What if you were told you could no longer do the thing you loved most?
Todd Williams of Colorado was informed he could no longer run after sustaining serious injuries. He shares how getting the ElliptiGO 11R gave him that runner’s high again.
To say my ElliptiGO is a life changer is an understatement. I’m 51 now and have been both a cyclist and a distance runner for as long as I can remember. I like the combo; each provides something wildly different the other doesn’t offer.
I raced both mountain and road bikes over the years, but with running, my tastes turned to distance. “Ultras” became my thing. The mix of pushing myself combined with the solitude was unique. I can’t explain it very well, but running was something that kept me grounded, gave me time to think, process life… and stay in the best shape possible. The 10+ hours I spent running the Leadville Silver Rush 50-miler was one of the best days of my life.
Unfortunately, years of ultras took their toll on one of my hips, then I finished things off by wrapping a dirt bike around a tree on an epic-up-to-that-point motorcycle ride with good friends. I managed to shatter my left foot, break a bunch of ribs, fracture my shoulder and finish off my hip all in one GoPro-worthy moment.
Everything healed great…except for the hip which required titanium intervention. I was fine with getting a total hip – after all, it would get me back to running pain-free, so bring it! But you could have heard a pin drop when I was told by the surgeon, “The only thing I’ll ask you to stop post-surgery, is running, but everything else such as blah, blah, blah, blah…” I can’t tell you what he listed out there because my heart and soul crashed unfathomably hard over the news I couldn’t run anymore.
I played the, “But what if…” game appointment after appointment. Damn near close to saying, “But what if I run with down pillows strapped to my shoes… strapped to my Hokas, no less! That’s like no-impact, right???” But the no-more-running message came through all-too-loud and painfully-clear.
The total hip replacement surgery went fine, as did the rehab and soon I was back to cycling… and cycling long distances, too. But no matter how much I tried to kid myself, I freaking missed running. The movement, the exploration of route (I used to call running “sightseeing on bendy legs”), the mental side of it… I can’t explain it, but not running was killing me.
I had tried a few running-style no-impact ellipticals in gyms, and was ready to buy one for my basement… but it felt like the worst compromise ever, as so much of the joy of running to me was the actual exploration and distance travelled. Five hours of running outside? Awesome. One hour of running in the basement? My personal hell.
I Googled something to the effect of “can’t run anymore losing mind”
I ordered an 11R and hoped for the best. I can still remember pulling it out of the box and doing the (little) assembly required. I thought, “How in the world does one not fall on their ass riding this thing?” I told my wife I’d be back shortly, and as my 11 and 13 year old boys watched, I got on and took off down the street.
For something that seemed completely foreign to anything I’d ever been on, I was instantly comfortable; it was as though I was “returning” to something familiar, rather than embarking on something new. My “I’ll be right back” inaugural ride turned into a 24-mile inaugural “run,” I kid you not. I was instantly hooked… “hooked” is too review-ish… I was instantly addicted. I came home with the biggest, couldn’t-hide-it-if-I-tried smile on my face. I was babbling about something I had yet to understand, but I can say this now… the ElliptiGO commuted my life-sentence of “no running.”
In the next two months, I put over 1,000 miles on it. I’ve ridden… no, I’ve RUN all over Denver. I run up Lookout Mountain (and pass some road riders on the way) and descend with passion (according to Strava, I’ve hit 43mph descending, and this thing is rock solid through it all). I run in the rain, I run during light snow and soon after the heavier snow melts. I run on pavement and dirt bike paths. Runners stop to talk to me, cyclists smile and ask about my “bike.” I’ve felt cars driving slowly behind me, only to turn my head and realize they’re filming me. It’s a conversation starter to be sure, but it’s my ear-to-ear grin that sells people.
For all intents and purposes, I’m running again and for so many of us runners, that means more than we can explain. Runners don’t “run,” per se…runners ARE runners. My ElliptiGO has helped me get back to who I am…and I couldn’t be more grateful.