Nikki Scott, 36, knows intimately what it means to return to running after a life-altering event. This Canadian mother runner of two boys—Marcus, 4, and Riley, 3—had spinal surgery nine years ago after the truck she was riding in flipped off the highway and rolled down an embankment. “I was told I would heal but would be in so much pain that I’d never be active or able to run again,” recalls Nikki, of White Rock, BC. Not only did she recover, this BAMR has tackled numerous races—even ultra marathons—throughout the past several years.
Best recent run: A few weeks ago my 4-year-old son came with me for his first real run. It was neat to see him so excited about coming along and it meant the world to have him look up at me and tell me how much fun he was having. It’s really cool to see my kids loving the things that are meaningful to me.
Running as recovery: Nine years ago we were heading out on a ski trip when we hit a patch of black ice and our truck flipped off the highway and rolled down an embankment. I crushed part of my spine, broke nearly all of my ribs and one collarbone, dislocated my sternum and collapsed both of my lungs. I was lucky to not be paralyzed but needed surgery to put my spine back together with titanium rods and screws … My recovery was long and slow and I had never worked so hard at anything in my entire life. About two years into my recovery, I needed to find something to help get my confidence back. With my doctor’s support I joined a running clinic, though I was unsure how far I would get. I cried after every run and was so slow I was always the last one to finish each run. I started my blog Slow is the New Fast to help stay motivated and slowly my running improved. Getting into running shape was making my back pain easier to manage and I was feeling better than I ever had since getting hurt.
Just keep moving: In May 2008 I finished my first half-marathon and have now gone on to run over 20 more, as well as five full marathons and three ultra marathons. Running is what keeps me in shape and keeps me grounded since having a family. My doctors put me back together but it was running that saved my life.
Favorite recipe from my blog: Definitely the fish tacos! I’ve always had a thing for fish tacos and on a recent trip to Hawaii we tasted the best ones yet! Just had to try and replicate them and they turned out pretty good! They are so delicious, but I don’t feel as guilty about them as some of my other favorite indulgences!
How I fuel for a (very) long run: It took me a long time to figure out what works best for me and long runs. My breakfast is always peanut butter (PB&J or on toast) with some yogurt and raisins and a piece of fruit closer to the run. During my long runs I hydrate with Skratch (orange flavor, yum!) and ProBar bolt energy chews – I’ve tried every brand out there but these two natural choices are my favorites. For ultras, I will add in more whole foods and of course, a few treats like licorice. After the run, I always recover with chocolate milk and something like a banana.
Half-marathon or ultra marathon: It’s hard to pick! I love the half distance because it’s still a challenge in many ways but one I can still push hard at and chase a few time goals. But I love the ultra marathon because of the pure accomplishment of finishing something that was so crazy at one time in my life. The ultra is kind of culmination of everything I’ve worked through in the last nine years and it’s just as sweet each time I finish one.
Secret indulgences: This one’s easy – potato chips and fries! (I always pack potato chips in my finish line bags actually!)
Perfect running temperature/weather conditions: Cooler, cloudier days are the best physical conditions for races and long runs but there is nothing like a good run on a bright, sunny day to make you feel good.
Run with friends or run solo: When I first started running, the group runs were what kept me motivated. Six years later, I love getting lost in my thoughts on a long solo training run but I find a good portion of my social time these days is on group runs and I love it.
How I handle hitting the wall: For me, running is just as much about mental strength as it is about physical strength. When I start to hit the wall I try to harness that mental strength by catching my breath, getting focus and distracting myself. Rhythmic breathing and a great song can do wonders to get me out of a funk.
If I could run anywhere, it would be …: Locally. We recently moved and I love exploring my community on foot. I’m also lucky to live close enoughto the infamous North Shore that I can get out and explore the trails now and then. Vancouver has some truly amazing places to run.
What I thought about during today’s run: How nice it is to run without goals for a change. I’ve just finished a few big races and it’s always nice to just run for fun while I’m recovering.
My running, in three words: Saved my life.