• Derek Dutton


If I ever had a theme throughout life it would be: “BROKEN”. Injuries are debilitating, frustrating, and can be expensive. I loathe what “fruit” injuries generally produce. However, injuries can act as a well deserved or much needed break. In some cases injury is the only form of communication that a certain few can understand: I can’t do that because it hurts/broke. As a stubborn athlete I know this to be absolutely true.

My tenacity helps me achieve my goals and makes me a serious competitor no matter what sport. It does have its draw backs though and injury is usually my sign that my tenacity has gotten the best of me. I very nearly broke my back in an obstacle run in 2014, for NO reason, and I learned that day that I’m not smart enough for Obstacle Course Racing. I am reminded every day of that mistake: a thorn in my side.

2015 I wasn’t injured per-se, but the recovery after my 100 mile attempt was brutal and extensive. I learned, despite the small success I had, that 34-40 miles weekly is not enough to prepare for the rigors of a 100 mile race no matter how “tough” you may think you are. 

2016 was another brutal lesson learned. Evidently swimming 36 miles is also a challenge which you should NOT underestimate. My right rotator-cuff gave up on me 10 miles in and my left was nearly as destroyed by the time the EMT pulled me, unwillingly and ever so painfully, from the water just 4 miles from the finish. If losing the use of my arms wasn’t humiliating enough, not finishing a race I planned on winning, and the hypothermia and hot/cold flashes and fever that followed the night after the race was one of the most humbling events of my life. I do not think I could have sunk any lower that night. I was legitimately at rock bottom, and I hope I never revisit that place in life, again. It was humbling for sure, but I almost didn’t survive that transition. It was the first time I felt useless in the water, and I even remember telling myself that I would never swim again.

My recovery after this incident was not graceful either. I moved to Wyoming a few months after it all.  I lost all motivation in life in general, and I even lost the few sponsors that I had early that year to boot.

I had hoped for a fresh start when I moved into the mountains and sought solace in the solitude that only they afford, but I was disappointed again. I still struggled to find motivation to get back on my feet. Then just as I was finally coming around and embracing the phenomenal running resources at my finger tips: mountains and trails unceasing. I came crashing down again.

Literally, I fell down a mountain frantically searching for my son that was snowboarding for the first time and went down the wrong “run” his first trip down the mountain and subsequently separated from me.  My son was fine, but in my angst I made some terrible decisions and fell pretty hard and tore my meniscus in the process.

These last three seasons, back to back, have been tremendously difficult and disparaging to say the least. However, with pain and discomfort comes growth. I have grown tremendously from it all and my hunger for endurance remains. I am not certain what my future holds as an athlete, but I refuse to let a few challenges dilute my athletic potential.

Down time can be more productive to some than others. So, I implore you to make the most of yours, heaven forbid. Also, be open, willing, and receptive to growing while at the bottom of the abyss that is rehabilitation.

Most importantly, learn and be cognizant of your limitations. Above all, be realistic. This is an area I fail in miserably but it is imperative to your success and ability to manage a consistent training program.  Remember, train right, train smart, train forever.

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