Rising Strong After Injury

The fall happened six obstacles from the finish line. Twelve long feet from the top of the wall to the hard ground below.

Her left leg took the brunt of the impact. Her tibia was broken. Her fibula cracked.

Run Like a Girl Ambassador Lisa Parr had been excited for the new challenge of running an obstacle couse with her team from the gym. Now the injury left her with a metal plate and five screws in her leg.

Doctors told her she’d need to stay off it for 12 weeks if she ever wanted to run again.

“I’m a really active person, so this was like going from 100 to zero,” says B.C.-based Parr, who’d started running about five year earlier and describes herself as a bit of a run junkie who adores the sport for its stress release, supportive community, and race bling. “It was tough. At the time, everyone was doing fun summer stuff and here I was sitting on the couch.”

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Parr turned her focus to making the best of the situation and took things one step at a time. She used her office chair to wheel around the main floor of her house. She went back to the gym three weeks after surgery to work on her strength. She borrowed a knee scooter from a friend and did a virtual 5k, going up and down the street in her neighbourhood. She journaled her thoughts and progress. She got motivation on Instagram from an ultra runner going through her own journey back from an injury. She stayed positive.

“I kept my eye on the goal of recovery. I could still have plans, they just looked a little different now. This was just a kink in the road,” she says.

Around the same time as she broke her leg, Parr found out she’d been accepted into a personal training program. And so she forged ahead, showing up for her classes on crutches, her fellow students offering to carry her books. Her recovery provided a heartfelt perspective on what she was learning in the classroom about the role of exercise in healing and fortifying the body.

“I was already in really good shape before the accident and the personal training program hit home on how important that was to my recovery,” she says. “At the same time, it underscored that it’s never too late to work on your health and wellness to both prevent injuries and overcome them.”

Parr completed a 5k run about four months post-injury, a Disneyland half marathon two years after that, and a full marathon a year later. She credits this steady progression with helping her come back strong and resilient.

She says she also benefited from being open to trying new things. When she couldn’t run, she introduced low-impact exercises like cycling and swimming. Her newfound enjoyment in these activities even led to her completing a sprint triathlon in 2019.

“Being driven, but also realistic and open-minded with my recovery gave me new goals and the inspiration to venture into new sports. I took swimming lessons with a bunch of little kids. I got myself a road bike and learned about cycling from my cycling friends. Doing the triathlon four years after my injury was really emotional. I’d never done anything like that before,” she says.

Today Parr has her own personal training company, Above Parr Fitness. Some of her clients are working through their own injuries, and she believes her lived experience allows her to connect with them on a deeper level because she truly knows and understands what it takes to successfully come out on the other side.

“I tell them how important it is to follow your plan and how so much of it is mindset,” says Parr. “And if your injury is preventing you from doing the sport you love, you can look at this as an opportunity to broaden your interests. You never know, it could open the door to discovering something fun, exciting, and really fulfilling.”

Recovering from an injury? Parr shares these 6 tips:

1. Don’t quit

2. Stay positive

3. Do the work

4. Be willing to adapt and try new things

5. Journal your thoughts (Fun fact: Parr’s published her own self-care journal!)

6. Lean on friends and community for support

Written By RLAG Ambassador - Connie Smart. 

Story from RLAG Ambassador - Lisa Parr.

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