Kathryn – April 2013 ( 20-23 weeks post surgery)

On April 1, I ran 3 miles without stopping!   A small, but essential accomplishment.  My next goals are (1) to run regularly and gently on the trails once a week for my “long run,” for time, not distance; and (2) to be able to run our neighborhood 5K in early June.  So far, so good.  Did 3 miles again later in the week, then a run/walk (8 minutes run/2 minutes walk) sequence on Saturday for an hour.   On the other days I walked and/or worked out on the elliptical machine, continued yoga 2-3 times a week, and biked on Sundays for an hour or more.    During the month of April, I gradually increased my two weekday runs to 4 miles of continuous running, then dared to add another day of running, starting with half a mile, increasing in 0.1 mile increments.   For Saturday long runs on the trails, I added 10 minutes of 8/2 run/walk segments each week, working up to an hour and a half out there!  So happy to be on my trails again. 

In the meantime, I accepted a job offer to start something new, which was a big deal since I had been with the same firm for 28 years – so more changes coming up in June.  What better time to take a little vacation (use up those days!) – so we went off to Big Bend National Park for a few days of hiking and solitude, which resulted in a week-long break from running.   With my new found patience, this was no big deal!  

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Kathryn – March 2013 (16-19 weeks post surgery)

I will endeavor to be brief and not spend too much time on a blow-by-blow account of my recovery.   Now almost 1 year later it is hard to believe that I even had this surgery, although I still allow some accommodations by giving myself extra recovery time after running. 


During the month of March 2013, I followed weeks  5-8 of the “Couch to 5K” plan which incorporates 3 days of gradually increasing running intervals.  Started with ½ mile run/ ¼ mile walk – repeating 3 times.   By the end of the month I was running 2.75 miles without a walk break!   I usually did running workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, then walking and an elliptical workout on Tuesdays and Thursdays, only walking on Friday, and a bike ride on Sunday.  In the first weeks of March my husband and I travelled to France for our annual visit to see family and friends, so most of the walking and running was either in parks & roads in Paris or on country trails.  It was cold though, with even a few snow flurries to dodge at times, but no problems with footing.   Back in Houston mid-March, I also continued my yoga classes, now up to 3 times a week, work permitting.  The best part of March was the end of the month when I returned to the trails, at last!   Houston has some hidden gems of trails that are not far from my house, so I welcomed spring in the forests along the Buffalo Bayou.   For these longer (4 miles, but whatever!) runs, I used my “trail pace” of running 8 minutes and walking 2 minutes, which is very easy on the legs.  It was also nice to cross paths with some of my trail-running friends, whom I had not seen in 6+ months!… (Click Here to View Full Post and Comments)

Kathryn – February 2013 (weeks 12-15 post surgery)

Finally, I “officially” ran again on February 4, 2013, exactly 12 weeks after my total hip replacement.    On my daughter’s recommendation, I checked out the “Couch to 5K” program which is available online, since it is a very low-pressure program for sedentary folks to get running.  At this point, I think it’s safer to me to avoid doing too much too soon and just pretend I need to learn it all over again.   The first workout was to walk to warm up, then run 60 seconds, walk 90 seconds, for a total of 20 minutes.   I felt slow, but the bones and muscles are fine!     I repeated this workout a total of 3 times that first week of February, and alternated with walking days + an elliptical machine workout or a bike ride.    

This was a hectic month, since I was selected to serve on a jury for a trial that lasted 7 days, and my mother was hospitalized in critical condition at the end of January and remained very sick for all of February, although she was finally improving as the month drew to a close.   Still, I kept up most of my routine.   For the second week of February, my 3 running workouts increased to run 90 seconds/ walk 2 minutes for a total of 20 minutes, then 22 minutes, then 23 minutes.   Again, alternate days included walking, elliptical, and/or a bike ride.   Total: 2.65 miles of running. 

Third week of February:   3 running workouts, this time with 2×90 seconds run/90 seconds walk, then 3 minutes of running/ 3 minutes of walking, ending with 90 seconds running/ 90 seconds walking.  That was harder!     By the weekend, I added another 3-minute run/walk interval to the mix.    Alternate days included walking, elliptical, bike.  I took 2 yoga classes this week.  Total 3.8 miles of running. 

