Hillary Allen – A Comeback Story

 Hillary Allen, A Comeback Story

World class Ultra Runner Hillary Allen in 2017 was at the top her sport.
Hillary was competing in Norway’s Tromso Skyrace, a 57k running event
in highly technical alpine terrain. Hillary slipped and fell 150’. She was
badly broken with over fourteen broken bones and most detrimentally,
her feet. The horrible irony of damage to the things that had literally
defined her existence in sport. Hillary shares this comeback in a
recently released book titled Out And Back.
Hillary went into months and years of rehabilitation and training to try
and re-establish the potential of continuing in sport she found so much
joy in after being told the injuries would be career ending. Hillary told
me in our NZDFit- The NOZERODAYS Life Podcast interview, May of
2021, that she had clarity of perspective brought to her from a friend
and confidante who told her to “honor the process”.
When Hillary mentioned this, it resonated with me greatly. In my many
years of athletic endeavors as well as just life experiences, I’ve
encountered personal setbacks and have coached and guided others
through them. I thought that this description of honoring the process
was brilliantly simple and insightful.
The perspective of “honoring the process”, reveals not only the realism
of coping with the day-to-day steps in a comeback but it speaks to
embrace the journey. I’ve often stated that the challenge with focusing
on getting back to where you once were is an empty and limiting
mindset. If your setback is a physical one, you have probably been given
a recovery expectation set by your doctor. They often state the
anticipated recovery in some sense of time. Let’s say your doctor tells
you that you have an expected six to eight months of recovery from an
injury, we naturally frame that by thinking, “that’s how long it’s going
to take me to get back!”. Therein lies the problem from mindset
perspective I believe. If we are focused on “getting back to where we

were”, and you go through a six-to-eight-month recovery process that
consists of physical therapy, exercises, and other rehabilitative steps
and you are only focusing on getting back to where you were, you will
have missed all those lessons and experiences in the process.
Several years back I was sidelined due to an emergency illness that
required surgery and nearly took my life. After coming out of surgery I
was advised that I could not lift anything over eight pounds. Of course, I
immediately began to question the post-operative guidance and asked,
“why eight pounds?’. That was met by direct response from my surgeon
who immediately told me to stop. I yielded to the advice, but I took up
meditation and explored new breathing techniques all in order to serve
my NOZERODAYS mentality and need for physical activity.
Instead of focusing on where you were, start your comeback from
where you are going. Begin to envision what the outcome of your new
journey might yield. Explore what possibilities might come from the
new experiences. Embrace the struggle of the daily grind of rehab. Look
at other weaknesses that might be present that have gone unattended
because your only focus might have been time spent in the saddle. If
you can’t ride a bike but you can swim, explore that sport. Take a swim
lesson and master a new skill. Be an observer in the process. There is
plenty to gain from a comeback if we keep an open and positive
mindset. Honor the process.

-Sam Piccolotti


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