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After accident, Abbie Klinker is back to running — this time, for fun

So it turns out, getting hit by a car doesn’t always guarantee tuition.

The leaves were gold, the fall air was crisp and second-year athlete, Abbie Klinker, was riding her bike in the street — until she wasn’t.

When her eyes readjusted, she was on the ground, in the middle of the road, staring back at the silver bumper of a car. And all she could think was, “What just happened?” 

She had been hit.

Klinker, a Noblesville, Indiana local, is still very much in training as a runner, however, it’s no longer for Miami University varsity athletics. 

As most runners know, injury is common in cross country and track due to the consistent overuse of the body. Getting hit by a car on that fall day in 2017 didn’t help. She worsened her already-fractured tibia, sidelining her for an additional few weeks.

Klinker also dealt with an Achilles strain and a metatarsal fracture due to a mechanics issue and pronated pressure in her foot.

Unfortunately, her multiple injuries and depleting performance times began to pose a constant threat of being cut from the team. 

“I just wanted to be OK,” Klinker said.

But, throughout her recovery, Klinker stayed positive. Even as an elite runner, she viewed herself as a regular student. 

“I’ve always just been someone who runs, like I’m a runner, but it’s not all that I am,” Klinker said. 

Klinker is a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, The Center for Analytics and Data Science, and the leadership team for Athletes in Action, a student ministry. 

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Her identity as a Division I runner came from the idea that once people recognize you as an athlete, it ramps up the severity and the personal mindset. 

Her fastest time was a 26-minute six-kilometer run.

Klinker said her schedule never allowed her to fully recover, hence her multiple injuries. The cross country and track teams go months without a day off, and it takes a toll on all of the runners’ bodies, even those without prior injury. 

The varsity cross country and track teams set a mileage point that all of the runners have to hit per week. Klinker said that no matter how you felt, nothing was more important than hitting that mileage. 

When the coaches came to talk to Klinker about her injury situation, they talked a lot about budget cuts and how they needed to eliminate spots on the team, but that they were also willing to let her recover and come back again. 

Hurt at first, Klinker decided to leave at the end of the 2018 cross country season, but now, after a year, Klinker finally feels like  an established athlete again. She’s a member of the club running team, the Miami University Striders.

“This is where I was my freshman year, and it’s just a fact,” Klinker said. “Now, I’m not, and that’s OK too. It just is what it is,” Klinker said.

She has been running pain-free since March 2019.

“So often, we’re quick to put student athletes in a box,” she said, “But they’re just kids. We’re all just kids.”