Broken to Healthy: How Ultrarunner Connor Meakin Overcame Years of Injury

Recovering from injuries is challenging enough when they keep you away from running for days or weeks. But injuries that linger for years with no end in sight require a special type of perspective and perseverance.

This week’s podcast guest received the kind of news you hope never to receive from a doctor – that you might never run again. 

Connor Meakin had been an elite athlete long before he took up ultrarunning. He was a member of the Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team for four years before he jumped into the world of endurance running.  After completing a road marathon, he quickly discovered his love for the mountains and trails and seemed to have found his calling, winning multiple races in 2014.  

What began as a bad ankle sprain on a long trail run in 2014 quickly devolved into a much more serious injury. Like many of us who try to push through injury, Connor tried to continue running and racing.  Then the injury worsened and created new issues with his foot.

After seeking medical attention, a seasoned radiologist told Connor he had one of the worst injuries he had ever seen. The doctor recommended he take up cycling and told him that he might never run again, especially in any sort of competitive fashion.

In the face of this grim news, most athletes would give up hope. And for a while, Connor did too. He stayed away from the sport entirely as it was too painful to be around something he loved but couldn’t participate in.

But after 4 years and against the odds, Connor was able to make a return to running.  Finally healthy again, he seemed to jump back in where he left off, winning a 50k in 2019.  His recovery was a lengthy mental and physical process and went through many of the typical stages we associate with grieving: denial, anger, depression, and eventually, acceptance.

Connor Meakin on Long-Term Injury Recovery

When Connor began to try to heal from his injury, he saw multiple doctors, got second and third opinions, and tried a variety of therapies. Some may have exacerbated the problem, while others seemed to provide greater benefits. Inspired by his research and early stages of recovery, he founded BlueBird Provisions Bone Broth as an outlet for his energy. 

Some of the strategies that didn’t work are those you might expect, even though we’ve all tried them: ignoring the injury, running through pain, and trying anything and everything in desperation.

In this episode, Connor Meakin discusses a number of the strategies that did contribute to his recovery, including

  • Facing the reality of the severity of his injury
  • Finally resting
  • Cross-training 
  • Gait retraining
  • Digging into scientific research on rehabilitating injuries
  • Physical therapy

Whether you’re struggling physically or mentally with an injury, or just trying to avoid them altogether, you’ll find something in Connor’s journey that you can relate to.

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