Wednesday 2 October 2019

slow down...

Let's not make any bones about it: I've been lucky with my MS.

Sure, I have some problems: numbness, pins & needles, muscle weakness and wastage, spasms, bladder issues, fatigue... but when it comes right down to it, I've run 6 marathons since I was diagnosed in 2009 and I still go out running 5 or 6 times a week. In the grand scheme of things, my problems are small.

Just recently though, things have been getting a bit worse and are really starting to affect my running. I was warned years ago that this day might be coming: a consultant specialising in sports medicine told me nearly ten years ago that it probably wouldn't be my MS that stopped me running directly, but it would probably be something caused by my MS. This doctor was a runner too, and he'd recently had to stop running because of back surgery, so he was quick to spot how important running was to me and quick to realise how critical it was to keep me on the road. He understood. To be fair, he also said that I would probably never run more than 10km again, so he clearly didn't know everything.

Perhaps he was just a few years early with his prediction.

I've been steadily losing flexibility in my left ankle for a while now but it's become quite stiff over the last couple of months and the achilles is very tender; I've had stiffness and numbness in my legs almost since the very beginning, but it's now taking me a mile or two to shake it off and get into my running stride; the muscle loss in my left side has been apparent for a while now, but I'm now getting niggles across my core and on my right side as my body tried to compensate.

I ran four marathons between April 2018 and April 2019. I'm still running around 25 miles per week and have run just short of 1000 miles in the calendar year to date. It feels ridiculous to complain because I've sat in enough MS clinics to know what this disease can do and how lucky I've been.

... but still, it is upsetting. I was hoping to run another marathon in spring 2020, but at the moment, even a half marathon feels like a bit of a stretch goal. We're almost exactly 12 months since I ran a half marathon PB (at Tissington) and a marathon PB (at Chester) in successive weeks.  It feels so frustrating to find my mileage restricted by a failing body.

Still, although it's frustrating, I hope I'm wise enough to realise that slowing down a little isn't the end of the world (even if it might feel like it is). That doctor was right: running 10km slowly is a lot better than not running at all.


A runner just wants to run.

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