May 25, 2016 Posted By: Mizuno USA

By Amy Begley

When runners can’t run because of an injury, many find other ways to stay connected to the sport they love. Volunteering and cheering on friends can be welcome distractions for those who can’t lace up themselves, which is exactly what Debbie Chensvold has been doing – until recently.


Debbie, a long-time Atlanta Track Club member and volunteer, had to make the difficult decision to get hip replacement surgery. While some patients can experience depression post-surgery, Debbie consciously made an effort to stay involved in the running community. Instead of being down about her current situation, she asked if she could help with one of the Club’s training programs which prepares women for a 5K. This was a perfect role for her, since she was already well known by participants of last fall’s full and half marathon training program for sitting outside for hours, ringing a cowbell and cheering for the runners and walkers.

As time went on, Debbie was able to do more and more for the women of the training program, encouraging them and helping them from the sidelines. She also volunteered at another race, staying on her feet as long as her hip would allow her.

Debbie’s positive energy and enthusiasm impacted everyone around her, and her dedication as she continued her recovery served as an inspiration to the women in the training program. At the end of the program, Debbie walked her first 5K since her surgery. She didn’t do it alone – a large group of her friends joined her. They even wore an additional bib, dubbing themselves “Debbie’s HIPsters”. Finally she was the one being cheered on by others!


While Debbie credits volunteering as a way to get back into a normal routine, her recovery process wasn’t complete until she returned to the race course. I can’t wait to see what she does next!


Begley_AmyAmy Begley is the head coach of Atlanta Track Club, the second largest running organization in the United States. She competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in the 10,000M and placed sixth in the 2009 IAAF World Championships in the same distance with a personal best 31:13, making her the eighth-fastest American woman in history. Her 5,000M personal best is 14:56. Begley finished her professional career with six national titles.


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