When life hands you lemons, walk to the lemonade stand.

The story of a hardcore runner transitioning to walking after injury! 

My purpose in writing this column is to inspire you to increase your daily exercise/movement, to do a combination of: yoga, stretching, push-ups, strength development, bicycling, and/or walking to reap the hundreds of benefits of movement. Walking, I would argue, is the most basic and practical form of movement, but, it is so simple, it can be easily overlooked. I believe almost every American could benefit from walking more.  The average American walks 2,000 steps per day, while the average Amish farmer walks 14,000 to 16,000 steps per day. 

dr dennis godby

Dr. Godby running a half marathon in Davis.

An Enduring Runner

I begin with my own story so that you understand the passion from which I speak: a runner of 46 years logging approximately 60,000 miles. I am now a walker. 

Long distance running has been the most consistent activity of my life. Telling you that running has been a critically important part of my psyche since my teenage years would be a serious understatement. If one were to ask almost any naturopathic doctor (ND) in the country about what they knew about their colleague, Dennis Godby, they would mention my love of running and how I have used running to promote causes near and dear to my heart. 

Dr. Godby’s 3,000 mile campaign.

I must help you understand how strongly I have felt about running. Four years after ND graduation, in 2009, I started the movement/organization, The Run: Advancing Naturopathic Medicine in ALL 50 States, with the goal of using running to raise awareness of naturopathic medicine across the USA. I had previously run across the USA in 1984-1985 to protest United States policy in Central America. Just to emphasize my love of running, and exercise in general, in 1978 I was a dedicated exercise physiology and nutrition student. In order to promote these themes, I completed an unsupported, solo run from Corvallis, OR to Calgary, Canada, totaling 1,420 miles and averaging 39 miles a day. 

Why? I wanted to: 

  • make a bold statement
  • put my body on the line, make a difference in the world
  • challenge the limits of human endurance.  

Plans Change Unexpectedly

Dr. Godby and son Isaiah in 2019

One chilly evening, in October, 2018, everything changed! While running home from my Midtown Sacramento office, I began feeling knee pain about 4 miles into the run. I still had two miles left to reach my house and destination. I initially thought I would be able to run out the “stiffness,” since I had “never” had knee pain before. Nevertheless, the pain persisted and intensified. After another mile of running, I realized that my knee, for the first time, was actually injured. I had no choice but to walk home. An MRI revealed a tear of the lateral and medial menisci. I have run little since then. 

But this story isn’t about running, it’s about walking, adapting, being resilient. It’s about not making excuses, being determined, and setting an example for my patients. Attitude is everything so, while emotionally distraught about losing my beloved running, from literally, one mile to the next, I decided to “light a candle” (walk) rather than “cursing the darkness” (complain about running injury) in the most emphatic way possible.

Now, almost 2 years after the injury, one of my major health priorities of the day, besides eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, managing stress, etc., is how to fit in my daily steps with a mostly sedentary job and working long hours.  So I walk where I am, in my 10×10 office answering emails, talking on the telephone, watching the evening news or NBA basketball, brushing my teeth, planning my day, listening to virtual medical conferences, listening to educational videos, reading a book, texting, messaging, doing social media, walking to the store, etc. 

Don’t forget to check out part 2 to and explore my healing process and my path back to movement.

About Dr. Dennis Godby, ND, MA

As a naturopathic doctor, I have witnessed the power of a preventative lifestyle and naturopathic medicine to transform the health and lives of thousands of patients.

Dr. Godby works nationally to share extremely good news – how to prevent the preventable – and founded and co-directed The Run: Moving Natural Medicine Forward. He ran 3,000 miles across the USA, at a 30 mile per day clip, over 4 months, to promote a healthier America and to increase the visibility of naturopathic medicine (see www.TheRun.org). After talking to thousands of people across 16 states and Washington, DC, over 124 days on the highways and byways of America, Dr. Godby found that there is a virtual consensus across the USA that our nation is not preventing the preventable, that our very lifestyles are killing us, and that as a nation, we are overusing pharmaceutical drugs!