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Mimi Anderson on injury frustration and plans for 2017

by editor
Friday 7th October 2016
 
 
Being injured is always a pretty gut-wrenching experience. But imagine being in the build-up to an epic adventure that you’ve been dreaming about and planning for years and suffering an injury that’s going to bring it all crashing down. This is the unfortunate situation that Mimi Anderson found herself in earlier this year. We talk to her about her injury, how she dealt with it and how she’s coming back stronger to attempt her next world record. 
 
1.  Mimi, I can imagine it’s been a really tough year for you. You spent the first half of the year training and preparing to run across America in September but instead you found yourself recovering from an operation on your knee. Can you tell us what happened? 
 
2016 has been one of my toughest years, I really hope 2017 is better! 
 
Training was going really well for the build up to running across America this September. I was getting in good mileage, consistency and feeling fantastic.  In May I was lucky enough to go to the States to recce the route I would be running.  We spent 2 weeks driving approx 300 miles each day, but what an amazing experience and something I’m very lucky to have been able to do as some of the route really was impossible in terms of trying to set a record.  Either the roads weren’t actually roads, there was no access or it went over private land, something that Guinness won’t allow me to do without permission. Also some of my planned route, although shorter, would take longer to run as we would have been going cross-country and without vehicle access over distances that would mean no support for a day or more!
 
I had a camera crew out with me and each day if they spotted a great location we would stop and they would film me running.  Each time I ran (no warm up - my fault) for the first couple of minutes there was a minor discomfort in my right leg which meant I was running with a slight limp, but the pain would eventually disappear and all was well.  However as the trip went on my right knee became more and more painful, my leg couldn’t straighten properly and the whole knee felt as though it was held in a brace. Pretty scary as up until that point in my running career I have had no serious issues with my knees.
 
 
2.  How long did you spend hoping that the injury would go away and what did it feel like to eventually make the decision that you were going to have to delay your record attempt?
 
After getting back in May I probably spent just over a month trying to find ways of making my leg better, but I couldn’t run more than 3 times a week and the longest run was 10 miles - that wasn’t going to get me across America.  
 
After speaking to my doctor and osteopath, who has been treating me for about 10 years, I had to make the decision to postpone.  My sponsors were amazing and backed me all the way.  I remember putting the post up on Facebook to say I was going to have to postpone the record attempt and crying as I wrote it.  Sounds pathetic now but this has been a dream of mine for years so to finally make the decision to postpone was heart wrenching. 
 
 
3.  What was your diagnosis, treatment and what is your current rehab regime? 
 
On returning home I took a week off from running to try and get the knee sorted but once I began running the pain was still there and over the next few weeks became unbearable to a point where even walking was painful.  An MRI scan revealed that I had a lateral horizontal torn meniscus on the right knee. Not what I wanted to hear. 
 
My first choice was to try and sort the knee out without surgery and after 6 weeks the pain had gone but I hadn’t been running, just cross training and strength work.  I chatted to my surgeon (who only did knees) about my options (for me really there was only one option) and made the tough decision to opt for surgery.  Having made the decision to have surgery the nurses had to do a pre-op screening on me - my blood pressure which is usually normal, was through the roof, three readings were taken and each one got worse - classic white coat syndrome! (over the next week I had 3 further readings at my doctor’s, all normal) 
 
The surgery went really well and I managed to walk out of the hospital (much to my husband’s surprise).  Over the next couple of weeks I was in a lot of pain, even sleeping was uncomfortable, but I felt a lot more positive as now I was on the road to recovery.  

Mimi leg

It was extremely frustrating coming out of the hospital clutching a booklet with 4 exercises I had to do 3-4 times per day, but no other information as to how I could get back into my running again.  Fortunately for me I was contacted by a surgeon who I had raced with in Sweden and he was a massive support in terms of advising me what I could or could not do - one of the absolute “DO NOT’S” was running until I had seen my surgeon at 6 weeks post surgery.

