I'm worried about my legs.
It's not usually my policy to moan about my health here, but I'm concerned that the recent problems I've been having with my legs might be something that I'm just going to have to learn to live with. This is my ability to run we're talking about here, people. CODE RED!
I've whinged about this already (here, here and here), so I'll try not to go on about it too much. The thing is.... I feel like I've been lucky with my MS so far. Sure, I've got some challenges... but in spite of all that, I've been able to keep up with my running. More than that: since I was diagnosed in 2009, I've joined a running club and actually massively increased my mileage. Not only have I made lots of friends doing this, but although it might sound ridiculous, I don't think I would even have thought of running a marathon before my diagnosis, never mind running two and raising £22,000 for the MS Trust.
MS has taken some things from me, but I honestly think that it has made me a better, kinder person; it's also revealed my stubborn, determined side. I'm less angry at the world now than I used to be, but I'm also merciless with myself and refuse to make any excuses for not getting out for a run, no matter how I'm feeling and no matter what the weather might be doing.
Much of my sense of self is bound up in my running. I might have an incurable neurological condition, but as long as I've been able to run, I've been able to feel like I have some control. No one needs to tell me what MS could do to me... trust me: I know. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. There's no point worrying about things you can't control.
...or so I thought.
Now, suddenly my legs feel stiff and weird and I'm worried about falling over when I run. How quickly things change. Look on my works ye mighty and despair! I've scuffed the foot on my weaker left side for a few years now, and falling over when running isn't a new thing... but I don't even remember tripping when I went down the other day; I was just upright one moment and then on the floor the next. I don't like the fact that I can't explain what happened as a simple trip. It's knocked my confidence and the fact that I just don't feel steady on my legs every time I run really isn't helping. As I was sitting wearing shorts as my scabs dried the other night, I noticed that my thighs are now visibly different in size. I measured them: my left quad is now 5cm smaller around than my right. It's noticeably weaker too. This isn't a surprise to me, but it is visible proof of the damage that MS is doing to my body.
Am I going to stop running? No, of course I'm not.
Am I worried about what's happening to me? Yes. I am. I'm worried that I'm just going to get slower and slower and that one of the things that is most important to me will slowly be taken away from me. I'd also be lying if I didn't tell you that I'm finding it a little frustrating that many of my friends are getting faster - through their own hard work and talent, I have to say - and I just seem to be running through treacle and getting slower.
But.... but... but.... why the self-pity? Am I not still running? What right do I have to be moaning?
I ran a little over 4 miles tonight at a shade over 8.33 minutes per mile. My legs felt wobbly and pretty rubbish throughout, but that's a perfectly acceptable pace and was much faster than I'd assumed I was moving. This comes on top of six miles on Sunday and 3 miles on Saturday. That's more than thirteen miles in the last three days. And a couple of weeks ago I completed a half marathon.
Maybe I should be focusing on what I can do rather than what I can't.
I didn't used to be this stoical either, you know. That's another thing I probably owe to MS.
3 days ago