My log for the fourth week of February starts with “Really running now!”  I am not going fast by any standards, but I’m happily adding time and/or distance intervals each week and there are no mechanical or muscular issues anywhere on my body.  How easy … (Click Here to View Full Post and Comments)

Kathryn – January 2013 (10+weeks post surgery)


In spite of the best of intentions, I have not posted in a long time.   Nevertheless, I do want to provide at least a month-by-month recap of my recovery since I know how much it helped me to read the testimonials of others.   Perhaps my gradual return to running will provide insight to you as you map out your own plan to run again.  I do want to re-emphasize that the key piece of advice I got at the beginning was from posts by Alistair McAlpine (also a contributor to this site) – set 10 goals to accomplish after your surgery, small or large, keeping  in mind your recovery and your limitations.    Mine started at wanting to be able to walk around the block, then try to run after 12 weeks, moved on to wanting to complete (run/walk) the neighborhood 5K in June, and make a loop of my favorite State Park trail (about 12.5 miles) by the end of the summer.   

To finish up my January efforts, I walked a mile or to watch the Houston marathoners run by in my neighborhood on January 13, in spite of rainy, cold conditions.  My daughter ran by, looking great and fresh  (of course, this was at mile 4!).  I couldn’t help it, I ran a couple of blocks on my way home and it just felt so good but was bittersweet.  Later the same morning, my husband and I went over to watch the runners again at mile 22.  Again our daughter just ran smoothly and comfortably by us, so good to see!   Watching the parade of marathoners, even on such a cold a wet day, made me more resolute to get out there and run again. 

In January I continued daily walking,  a bike ride each week (about 10-12 miles), 3 elliptical workouts  per week, plus one yoga class weekly, daily pushups (up to 24 /day) and regular daily sun salutations.   

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Kathryn – Weeks 6-7-8

So sorry not to have posted in a while but with the best of intentions I will try to recreate my experience and add to the hopeful chronicles in the blog.   Spoiler alert:  yes, I have been running since February 2013 (waited 3 months) and yes, as of today, nothing hurts.  I’m not running fast (well, I was never really very fast!) or long yet.    Not a problem, I’m just being super conservative in my path back to running. 

Week 6 after surgery (Dec 24-31) brought the holidays and a second follow-up doctor’s appointment.  My Christmas spirit kicked in at the last minute and we managed to throw a minimalist holiday celebration together with family and friends.   In Houston’s “winter,” I walked 2.3 miles in shorts on Christmas Eve, but the next day the temperatures dipped back into the 30’s, so I kept on walking, but with more clothes on!   My doctor’s appointment was all positive – I could ditch the cane, and I got the green light to start back up on the elliptical trainer, as well as on the bike.   Yoga, with caution, was also permitted, but still no crossing my legs and no bending past a 90-degree angle.    She still wanted me to wait until 12-weeks post surgery to attempt any running. 

I asked about the leg-length discrepancy, which still mildly bothered me.   I questioned why my doctor had recommended that I use an arch or heel support in my left shoe.   She explained that both of my legs are the same length and the surgery did not suddenly make the right (operated hip) leg longer than the left.     The hip dysplasia and resulting inflammation and pain had left my pelvic muscles tilted more and more over time, and even though she had gotten my bone structure back on an equilibrium (the X-rays prove it), the muscles surrounding the bones were going to take their own time to straighten out.   Thus, the heel lift on the left side would make me feel more comfortable but not keep my left leg shorter.  

This is still not intuitive when … (Click Here to View Full Post and Comments)

Kathryn – Week 5 (December 10-16, 2012)

Microscopic improvements continue.   I’m almost working a full day every day, and managed to skip an afternoon/ evening “nap” almost every day!  I have more energy for everyday tasks. Truly, the chief annoyances I have left are (1) the cane; and (2) having to use the abduction pillow while sleeping.  I’m convinced that this uncomfortable gadget is waking me up at night – which seems incongruous since I’m finally pain free!  Fortunately, it’s only for a few more weeks, and I am trying to stay conservative now in the hopes that I will ensure thorough healing and be free to do whatever I want later.  I don’t mind not driving – it’s even kind of nice to have a chauffeur and get door-to-door service wherever I need to go.  The leg-length discrepancy continues, but I guess I’m getting used to it since it is not too bothersome.


