Two years post hip labral tear

A trip to the hospital today for two facet joint injections for a herniated disc in my back drove something home for me- I have not raced since 2013 nor completed a marathon since 2012. 

For me this was unthinkable in February 2013 when I felt in the shape of my life and was running 50 miles per week. Many days I ran at both 6am and 6pm, having to resist a third run on some occasions. I was well and truly addicted. The subsequent cold turkey was something only runners could understand.

When I tore my hip labrum during an interval session in that month I never once envisaged writing this post in Spring 2015! 

My operation was not scheduled until February 2014 and to be fair I was slow to accept how bad my hip was and had run on to August. Once MRI’d and eventually opened up, the docs found grade 3 degenerative arthritis in my hip. A hip replacement down the line is a certainty , thus no real reason not to run anymore.

With all the advice about cycling instead there was a cruel irony when I felt fairly severe back pain whilst cycling with a friend some six weeks after the hip op. When the symptoms kept recurring I bit the bullet and went for another MRI . The result was a herniated disc and this has kept me from hitting the road more than the hip!

Now, at last , after 28 months, a double back injection, hip injection , hip operation and lots of physiotherapy later, I may have turned a corner and be able to get back on the road… The new trainers are begging me 😎 


Finally but mist crucially, for anyone undergoing a hip arthroscopy – mine was successful, but take real care with your long term rehabilitation.

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Horror Show

The fourteenth months since the hip arthroscopy have been a horror show. About four weeks post op I was out one the bike and experienced backache on the same side of the operation. After months of the back injury relapsing an MRI scan revealed a slipped disc. 

The weakness in the right hip had contributed to the herniated disc whilst trying to train. A year on the slipped disc plagues me. I had hoped to complete a marathon in May but just as the training intensity was increasing the backache returned with a vengeance. Horror Show.

I know I’ll get back running in spite of the hip arthritis and slipped disc , but it’s been over two years since I first tore the cartilage of the hip. The op was a year later and now it’s nearly fourteen months post op. Horror show.

Spring is here and I am desperately hoping to have a good summer in prep for one more marathon in October. Fingers crossed 😳

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20 weeks post hip arthroscopy – slow recovery

So I fully expected to be back running at this stage (even if the surgeons didn’t) . I’ve been pushing hard on the bike and have put in the odd run. The runs have been very very short and very sparse and I’ve always suffered for this. My biggest enemy here is lack of patience. I was told the bone would only start to heal at 20weeks and would take two years to heal fully.

I miss the running properly and most of all I miss entering races. Whilst I enjoy cycling it’s not the same. Running really works the body more fully and there’s no better feeling than the “runners high” when you get into a fluid stride. For now, though, I have to put my efforts into the bike (although I might do the odd 5k parkrun 🙂 )

Lessons for anyone contemplating the hip arthroscopy. If your hip is beginning to go or looks like an op might be needed go for it ASAP . The sooner it’s done the sooner the recovery! It’s this recovery malarkey that is beginning to drive me barmy 😦

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Post op recovery wk15 – hip arthroscopy

My last post was 5 weeks post op and I was quite upbeat. Sadly recovery since that point has slowed dramatically. I’ve done three forest runs – just shy of 3 miles each time – and although I didn’t have a huge negative reaction things just weren’t a hundred percent.

As I want to be sensible about the recovery (and the doctor has advised against running) I resolved to leave it a few more weeks. So to the bike I turned.

Now I love getting out on the bike and it is recommended for rehabilitation purposes post hip arthroscopy…but I’m sure they didn’t mean 32miles over hills at 17mph average :-(. I did feel great, but when I got showered and ready for bed my under-used (now over-used) hip and lower back muscles contracted so much I thought I’d slipped a disk ! A few sore days later and I’m on the mend but it had served a warning against too much too soon.

