My legs feel weird.
They often feel weird after I've been running and they definitely felt decidedly peculiar for a couple of days after the marathon in April. Seriously. You know how people sometimes say that when you run a marathon, you'll be going up and down stairs backwards or on your backside because of the pain? Yeah. That.
Well that kind of weird is normal.
Since my legs recovered from that kind of normal weird, they've been feeling a different kind of weird. The kind of weird that, when I start running, means that I can't really feel my legs at all. I know they're there, but I can't entirely feel how they feel. They're sort of dead. It doesn't stop me running, obviously... but it is decidedly disconcerting.
My symptoms started in 2005 when I woke up with a numb hand. That numbness spread around my body and, when it reached my thigh muscles, I thought I was going to have to stop running. When you can't feel your muscles properly, you feel really vulnerable and wonder if you're going to be able to adjust if you stumble or something, or if you'll just fall flat on your face or jar your leg so badly that it breaks or something. But you know, it's amazing how quickly something like that becomes your new normal, and after a while... I kind of got used to it. With relapsing-remitting MS, it's possible that the initial numbness just subsided. I tend to think that my brain just worked out how to ignore it and got on with the business of masochistically flogging my body into the ground. Business as usual.
Now my legs feel kinda weird again. Usually only for the first mile or so of a run, but it's quite off-putting. I've been trying to get back up somewhere near full speed at parkrun, and for the last couple of weeks, that first mile has felt all kinds of weird.
But, you know what? I can run through it. I can push through the weird and get back to trying to get somewhere near a parkrun PB. I'm getting faster again too.
If I ever want a dose of perspective, I think about that video of Kayla Montgomery collapsing over the finishing line of every single race she does and into the arms of her coach, who carries her off to get her legs iced so feeling can return as she cries for help. I've written about her before, but her story still resonates with me (she was diagnosed at the age of 14. I was 32. Can you even imagine what that must have felt like? As her coach says in that film:
“To beat it; to outrun it; to know you got every movement out of those legs while you still can. That’s why she’s running”
You can't beat MS and you can't outrun it, but that isn't about to stop me trying. Weird legs notwithstanding.
As Kayla herself has said:
“I still wanted to run because I didn’t want anybody to know what was wrong. I just wanted to keep going on with my life.”