This is the week I found the “Hiprunner” blog and avidly read Tom’s posts through the weekly increments of his first year following his surgery, feeling more and more hopeful.   I see that occasional strange aches and pains may occur, but they go away again, and that’s part of the healing.  By the end of Week 5, I am walking 2 miles comfortably, and my pace is sneaking underneath 20 minutes/mile.  Not very impressive, I know.  I call upon patience, and trust that being conservative will pay off.   The weather keeps surprising us, cold one day, and warm and humid the next.  One advantage of walking vs. running is that you don’t need much in terms of “technical” clothing, either for the cold or the heat – you just put on as many or as few layers as necessary, and it doesn’t impede your progress.  Plus I’m not worried about looking “sporty” or anything – just happy to be out there.  Moving up to 17 pushups every morning along with some abbreviated yoga stretches.

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Kathryn – Week 4 (December 3-9, 2012)

Life is gradually getting back to normal.  This week I ditched the compression hose and all bandages, etc..   Finished up the prescribed iron pills and aspirin.  I’m only using pain medication sparingly – once or twice a week I feel achy and will use a minimal dose to get back to sleep.   Blood pressure and blood levels normal.  Working about 6 hours per day this week.  Walking with a cane is annoying, and I keep forgetting the cane as I move about the office or from place to place.  I even forgot it at the bank ATM machine, so a kindly stranger came running after me with it.

I continued to increase my walking distance about 0.1 mile each day, so the farthest daily mileage this week was 1.6 miles!  Our weather was unseasaonably warm and humid (even for Texas), so I had to break out the shorts again for my morning stroll.  I am now using the walking stick dutifully for going up and down curbs, but generally just swing it alongside of me for walking on the trail or sidewalk.

Started doing chaturangas (yoga pushups), up to 15/day.  All this laying and sitting around is starting to bother me.  Still banned from yoga though!… (Click Here to View Full Post and Comments)

Kathryn – Week 3 (November 26-December 2, 2012)

Sorry, I’m still way behind in my timeline, but wanted to try to capture the details as best as I can.

Back to work part-time beginning on Monday, cane in hand.  Since I have mostly a desk job in a law firm, this is not a problem, but I do a lot of staff training all over the office and in 3 different locations, so the cane is a little cumbersome.  I was mainly surprised at how tired I was for the first few days, and happy to go home at midday, have lunch, and take a nap.  Each day I worked for about 30 minutes longer, so that by the end of the week I stayed until mid-afternoon.

Pain is not consistently noticeable, I’m more bothered by stiffness, weakness, leg-length discrepancy (operated side now feels longer than the other), and that feeling of having a big lump of healing tissue in my behind.  Continued walking every day, using my handy walking stick each day about 0.1 mile longer.  Occasionally I’ll bump into friends on the trail and confide my tail of woe.  Most are very encouraging, surprised that I am even walking at all.

Met my surgeon on Thursday the 29th for my first follow-up visit.  She’s very happy with my progress, says I can ditch the cane at home but still advises using it in the outside world.  The X-ray was fascinating – although I’d seen so many sample “hip replacement” X-rays while anticipating this surgery, it was amazing to see that mechanism in “my” bones.  There’s even a nice little screw holding the acetebular cup in place.  Can’t feel a thing of all that.  My only prescription is still just to walk, as much as I want, but no other activity, yet.  No more compression hose after next Monday, thankfully, but I’m obliged to continue to abide by the other precautions (no bending, twisting, crossing my legs, etc.) and no driving.  The incision is practically completely healed, so soon I’ll no longer need a dressing either – just a few more days.  Next appointment is in … (Click Here to View Full Post and Comments)

Kathryn – Week 2 (November 19-26, 2012)

Short progress report for this week:  walking more, adding about 0.1 mile per day, still using a cane at all times, or a cooler “trekking pole” for use outside on the gravel trail nearby.   Since the trail is about a third of a mile from the front door, I worked towards getting there so I could expand my somewhat limited horizons.   We enjoyed a potluck style Thanksgiving with my extended family, and I got off easy this year with the surgery being my excuse to just sit around and eat what everybody else cooked.  

