Lanni Marchant shares insight on how to be patient while recovering from an injury

One of Lanni Marchant’s goals is to spend a year without a trip to the operating room.

The 35-year-old Olympian and former Canadian women’s marathon record holder from London, Ont. has spent the last two Mays being operated on. In May 2017, she had surgery to remove an infected kidney stone, after which she became septic and spent eight days in hospital. The following May, she had hip surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Now she’s on the road to recovery and determined to avoid surgery in 2019.

Marchant is from London, Ont., but part of her recovery plan involves regular trips to Saskatoon, where is is working with sport physiotherapist Bruce Craven. Craven is helping her rehab her hip and together they are trying to undo compensation patterns Marchant had adopted over several years as her injured left hip lost power. Many of their sessions focus on running technique and strength training.

Marchant spoke with the Brainsport Times to share some of her running wisdom and stories with the city’s running community. This week she talks about what she has learned from being injured.

Marchant says that, without question, the biggest thing she’s had to work on in the last two years has been patience.

“Not necessarily just patience with the program and the process, but patience with myself and patience with others around who don’t necessarily understand how hard the last two years have been,” Marchant says.

“I have to forgive and understand that they don’t have understanding and, if something’s important to me, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s important to them. It doesn’t mean they don’t support me.”

A lot of being patient has simply involved working on a mindset of patience and forgiveness.

Over the last two years, Marchant has also allowed herself to be emotional when everything is going wrong. Before her injuries, she used to push all emotions away and try to ignore them. Eventually things would build up and “explode.” No more.

“It’s OK to admit you’re depressed … it’s OK to feel isolated and depressed and alone. You’re injured, it sucks, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to tell your body to do something that it just can’t or won’t do,” she says.

“You have to accept that there’s going to be bleak days and no, you don’t get to wallow in your own self pity, but someone told me recently it’s kind of like you put those bad feelings and emotions in a drawer and that you don’t shut the drawer.”

Instead of closing the door on a drawer-full of emotions and throwing away the key — something Marchant used to be skilled at — she’s getting better at acknowledging the emotions and allowing herself to feel them.

She’s also learning to tell people when she’s having a rough time and to ask for help when she needs it. After her hip surgery, she was living in a basement apartment and the only way she could get outside was with the assistance of her roommate, who was also an occasional sounding board.

“Old Lanni wouldn’t have dont that. Old Lanni would have just been like ‘No, you’re stronger than this, you’re not depressed.’ I would have self-talked my way through it without actually ever dealing with any of it,” she says.

Marchant hopes that tapping into her emotions will make her a better runner when she eventually lines up to race again.

“For me, running without emotion made me good in that I could push through and force my body to do things. But it also meant I didn’t have that next gear to push into, I didn’t have that really deep gut-wrenching-just-do-it thing,” she says.

“What I get to do with my body and the experiences I get to have here on out, I need to be emotionally attached to it. It’s not a weakness, it actually … it can be a huge strength.”

— Andrea Hill (Editor, Brainsport Times)