SarahH – how I got here

Hi hiprunners,

Greetings from Day 9 following an anterior THR (uncemented ceramic/ceramic). Thanks to all of you who have posted about your own experiences, they gave me a much better idea of what to expect during my stay in the clinic.

Before I start posting updates I thought I’d first provide some history.

My backstory

I’m 49. While I consider myself more of a cyclist, for most of the past decade running has been my unrequited love. I’ve had a lot of running injuries just training for measly sprint & olympic tri’s. It’s been rather embarrassing and extremely humbling, especially since I was a decent sprinter in my youth.

It wasn’t until my late 20s that I got over my fear of ‘distance’ (read: anything over 400m), but from then to my mid-30s I was able to run casually and do the occasional 10k and even a half marathon without much thought.

Then we moved to France, and for the first few years I all but stopped exercising. After hitting 40, I decided to lose the extra weight, then to get back in shape I joined an expat triathlon club. While I really enjoyed training regularly and taking part in tri’s, every season I’d get some sort of show-stopper injury and would end up DNS for most of my events.

The magic formula: strength + frequency

After 6 years of trying out the usual suggestions (cadence, core galore, a run coach, etc..) only to be hit with another season-ender, I suspected my problem might be that my back and hips are so darn mobile that I need extra muscle to stabilize them enough to withstand training, never mind competing!

So I changed two things starting Jan 2019.

  1. Learn how to lift ‘heavy ‘ in the gym (by end of year I got up to 65kg for deadlift & squats, slightly over my body weight)
  2. Run slower but more often to improve run economy (If curious, google ‘BarryP 3:2:1 running’)

Hallelujah! Instead of getting injured from running a measly 3x/week, I was able to run 4-6x/week and felt great. My run volume got up to 50km per week, which for me was a big freakin’ deal. And I was still able to get on the home trainer at least 2x/week and occasionally swim….plus have my best week of downhill skiing, like, ever.

Best of all, after years of sadly watching the Paris half marathon pass within 200m of our apartment, I was finally uninjured and in great shape to run the 2020 edition on March 1st!!!!

Then came the pandemic

On February 29 the Paris half was cancelled (sad as I was to miss this event once more, my overwhelming feeling was relief as I’d been following the Covid news pretty closely since January).

On March 17 France entered strict lockdown. We could only go out an hour per day and within a 1km radius of our home.  Running was replaced by the indoor bike trainer, and strength went by the wayside as we had neither the equipment nor floorspace.

At the end of April I had a tiny fall that created a tiny fracture in my sacrum (yup, I also have low bone density). While it healed in a couple of weeks, over the spring & summer my back wasn’t happy, and my arthritic hip really started to make its presence felt.

Interestingly, cycling aggravated it far more than running. Not wanting to create dangerous new compensations, I stopped running and cycling altogether in mid-September and asked my sports Dr for a new diagnosis.

Since my MRIs showed a fair bit of cartilage, he thought I might have FAI rather than OA. Alas, a CT scan in October revealed not only FAI, but also a torn labrum and that the hip was bone on bone.

A lucky find

Fortunately, my sports doc referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who works exclusively on hips, particularly for “younger” (under 50), athletic types. He has great reviews, and encourages a full return to previous activity levels after recovering from surgery.

After examining me and my images, he initially suggested I simply take things easy this year and see how things are by next fall.  Er, no thanks, that’s what I’d done already for the past 2 summers: while 1 month of rest + easy core work was enough to get me back on track in 2019, the same approach didn’t work in 2020.

After I explained that, and that my overriding concern was actually my wonky lower back and low bone density, both of which really benefit from weight-bearing exercise…but only if I have stable hips!

That seemed to persuade him, and I appreciated that he did not automatically push surgery, and that he listened to my concerns. So between that, his excellent reviews, and his focus on hips alone, I was comfortable signing up for surgery with him without seeking a second opinion.