Week 2 objective met: Walk one mile per day with the cane.  I’m averaging about 22 minutes per mile!   I guess you could say that’s a PR for the new hip!… (Click Here to View Full Post and Comments)

Kathryn – Week 1 report (Nov. 12-19, 2012)

First week after the surgery was a definite lifestyle change!  I had not been hospitalized since the birth of my second child 30 years ago, but the 4 days there were less traumatic than I anticipated.    My surgeon visited bright and early the morning after the surgery and confirmed that there had been such severe damage to the joint that she was surprised I was even walking at all unassisted.  Her only prescription now was to get back up and start walking for the next 6 weeks.   Had a shot (in the stomach!) of something to prevent blood clots, and I have to take iron pills for a months due to low hemoglobin levels.   The physical therapist arrived about 9:30 AM to get me up and show me how to walk again.   Using a walker, I stood up, and suddenly realized the extent of the surgery.  I felt like I had lost all ability to move my right leg.   There seemed to be a giant lump in my right buttock at the surgical site.  I walked about 100 steps, all the while feeling like that right leg was operating in a completely different geometrical plane than the rest of my body.   Day one made me feel very challenged.   

During the remaining days in the hospital I gradually emerged from the grogginess of the pain medication, reduced the dosage, and walked a little farther each day, even twice a day!   Small victories for now.   I had a few other leg strengthening exercises to do in bed, nothing dramatic or hard to do.   The full leg-length support hose I have to wear are amazingly uncomfortable, but required for the first few weeks, also to prevent blood clots.   No more anti-clotting shots in the stomach though after the 3rd day.    There’s another instrument of torture called an “adductor pillow” that I have to wear strapped between my legs while laying down and sleeping.   Very annoying – I won’t go into detail. 

When I was released to go home on Thursday the 15th, I was better able to use the walker to get around, … (Click Here to View Full Post and Comments)

Kathryn – About Me

On November 12, 2012, I had a total hip replacement on the right side.   A decisive date, no doubt about it. 

Here’s the back story:  I have been running since 1994, pretty much middle-of-the-pack, having fun.  I really found a niche in marathons and have run the Houston marathon every year from 1995 until 2012, but eventually moved on to the trails where I guess my running heart truly lies.  I took on 50k and 50-mile distances, mainly in and around Texas, but occasionally explored some mountainous locations (Big Horn, Grand Tetons).  I ran mostly injury-free until about 2 years ago, when pain on the right side (moving inexplicably from groin to femur to hip to glutes and everywhere in between) brought me to seek chiropractic help (no improvement, they said it was sciatica) and, finally orthopedic expertise.   I learned in October 2011 that I had osteoarthritis of the right hip, brought upon by hip dysplasia.   (And no, I am not a large dog, either!)    By then, I was feeling a lot better, so I dismissed the orthopedist’s dire warning of “no more running” and bumped things back up a notch.  I had more or less continued to run in spite of the pain, just scaled back on distance and did more cross training with biking and swimming.  I thought I had cured myself, ha!.   Fast forward to August 2012.  I ran a blissful, pain-free 15-mile run in the woods of Huntsville State Park (about 60 miles north of here).   A week later, the pain returned, and I could barely finish up a 10-mile jaunt around town with my sister.  After another few weeks, I could only make it half that distance.   This was even worse and more worrisome than the pain of the year before.   I finally went back to see the orthopedic surgeon in October 2012, where an X-ray revealed that my condition had dramatically worsened.  I felt like they thought it was so bad that I should get on the operating table right then and there!    Despair, of course.   This was the “no running” doctor. 

My doctor/ … (Click Here to View Full Post and Comments)