So in a nutshell ; at week 5 I was eyeing a return at week 10 and hopeful of an October marathon. At week 7 I saw my surgeon and he explained that, given the amount of bone shaved, cartilage shaved and the grade 3 arthritis, I should count myself very lucky I’m not still in agony. He was also irritated by any talk of an October marathon. At week 12 I tried three runs and resolved to leave it a little longer and at week fifteen I overdid it on the bike. This recovery is going to take a lot more patience and mental toughness than I expected – just when the beautiful summer nights are here.

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Five weeks post op – hip arthroscopy

As I took some good advice and inspiration from other runners in the aftermath of this op I suppose I should return the favour to those who have had the same misfortune recently of being told “your running days are over” and “nothing will fix the hip apart from an operation – and even that won’t be enough!”

First, I have read posts from lots of runners returning to full sports after this operation and secondly, arthritis notwithstanding, by week ten post – op I hope to be putting the running shoes on & hitting the road again myself. All the signs are positive to date.

My advice to anyone getting this done is simple – active recovery.

1. Get in the gym (even on crutches) in the days immediately after the op. Do your hip joint exercises provided by the surgeon but also do some upper body weights so as you don’t necessarily feel that your injury is holding you back. I was doing 50-60 miles per wk prior to my labral tear; and close to that for many months with the injury, so doing weights over the past five weeks has been a great opportunity to work on areas I had neglected owing to lack of hours in the day. Stay active.

2. Get on the static bike by week 2/day 8 and do what you can. If it hurts or “clunks” then get off and leave it until week three. Keep the resistance low but do aim to increase it gradually. Again, you are not looking for pain so if there is any, stop.

3. Once the stitches come out, get in the pool. If you’re fortunate enough that your gym has a pool then I’d get in everyday. Take advice on your activities – no breast stroke. Aqua running is great for the muscle recovery with no impact on the injured / operated joint.

4. Get to physio twice per week. I was amazed how the physio was able to find knots and tight spots in my muscles that I never knew were there. Although extremely painful, the physio massaging these points out definitely helped keep the joint loose, aided strengthening exercises and ensured scar tissue didn’t form in clusters.

5. Finally, you know all those stretches we ignore during running season? Do them. It’s a great opportunity whilst unable to run to improve flexibility (flexible muscles are stronger), aid recovery and reduce risk of injury upon return to those bastard interval sessions. The stretches around the quads, hamstrings and hip are vital after this operation if you wish to return to sports and defy those who are telling you “it’s time to give up”.

Hope this helps.


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14days post op -hip arthroscopy

So it’s been two weeks since the operation and as I took a lot of heart in the pre-op stage from reading what others have had to say about their recovery I feel that I should share my post op experience.

Despite having an extremely negative surgeon who has told me to stop running I remain extremely positive. I got my stitches out today and the wounds are healing well. There’s still a fair amount of bruising and I can’t fully weight bear comfortably but I no longer have the bone on bone hip pain that I’ve had for the past twelve months.

I am convinced, in spite of the surgeon and grade 3 arthritis, that I will run and complete my October marathon. I’ve been on the static bike now twice with no hip reaction and I’ve been doing rehab exercises and plenty of upper body weights. I believe that an active recovery is vital. In the days I haven’t trained (weights& hip rehab exercises) I have been sore. Thankfully this has only been two days post op.

I should add, for the benefit of anyone waiting for this op, that I went into it active. I trained as best I could right up to the operation. I’ve learned over the years that the only way to deal with injury is to work around it. Note that I said “around” it. My days of working “through” most injuries are probably over and I’ve adopted a much more sensible approach.

I know that at some point in the future I shall require a hip replacement. It’s probably sooner than I’d hoped given the severity of arthritis but nonetheless this surgery, although it’s early days, has given me renewed hope of hitting the road for another fifteen to twenty years (to varying degrees ) . That bit of hope is all I need to get me through the remainder of my rehabilitation, after that I’ll take it one mile at a time 🙂

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Hip arthroscopy and running

So it’s been ages since my last blog. I was just into my 2,013 mile challenge in 2013 when I suffered a labral tear in my hip in February. Although I kept the challenge going up until August the prognosis from the Consultant was not good. The first consultant told me I had a cist, the hip was bone on bone, I had signs of degeneration and I also had arthritis. In summation he was telling me that, even if I had a hip arthroscopy operation, my running days were over. This was very hard to take given that I was running 50-60miles per wk. If one more person suggested “taking up swimming” I was going to strangle someone!