Three weeks post surgery I was able to go back to the gym where I could bike (no resistance), after a week I began on the cross trainer and increased the time I spent on each machine every other session.  I was also doing light strength and conditioning work to get the muscle back in my legs to help support the knees as well as long walks with the dog and walking in the pool.  
 
Every time I took my dog out for a walk in the forest the temptation to try a little run was massive but I had to remember what I wanted to achieve so just kept walking! 
 
Six weeks post surgery I went and saw the surgeon who was really pleased with how my knee had recovered and gave me the green light to start running again - very, very slowly.  Basically running and walking! 
 
4.  You are well known for being a really positive person. There must have been a point when this injury got you down. How did you stay positive during the difficult times and without being able to run? 
 
I like to think I’m a positive person, but I have to admit the last 12 weeks has been a real struggle.   I can’t remember the last time I felt this low and I have had to dig deep to find the motivation to stay positive.  I have been paddling like mad just to keep my headspace normal.  Luckily I have never suffered from depression, but this is the nearest I have ever got to it and it’s terrifying and not a nice place to be, either for me or my family. 
 
Running isn’t everything in life, it’s a part of my life (albeit a very important part) and I had to keep reminding myself of that.  My husband and family have been an amazing support and given me a kick up the backside if I start moaning too much! 
 
I had to treat it as though I was tapering.  I spring-cleaned all the cupboards in my house, painted windows, made curtains and spent more time with friends and family. Oh, and I could drink wine! (I had planned on giving up drinking on 21st July, the day after my birthday, until I had finished my big run).
 
When I felt really down I would always think of my goal to run across America to try and set a new female world record.  I have an image in my mind of me running across the George Washington Bridge, looking at the sky-line of New York and picturing my family, crew and friends waiting for me on the steps of the City Hall.  I know that when I get to the bridge I can get to the finish, record or not  - that helps me stay positive.
 

Mimi jungle
Mimi as we're all more used to see her

5.  Has the recent SKINS report into Rob Young’s attempt to run across America made you and your team take any additional measures to make sure that your data is beyond any doubt and your record attempt absolutely transparent?
 
I like to think that with my previous world records I have been as transparent as I could be.  For anyone attempting a record of any kind it needs to be as open and transparent as possible, providing as much proof and data as you can to prove without doubt that the record attempt is genuine.  My crew (including my husband) would walk away if I cheated. 
 
My aim was always to have 4 Suunto watches so I could provide all the relevant information.  However since the RY scandal I will be wearing two watches at a time so there is no doubt.  All my information will be uploaded to Strava each day by my crew (providing we have internet connection, but will be done at the earliest possible point).  
 
I will carry a GPS tracker with me (it will not be on the vehicle).  As well as allowing people to follow me on social media it will enable people to find me so they can come and join me for a run.  It is also something that Guinness World Records insist upon. 
 
My crew will keep a logbook.  This will have information such as:
  •             Time of day and location of where I began/stop/restart running
  •             Where we finish for the day
  •             Daily distances covered
  •             Cumulative mileage (daily) 
  •             When I have a pee
  •             What I eat
  •             Basically everything will go into this book.
As well as the logbook the crew will get as many witness statements as they can each day from people who see me running past (or staggering!).  They have to say what time they saw me, where and provide their address, phone number and name in case Guinness want to contact them for verification. 
 
Photos will be taken, video footage taken.  I will have a film crew with me and would love people to come and join me along the route. 
 
I would like to think we have everything covered but I’m very happy if people think I have missed something to let me know. 
 
 
6.  Lastly, what advice do you have for runners who find themselves injured? 
 
It’s tough, it’s horrid and extremely frustrating not being able to run.  We sit at home and watch everyone on social media post pictures of their latest race or another marvellous training runs and you just think “shit, why can’t I be running?”.
 
Listen to your body and take the advice of the professionals.  You might only be away from running for a few weeks, there are always alternatives to give you your fix!  Races will always be there, missing one really isn’t the end of the world but causing more damage to your body could possibly shorten your running career.  Be sensible, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, concentrate on yourself, get better and you will be running for longer. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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