After the London triathlon in 2008, I decided that 2009 would be my year. My year to do an Olympic distance triathlon. My year to start to run. My year to conduct a little physical experiment to see just how concentrated exercise, fitness and nutrition could influence my nerve disease (or not). And my year to see how I could get the balance right between work, life and training…
Well, then the usual thing happened. Life threw up a couple of challenges, distractions happened, and excuses started to roll in. First it was the financial crisis. It hit rather close to home, and for about 2 months it was complete chaos on the personal front, with a lot of time spent thinking through possible outcomes and making plans and attempting to get on top of the household stuff in case the worst case scenarios transpired. Then it was the relentless work travel. In the last half of ’08 I had some of the craziest work travel I have ever had, including one stretch which saw me in Houston, DC, Beijing and Madrid – back to back and all at once. Then it was the holiday season, with all the parties, preparations and festivities knocking training right down the agenda. Finally, there was the one time I decided to try running, and you know what. It hurt. One excuse after another presented itself, and I all too willingly accepted the chance to have an excuse.
I don’t quite know when I decided to leave the excuses behind this year, and to just get on with things. Perhaps it was when I stood on the scale at the gym and the weight registered 10kg higher than it did only two months before (ok, since that heart-attack inducing scare I have concluded that it was not down to me, but still…) Perhaps it was in early April when my husband ushered me onto the cross-trainers when we were on holiday, so I could “work the fatigue out of my system”. Maybe it was when I resumed my usual spring training for the triathlon and realised how much I had missed my regular sessions at the gym. Or maybe it was when I twisted my knee in early May and had a sudden realisation that no matter what I had planned, an Olympic distance triathlon was not going to happen this year.
And then about a week ago, I finally lost all reason for excuses. I am lucky. Although I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Type 1A, which is a degenerative sensory and motor nerve disease, I am a patient of the Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases in London which is a key research centre for neurological conditions worldwide. As a patient, I am able to participate in research projects, and one in particular had opened up – a 10-month experiment into the impacts of strength training of hip flexors for people with CMT1A (in particular looking at gait, speed and strength). I attended my first appointment, where all of my statistics were measured: strength, force, speed, sensation, you name it. I was talking with the researchers, and they both mentioned to me that they were keen runners.
I listened as they talked about doing a 10k to benefit the Centre, and rather timidly I asked:
“Is there any reason why I should not be able to run?”
They looked at me.
“No, no reason at all. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but there is no reason why you couldn’t train to run.”
That’s it. No more excuses. And as I have said so many times in my fundraising past, it is now just one step at a time to see just how much I can do…