Shalane Flanagan went for her first post-surgery run–12 minutes of run-walking on an anti-gravity treadmill

It’s been four months since 2017 NYC Marathon winner and 2018 third-place finisher Shalane Flanagan had surgery to repair her severely damaged right patellar tendon, and yesterday she happily posted a photo of her first post-surgery run–on a Woodway Boost anti-gravity treadmill–on Instagram.

“I still know how to run!” Flanagan posted. She reports that she ran two-and-ones (two minutes running, one minute walking) for 12 “bliss-filled” minutes at 70 to 77 per cent of her bodyweight. “I was soooooooo excited for today that I actually laid out my running clothes last night (just like I would do before the first day of school when I was a kid).”

Flanagan’s surgery was a patellar tendon allograft and chondroplasty, meaning tissue from a recently deceased person (actually from the hamstring of a 21-year-old) was used to repair her patellar tendon, which was then anchored to her tibia with three screws.

The tissue donor’s family was willing to have her know their identity, and Flanagan reached out to thank them with a personal letter. “I’m moved beyond words knowing what a gift I’ve been given,” she posted.

Anti-gravity treadmills are commonly used to aid in athlete rehabilitation. Air pressure technology allows the athlete to reduce impact while running, and they can transition gradually to supporting their full body weight. According to her posts, Flanagan has been walking and doing strengthening workouts in the gym for some time. Looks like it’s too soon to say when we might see her back on the racing circuit.

In 2017 Flanagan became the first American woman to win the TCS New York City Marathon in 40 years. In 2018 she finished third behind Mary Keitany and Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya.

Runners of all varieties can draw some lessons from Flanagan’s experience: one, don’t take your ability to run for granted. Two, don’t give in to discouragement if you’re injured and can’t run. 

posted Wednesday August 14th
by Anne Francis