Ex-McGill runner Mondor back on track after layoff

Ex-McGill runner Mondor back on track after layoff

Apr 27, 06 Track and Field (W)

By CP

MONTREAL (CP) -- Emilie Mondor's health deteriorated to the point this past winter where she wasn't just worried about racing again, but simply being able to walk when she grew old.

But Mondor says she's finally on the mend from a string of injuries that has kept the Canadian distance runner off the track for nearly two years, and she plans to lace on her spikes again this summer.

"I actually thought I might have to retire, but things are going better now," said Mondor. "It was unexpected and it is probably the most happy I've been."

Mondor, who turns 25 on Saturday, hasn't raced on the track since the 2004 Athens Olympics, run aground by one stress fracture after another. She says in January doctors diagnosed a chronic bone disorder - her body doesn't absorb calcium, so her bones are similar to someone with osteoporosis.

Mondor, the first Canadian woman to run under 15 minutes in the 5,000 metres, believes this condition explains why she suffered her first stress fracture when she was only 16, and why her bone density has been steadily dropping, hitting alarmingly low levels the past several months.

Mondor sat out last summer's track season, recovering from an ankle injury and a stress fracture in her sacrum, the triangular bone at the base of her spine. She appeared to bounce back this past fall, winning the North American 5-K championships. But looking back, it was too much too soon.

"I was still running 200 kilometres a week, with a density so low that doctors would suggest to old ladies not even to dance," Mondor said from her home in Mascouche, Que.

The doctors prescribed Forteo, a drug used to treat osteoporosis. But she wasn't hopeful it would work and considered calling quits on her running career.

"It was so depressing because I never thought I was done," said Mondor. "A month or two (of not running), I was just feeling like I really missed that world, and more than anything I missed the routine of the training, and the meets."

She had to pull out of last month's Commonwealth Games and the world cross-country championships, and reading the results was tough to stomach.

"I thought, man I could have medalled at Commonwealth Games. That was the most painful, it pushed me to really focus on my health, my recovery, I said to myself, 'Come on, pull yourself together, maybe it will work,"' she said.

Mondor said she's seen improvements over the last couple of months.

Where she once prided herself on her ferocious training schedule, a big believer in never taking a day off, she says she's coming around to the less-is-more philosophy.

"Last week I did my first track workout, and it felt great actually. I really had a lot of fun," said Mondor. "I'm my own coach right now, and I'm training less and I recover better. I have no choice, I have to listen to my body."

Mondor says she'll run her first race June 28 at McGill University, and then just run a few small local meets leading up to the Canadian championships in Ottawa in August.

"All my year right now will be building toward nationals," said Mondor. "There's no way I'm missing nationals this year. That's my only objective this year: win back my title in the 5,000."

With no Olympics or world championships this summer, Mondor picked the right time to take it easy.

"It's perfect timing to just do nationals, and not have to do a lot of track meets," said Mondor. "It would be a good objective for this year, kind of a transition."

Mondor won three Canadian outdoor 5,000-metre titles before sitting out last summer.