I love running, from 5K’s to half marathons. I have been a devoted runner for 36 years supporting causes, fundraising and just for fun. I also love to bike ride, kayak, row, lead Aerobics classes, swim and hike. I have encouraged, coached and trained others to run and to love it too. Exercise is my time to regroup, rethink, redo and revive. I call running my moving meditation.
They Say You Don’t Realize What You’ve Got Until You Lose It
Just over two years ago, I lay in a hospital bed and looked down at my leg, bandaged from my foot to my thigh. I tried to remember what had happened that day. It was surreal.
At the time, my family had experienced a bike theft, as well as other disturbing events. My son and a friend were installing better fencing and motion detection lights. I had gone for a five-mile run and prepared myself to take my daughter out for some sprints. Instead, I walked into a glass door. I had done it before; I believe many of us do. This time, the glass was not safety or shatterproof. It turned into long blades similar to massive serrated daggers and tore through my lower right leg and parts of my arms. My son and my dear friend were there in moments, calming me, putting pressure on the lacerations, calling 911, and telling me that – no, I could not sprint with my daughter, and yes, I would need to go by ambulance.
The emergency room doctor told my son that I would not walk for at least a month. All the muscles in the front of my lower right leg had been cut to the bone, and I was lucky that the bone was intact. I lay there in the emergency room while they stitched my arms and wondered when I would wake up.
I did wake up and for the next two weeks I struggled with denial. During my follow-up appointments, the surgeon was amazed at my recuperation. Three weeks after the accident, I was walking without crutches or the walker and four weeks after the accident, I tried my first run.
I love the process of running: taking out my clothing, my socks, my shoes, my water, tying up my laces. The first mile is always about adjustments. An ache or pain here, getting your breathing in synch with your stride, relaxing your mind and feeling your feet on the ground. Then you hit a point, not every run, but the moment when you know today is going to be a good day, just because you ran.
No, I will never be the same and I will always have pain. We learn some tough lessons in life, but the biggest and most important for me has been the power of running, to recover and to never give up. I think of the many athletes who have suffered far worse than I did – losing limbs, head injuries, and more. Their stories inspire others to keep on trying and I hope that I am an inspiration.
Leslie Olsen has a Master’s degree in Health Policy. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Health Coach, Fitness Coaching Specialist, Licensed Massage Therapist, and she has worked in the field of fitness, health, and wellness for more than thirty years. Her current focus includes a senior population in the St. Petersburg, Florida area, catering to the needs of people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer recovery, joint replacements, other chronic conditions, as well as people who simply want to benefit from her devotion to aging gracefully.