Surgery was set for Jan 25, 2021, 3 months after getting the rather disastrous results of my CT scan.




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    • #19320

      Hi hiprunners, Greetings from Day 9 following an anterior THR (uncemented ceramic/ceramic). Thanks to all of you who have posted about your own experi
      [See the full post at: SarahH – how I got here]

    • #19322

      Hey Sarah,

      Interesting story. One of the all-time great distance coaches Percy Cerruty of Australia pioneered heavy lifting with few reps for distance runners (the “gaunt is beautiful” distance runners). He was also a pioneer in hill running specifically sandhills.

      So, sand is of course soft for light impact, like snow and mud of course and going uphill is less impactful. So, perhaps speak to the ortho-surgery-doc-guy about that sort of training if you can find a variation of those types of surfaces. I am sure you already know, but hill running also improves form, stride length, power and lower leg/ankle/foot development. Think of a ballet dancer and how much power they have in their feet.

      The great Arthur Lydiard of New Zealand often talked about that and he developed a hill phase (which is probably too much for a middle-aged person, I am trying my first Lydiard hill phase in 14 years and 4.5 years post hip, age 55, so we are close in that regard). But I am doing about 20% of his hill phase…..

      So, your impact and power can be moved from knee/quad/hips to some degree down to your feet/ankle/calf and Achilles.

      Patience is the key, here, as uncemented means that the bone is growing around the prosthetic to support it, as opposed to the cement doing it. This lasts longer but takes longer to happen.

      I have a running friend. His wife just popped out of the hospital after one day Tuesday, from Monday surgery. Cruising around with her walker. Age 63. Took me three days (something about being able to pee on one’s own). I think we get excited that soon we will be running after leaving the hospital so quickly.

      Listen, my first “anything” outside was a 10K walk with ski poles three months and one day later. The route used to take me 37-45 minutes depending on the purpose of the run. That first one was 2:04:00 — I laughed out loud upon finishing. I can now do it in 47-49-minutes (and that’s after two Haglund’s deformity surgeries and the hip surgery and 10 years off, so 10 years more raisin-like).

      You will be great again.

      Look forward to hearing about your progress.

    • #19323

      Hi Christopher

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment and encouragement. And congrats of your comeback after 10 years off!

      I’ve never done hill sprints: not from lack of interest, but from lack of running base, plus a history of achilles tendonosis (this was the first of my many sports injuries). It’s hard to develop a decent run base when you’re continually in ‘return to running’ mode, and only running 3x week. Instead, I’d do 3-4 strides after my easy runs – something I continued when I began running more.

      I love sprinting so much that I have to be careful to not overdo things, and it’s true hills would make it that much harder to go overboard on the sprints!

      There is a very modest hill, maybe 500m long, but nothing remotely sandy: it’s nearly all pavement and cobblestones where I live (central Paris), and even the park trails are gravel and dust. There are some nice tracks further afield, which is where I’d probably start when my surgeon gives me the all-clear for running, which probably will be months from now.

      In the meantime, I’m quite happy to focus on fixing my back issues and reinforcing the muscles around my overly-flexible joints.

      I just bought some rubber tips to put on my trekking poles, so I am looking forward to introduce nordic walking into my routine soon. For now I’m pretty happy that I could walk the 3km (with a trekking pole as backup) to my most recent physio appointment!


    • #19328

      As going up has less impact…and you are in a flatter area with concrete, asphalt, stone….Lydiard would get people in the Illinois area, especially in Chicago because of tall buildings, is run up the stairs. Now to get qucik turnover, running down with fast feet isn’t as good as being outside, but helps. In your case, taking an elevator down might be a good idea…..or ride handrails (ha ha). I was in Paris last year. The city is so big, I couldn’t figure out where the centre was. From the Eiffel Tower, downtown was off in the distance where the tall buildings are. We were staying in the older touristy area…..anyway…..working with you have is the mantra there……

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