Positive running story – Terry Chiplin

Terry is a Brit who now calls Estes Park, Colorado his home. He has been an endurance runner for nearly 35 years,  running 100 yards and 220 yards on the track back in his school days.  Terry and his wife Jacqueline came to Colorado in 2006 with the dream of setting up Active at Altitude, providing training camps at altitude for athletes of all abilities. Their first camp took place in 2007, and they now hold three women’s running camps, and two co-ed trail running camps each year, working with hundreds of athletes to help them achieve their untapped potential.
Active at altitude is also the Official Training Partner for Vacation Races, providing training programs for more than 3,300 runners for their series of half marathons in 2015.

Terry had a major fall in April 2103, at a very minor pace. This is Terry’s story of how the accident happened, and the lessons that he learned from his injury, and healing.

Terry runs on black Canyon trail, Estes Park, a year post fracture

A post in my Facebook newsfeed today reminded me again of how fragile we are. “Be thankful for today, because in one moment your entire life could change.” I know that feeling very well….on April 26 2013, I was feeling amazing. I was just finishing a run with a client who I had dropped off at Kind Coffee, and was heading back to my car so that I could circle back round and collect her. I run up to my car, and then started to walk across the car park. I went to plant my right foot on what I thought was water, and realized it was black ice as my foot slipped sideways and I went down hard, landing full body weight on my right hip. I clearly recall lying on the ground, in a world of pain, while also thinking, it’s ok, I’m just bruised, I can run this off….it felt really strange that I couldn’t get myself back up on my feet. Thankfully, two angels materialized, and I did get back on my feet. This was a good time to test out what damage I had done, so I went to put my weight on my right leg, and almost passed out from the pain. I then also realized that my right leg wasn’t quite at the “natural” angle that it normally lives at, and decided it was a good time to call 911.

Cutting a long story short, I was whisked off to Estes Park Medical Center, where x-rays showed that the impact on the ground had broken my right femur. Surgery, a night in hospital to monitor me and the marvelous folks at EPMC released back home the next day. The proud new owner of a walking frame, I settled into a very different way of life. One of the challenges I faced was the fear of a possible outcome for me – there was a chance that the blood supply to the head of the femur would not repair ok, and that necrosis could result, meaning a hip replacement, and then no running. It’s strange how fear can grip us, invade our mind, and conjure up all kinds of negativity. I found myself creating a whole new future for myself, where I could no longer run, coach, and be able to do all those things that I loved and that were the center of my life. This did not feel good. Of course this was all happening at the same time as I was in a ton of pain post surgery, very uncomfortable, and not able to do much for myself. I found myself seemingly powerless to stop this slide into a downward mental spiral.

On top of this I found I was beating myself up for falling in the first place…what a klutz! …and then an even bigger klutz! Then I would swing forward in my mind, and think about being able to be back running, and couldn’t wait for the day when I was given the all clear to run again. I found myself see-sawing between these two extremes every day, for several days. It was not a good time. Then I realized that this lack of focus, the inexorable lack of control I was experiencing in my mind, was all taking me away from the most important thing for me, healing. Healing doesn’t take place in the past, or the future, it takes place in the present. Allowing my attention to sway between the past and the future meant I was missing the opportunity to heal now.

Terry with a group of Kenyan athletes in Boulder, Co

Having made this discovery, every day became an opportunity to focus on the present, and to also be thankful for everything that I have. I took joy in being able to hike the trails I usually ran on. I met up with my local trail runners at weekends, and enjoyed time socializing with them before they took off on their run. I noticed places on the trails that I had not been aware of before, birds singing, the aromas as summer came rolling in – all of these things were natural medicine to me, I was in heaven!

I also decided to embark on something I had never done before, using the power of my mind to help my healing. I had used guided imagery to focus on my training or racing, and found that to be really powerful and effective, and had used it very successfully with client athletes. I had heard of imagery being used to good effect for healing, and was keen to embark on a program myself. Each day I would start with a guided visualization where I would literally imagine my femur stitching itself together, making new bone, and becoming a load bearing behemoth. It was fun to picture the cells working and healing taking place in my mind. As well as being fun, it was also a great opportunity to learn to focus my mind, and to realize that nothing else was as important as the healing that was taking place. I also used imagery to think about running again, so that I would be prepared once my body was ready to move forward. Instead of feeling that my mind was out of control, my mind instead was extremely focused on every level on living in the moment, and to be present, effective, and powerful!

It was around 15 weeks post trauma that I received the go ahead to start to run. A couple of weeks prior to that I had started easy pool running, mimicking the bio-mechanics of running without any impact. I had carefully prepared to be able to return to full mobility, and was delighted with how quickly I made progress, and the incredible joy I felt to be running once more. Now, three years later, healing is still a process that I work through every day. There are days when my body doesn’t function in the way that I expect. What keeps me engaged though is my ability to focus in the present, and to be grateful for all the gifts that I still have. I am alive, able to run, and enjoy the glorious mountain trails that fill my heart. Life is good, and the whole process has empowered me in a way that I had not expected.

Terry provides positive coaching sessions for clients, working with athletes to enable a positive focus on their status and goals. He can also create personalized guided imagery sessions for clients, delivered as an mp3 audio file that you can listen to on multiple devices.

activacuity provides a daily dose of positive guided imagery or visualization sessions. Find out what you can do when you make that mind-body connection – check out our subscription options here.