Senior Ellie Wilson overcomes stress fractures and returns to cross country

Wilson battled stress fractures in each of her feet, while managing a gluten allergy she unknowingly possessed

October 12, 2015

As she passes pennant flags, family and friends, senior Ellie Wilson sprints to the end of the race in order to be Mill Valley's first finisher on Saturday Oct. 9 at Shawnee North Community Park. "I'd had season after season of something always hav[ing] to go wrong, so it was nice to have a season that went right," Wilson said. "And then for Cross Country it was just nice to be back running and knowing that my body could go that far."
By Sarah Morgan
As she passes pennant flags, family and friends, senior Ellie Wilson sprints to the end of the race in order to be Mill Valley’s first finisher on Saturday, Oct. 9, at Shawnee North Community Park. “I’d had season after season of something always [having] to go wrong, so it was nice to have a season that went right,” Wilson said. “And then, for cross country, it was just nice to be back running and knowing that my body could go that far.”

During her freshman year, senior cross country and track runner Ellie Wilson began experiencing pain in her feet during the cross country season. Her feet would begin to hurt at practice and fall asleep when she was running.

“I kind of assumed something was wrong, but I didn’t really care because I just wanted to finish the season,” Wilson said.

After an MRI, Wilson found out she had stress fractures in each of her feet, in addition to having exertional compartment syndrome, which causes her feet to fall asleep when running long distances. Her doctor instructed her to wear a boot on one foot, and on the other, less fractured foot, a tennis shoe. In her sophomore year, as she was still battling with the fractures, her doctor eventually told her she would have to give up running permanently.

“I remember feeling pure shock. From the first track meet I ran in seventh grade it was my dream to be a college athlete and I didn’t want that dream to be ruined,” Wilson said. “Running is like my escape, so I didn’t want to imagine not being able to do that.”

Track coach Bob Lewis was there since the beginning, and helped Wilson through the injury. Lewis was anxious for Wilson’s recovery, but knew the injury would take time and patience to heal.

“Anytime you have a stress fracture, you’re going to have to take time off, and that’s the key. [Taking time off] is where she gets frustrated because she can’t participate,” Lewis said. “As a coach, you would like to have your athlete back as soon as possible, but it’s a type of injury that you have to be patient.”

Later on, Wilson received news from her doctors that she was gluten intolerant, which made it difficult for her body to absorb nutrients that she would normally need to prevent or heal injuries.

From the first track meet I ran in seventh grade it was my dream to be a college athlete, and I didn’t want that dream to be ruined.””

— senior Ellie Wilson

Wilson took her junior year off cross country and played tennis instead in order to give her feet a rest from running. For the next three sports seasons, Wilson’s feet continued to have stress fractures in them which forced her to cut both her cross country and track seasons short and take months off at a time to rest her feet.

“I think it was tough because I knew running was one of the things I am better at,” Wilson said.

After resting her feet from cross country, Wilson’s feet finally improved when she changed her diet and started taking vitamins. She was able to participate in track in the spring of her junior year, and was overjoyed to have a successful season.

“It was just a sense of accomplishment and it was exciting,” Wilson said. “It was nice to have a season where things finally went right.”

Lewis thinks Wilson has done a successful job in working hard and letting her feet go through the healing process.

“I don’t think the doctors thought it was going to totally heal. They thought she was always going to have problems with it,” Lewis said. “She’s come along and she’s been doing great.”

Wilson is now back to running cross country, and she plans to run track during her senior year and in college.

“I learned that there are going to be obstacles in life and things aren’t always going to go smoothly,” Wilson said. “You have to react so you’re not emotionally bringing yourself down. You have to learn to be positive.”

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