Putting Your Best Foot Forward

nicole-runningNicole DeRosa is another “Withum 300 Original” who has succeeded in her goal of running 300 miles or more every year since the program was launched in 2014. However, unlike many of the other stories our runners have shared, Nicole’s obstacles haven’t been about making time or finding motivation, it’s been about her physical limitations. This month, Nicole tells us about how she’s overcome and worked around those issues:

Where do I even start? In a nutshell- I used to HATE running. Ever since my freshman year of high school, I’ve been an avid gym-goer. Exercising and staying in shape is part of my daily routine; it is my primary stress reliever. With that being said, for cardio I’d literally do everything BUT run.

As a high school varsity cheerleader, one of the requirements was that you had to be able to run an 8 minute mile. I’m 5’1″ on a good day, and running an 8 minute mile did not come easy for me; dancing and gymnastics, on the other hand did. My “8 minute mile struggle” was very real. Now I know a lot of you probably find this humorous, but that is really where my hatred for running first began. Anyhow, I made varsity cheerleading as a freshman and ran my 8 minute mile (yay!)

I remained active during high school and college but things took a serious turn when it was confirmed that I needed hip surgery, and one day would need two blown replacements. Of course I received multiple opinions, and tried everything possible first but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

My first surgery on my left hip was when I was still in graduate school; the recovery was about 8 months – it was horrible, BUT, this was when my hatred for running slowly turned into appreciation. Once I was finally able to bear weight and walk again, my physical therapist incorporated running into my regimen. After I graduated from physical therapy in 2008, I was easily in the best shape of my life AND running every couple of days because it really helped with my hip and kept things loose.

Eventually I hit a speed bump a year later; my right hip was already shot and I knew from prior MRIs there was an issue – surgery on my right hip was inevitable. Here we go again, I knew the drill. Recovery on my right hip was 7 months.

My last surgery was in 2009 and I refuse to let my hip problems get the best of me. I’ve been running consistently ever since my last surgery to keep the pain to a tolerable limit and teaching Zumba once a week starting in 2011. I know my limits, it’s a very fine line. The first year of the Withum 300, never in a million years did I think I’d be able to reach 300 miles; I logged 350 miles. Last year, I set a goal to run 400 miles; I ran 402 miles.

This year, I set a goal to run 450 miles; unfortunately I’m nicole-x-raynot going to hit my goal and will end the year around 365 miles. This past February, it was confirmed that I had re-injured my right hip and surgery was the only option to fix it- otherwise, I could suck it up and do physical therapy/exercises to minimize pain. Since I’ll eventually need two replacements anyways, I stuck to the physical therapy route which put me back a solid 2.5 months for running. Most days, I feel completely fine- and I attribute that to staying active and listening to my body.

I’m not looking at this as a failure; I did what I could and put my best foot forward, literally. The fact of the matter is staying active and exercising is SO important for endless reasons. I grew to somehow enjoy running and am so glad that my company recognizes this- not only am I doing something good for myself, I’m also able to effortlessly contribute to our Staff Hardship Relief Fund. Double win!

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