femur in the first place). I don’t care about people seeing my stuff (I’d actually love to share!), but I’d need to prevent myself from looking at other the only drunk goggles on gmail to prevent drunk emailing (oh…college)

Some  stats:

  • Highest mileage week (through November 2017) was 65 miles, but the bulk has sat around 35-50 (after the gradual ramp-up). Since the end of the log, I’ve been at 65-70mpw consistently with one week at 90.
  • I didn’t hit a 20 miler until December 23rd, 2017, over a year since I started running   again (which may surprise some folks). Up until December, longest run was the Spartan Race Word Championships in Tahoe. We’ve focused on getting consistent lower mileage 5-6x week versus long “epic” runs (which is ALL I used to do pre-case of femurs)
  • For those interested in my pace, “easy” in logs means MAF, which is around 148bpm for me. It’s difficult to correlate that to pace since I rarely run purely flat and most of my runs have a fair amount of vert. Hence, using HR as a guide.

Every runner’s journey back is going to be different, and I imagine there are a lot of you out there being like “wow she’s still so low mileage!” or “she took it WAY too conservatively.” Sure, perhaps. I know plenty of other runners who have ramped up much faster and been just fine. For me, getting over the mental block of rein jury and the fear of high mileage probably made me more conservative than we needed to be. But I also was off from running    for almost a year, and, therefore, we had to treat me like a brand new runner. If you have a shorter layoff (3-4 months), you may be able to return to mileage much quicker (general rule of thumb is that if you are off of running  for over 9months, maybe even 6 months, you are pretty much starting over from ground zero. Sucks, I know).

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have – as always, I’m not a doctor nor do I pretend to play one, and I can only speak to my unique experience. Every runner, and every injury is going to be different.


The Injury Commandments

While it’s not something I’m exactly proud of, if there’s one thing I’ve become well-versed in this past year and a half, it’s been dealing with injury. And not because I’m the master of recovering and returning to sport in record time, but because I failed hardcore at it. I screwed up injury recovery in pretty much every way possible, and I paid for that. I’ve spent a lot of time this past year writing about the mental side of injury, yet haven’t touched much on the nitty-gritty of rehab and rebuilding, for two main reasons:

(1) I made a lot of really foolish mistakes
(2) I’ve been afraid of jinxing myself (seriously, I’m superstitious like that)

Yet, like with all the writing I do, I always hope that my blunders, screw-ups and errors can hopefully help someone else, so I figured it was time to nut up and admit all the things I did wrong, the (few) things I did right, and the things I wish I had done differently (#nojinxnojinxjnojinx).

DISCLAIMER BECAUSE I’M AN ATTORNEY AND REALIZE THAT THESE DISCLAIMERS DON’T WORK ANYWAY: Please realize that this list is personal to me and based on my experience. I’mnot a doctor, nor do I play one on a 30-minute sitcom (though I always liked to think that Elliot from “Scrubs” was my soulmate). These are simply things that worked for me: take what you want, and leave the rest.

Continue reading The Injury Commandments


Race Happy

I feared my return to racing, and I faced that fear. I feared not being the athlete that I once was, and I’ve wrestled with my struggle to live up to those expectations in the rebuilding process.

What I haven’t talked about, however, is that there is another reason I feared returning to racing, and this one is more difficult to grapple with than worrying about sub-par race results.

I feared my own return to racing because I feared the person racing makes me.

And I didn’t want to go back to her.

For as much as I love the sport of obstacle racing, I wasn’t quite sure I actually loved the circuit of racing anymore.

Continue reading Race Happy


Recovery: On realizing you aren’t superhuman

It’s been 6 weeks since that fateful run where lightning bolts shot down my leg.

When the initial MRI was taken, and my sentence was given (12 weeks until running, etc.), a part of me held out hope in the back of my mind that the doctors were just being conservative. C’mon – I’m the girl who returned from knee surgery to win World’s Toughest Mudder exactly 8 weeks post-op. Surely, by 6 weeks out, I’d be close to running again. I’m superhuman, or so people tell me.

Instead, after 5 days of testing walking about, I’m back on crutches. 4 weeks of non-weight bearing, they initially told me. Never would I imagine it could possibly be…more. (c’mon…I’M SUPPOSED TO HEAL LIKE JOHN CENA, PEOPLE)

Continue reading Recovery: On realizing you aren’t superhuman


When it all comes crashing down

There are times in life when you feel like everything is FINALLY coming together, like life is finally making sense.  And you are happy. Really, truly happy and excited for what’s to come.

Unfortunately, it always seems like life has other plans for you. Maybe a reminder that “heeeey there, Amelia – you’re flying a bit too high – don’t be going all Icarus on me now. Remember that time you accidentally stepped on a  newt while running? Well karma wants to come back and kick you in the nuts right now.”

Continue reading When it all comes crashing down