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Learning how to NOT run – a lesson for us all

This blog was written by Layne Lewis, President and Owner of Willowview Consulting.


BAM! I hit the ground. HARD. My horse dumped me and ran away. Was anything broken? No. Well maybe my pinkie on my left hand but that wouldn’t stop me from catching my horse would it? Whew, got him. Darned Mickey! Beautiful, 19 year old Arabian gelding whom I love dearly. We were riding in a 50 mile race that day back in September of 2021. I caught him and went on to tie for the win. Oddly, no pain for three days, and then WHAM. Pain. Like massive pain. So off to get x-rays I go. Nothing is broken -woohooo! Except we do see some very concerning things in your spine…L3-S1. Off to the orthopedic surgeon. Their suggestion?... try physical therapy. No help. On to get an MRI. Oh, oh-no, this is really bad, so bad you have to see the neurosurgeon. Bone scan came next and a CT scan after that. Turns out I have Osteoarthritis so bad that my spine is now unstable. UNSTABLE?!? Surgery is the next step. I now have 8 screws, two spinal cages, and two flexible PEEK rods to fuse L3/L4/L5/S1. Wow. Scary. Tough. Painful. Life will never be the same for sure.

There are so many lessons to take from this. Who knew that Mickey was saving my spine the day of that accident? I have worked very hard to recuperate from my surgery, to gain as much mobility and function that I can. It has not been an easy road to travel. What are my new limits? As a former athlete, how hard should I push? Will I be able to tell the difference between reasonable soreness from advancing and damage to my back? It has been scary to test the boundaries and try.

And yet everyone around me is so supportive! My husband, the surgeon and his staff, the physical therapists, the trainer I use to help me recover my mobility. “Sure you can run, just try a mile” said my physical therapist. So I thought I would put my body to the test. But I was too scared. Scared it would damage something, scared it would not be the same, scared because my body moving just feels different now. So instead I ran a quarter mile, and then walked. I did that 4 times over. That is a mile right? Goal accomplished! I got up to 3 miles but something was off. It was not feeling right. When I walk I feel better. When I swim and cycle – the same. Weight training, even better. But the running was wrong. I did not feel good. My back was tight, yelling at me to be careful. So I as a life-long runner I made the tough decision to listen to what my body was telling me instead of pushing through.

I went through the rounds of follow-up x-rays and back to my neurosurgeon for my 3 month check up. “Everyone has to give up running sometime. Use the elliptical." Is what he said to me. But he didn’t realize that I run OUTSIDE. I run with my dogs. My horses. My best Friend. Running is part of who I AM. How do I stop? “It isn’t worth the risk” he said. What does he know?? Oh wait, I guess he knows a LOT, being the neurosurgeon and all. He has done this a million times, I have done this once. I should probably listen. And so I did. I have only run a few steps since that day. I WALKED the turkey trot 5k on Thanksgiving Day. Which is an amazing accomplishment for me. I WALK my dogs with my BFF. She hasn’t dropped me for someone faster, yet. But our routines have definitely changed.

Now I am learning how to NOT run. And it is hard for me some days. But isn’t that life? We have to learn how to listen, and be grateful for what we have, not sad for what we have lost. I can move! Mickey saved me from the arthritis that unbeknownst to me, was destroying much of my nerve pathways. Mickey brought light the situation BEFORE I had permanent nerve damage. I am ABLE to walk with my dogs. I am ABLE to swim, cycle and weight train. I even use the elliptical some days! I am still waiting to see how horse riding goes, but for now I am just happy that I HAVE a glass, forget half empty or half full! And love to Mickey for saving me.

Get out there and move friends because you CAN!

Gratefully yours,


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Dec 21, 2022

I feel you completely. Not being able to do what you love is not fair I know. Nonetheless, I am grateful.

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