I then went to see a second consultant in April. He is a triathlete and has a better understanding of the overall picture. He referred me for an operation with a view to it fixing the hip as best as possible and giving me another 18-20yrs running. Such a difference!! I liked this assessment much more than the first and I duly signed on for the operation.

Now, in February 2014, a year after the initial injury I am sitting one week post-operation and looking forward to getting back on the road. Time will tell if I can do the Dublin Marathon in October or any future marathon but for me early signs are very positive. Although I’ve had no follow up consultation yet, the physio suggested the op went well and I have to admit it feels good. I’m still on crutches and still very tender but definitely don’t have the same ‘bone on bone’ pain I’ve had for past twelve months.

Looking forward to hitting the road in the coming months. For now, it’s a slow recovery process…Image

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Recovery runs the day after…

I blogged about the importance of these in the past and called them “piggy back” runs…So what about these ‘piggy-back’ runs?

This is something I would recommend every marathon trainer do (possibly not if it is your first marathon though, because it could cause injury).

The method is simple. I always got out a run the day after a long run. So if I did 23 miles on Saturday, I made sure I did 6-8miles on Sunday. I called these piggy-back runs because I was piggy backing on the previous run. In other words, the Sunday run, although short, replicated the tiredness, soreness and nutrition depletion of the Saturday run all over again – in essence I got two long run effects for the price of one!

I knew it was a dangerous strategy so you have to listen to your body with this one. I did ‘bomb’ a couple of times at the end of a 60mile week, but boy did it prepare me for the marathon! At no point during Monday’s marathon did I feel any real major fatigue. Try it out – even if you only do a two mile piggy back run. It teaches you to run well on tired legs!

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Great article for triathletes and runners…studies on the effect of cycling cadence on running speed…


Defintely one for the runners and traithletes out there…

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Pre-marathon day advice

Congratulations, after months of sacrifice, long runs and plenty of self doubt you have made it to the big day. In many ways the hard part is done. Getting through marathon training without injury is not easy. I’ve trained for eight marathons, got injured en route to three and have actually gone on to run six marathons and multiple half marathons between 2010-2012. Like you I’m simply an amateur, but here’s what I’ve learned about the day before and the day of the actual race…

1. Do relax the day before. If you really need to, run a very slow mile or two.
2. Don’t make the mistake of taking on too much water and too many carbs. Simply replace normal dietary needs with higher carb foods. You don’t need to binge on twice as much food as normal!
3. Remember water intake dilutes other things in your body such as salt – you are better supping on isotonic sports drinks for your fluid requirements.
4. Prep your gear early (dont forget the Vaseline ) and really do try to get to bed early even if you can’t sleep.

Race day:
1. Relax. You’ve a long run ahead, not a sprint. You have plenty of time to find your rhythm.
2. During the race run your own race, don’t get sucked in by others around you. Find a comfortable pace for you and don’t alter it.
3. No doubt you have a target. Don’t let it be your master on race day. It should have been your master during the months of training but now it is all about how your body feels on race day. Run on feel. Feel that you’re working but comfortably working. If you feel discomfort in miles 1-10 then peel it back a bit.
4. Break the race down and don’t neglect nutrition in the early stages just because you feel ok. I tend to think in groups of four miles. I try not to review how I’m performing until after each four miles. This works for me as I take on 500ml of isotonic fluid every 8miles.
5. Don’t let a “bad” mile affect you. You’ll have good miles and bad miles. Accept that now and it’ll maintain your mental stability. This is VERY important. This is another reason to break the run into segments.
6. Enjoy it. You’re doing something great and whether you hit your target time or not you should be immensely proud.

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