Running is so popular at the moment as more and more people discover it’s fantastic for their state of mind as well as their physical fitness but, despite my immune suppressants, I can’t seem to catch the bug.
With only four weeks to go until my half-marathon attempt, I’m sorry to report that my training is going really badly. The furthest I have gone is four miles – not a great position to be in at this stage…
I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro and completed the London Triathlon but the Meadows Marathon in Edinburgh is up there with my biggest challenges to date.
I’m wary of sounding like a wee moan, or of playing the disabled card but it might help to point out why I’m finding it so difficult.
While I’m pretty determined and pushy, I can find every excuse in the book (and some new ones of my own) as to why I should delay getting out that door. To my credit, I have braved hailstones, black ice and horizontal winds to continue my training.
If I make it through the eight-minute pain barrier, I get into a rhythm and feel a bit more comfortable, but it’s a constant fight in my head not to stop.
Often I’ll subconsciously slow down to a walk (which probably isn’t much slower!) and get mad at myself. Running in the village where I live might be the answer as I’d be scared someone I know would catch me slacking off.
Here’s the real problem, though. Every time I have gone beyond two miles, I get sores on my leg stumps.
Mostly caused by friction, I get swellings on my knees where my prosthetics end. The only options are to stop completely (not helpful to training, and I am usually far from home!), or go through the rigmarole of trying to cushion them.
This involves removing my running blades, the many layers of socks and silicon, applying large dressings or blister packs and getting everything back on again.
I have to sit down for this and I’ve discovered that not many country roads have seats or benches. I had thought about putting plastic chairs out on my route but they’d be a bit of a blot on the landscape!
With rest, these sores will disappear and I have discovered chamois cream to help friction but I also have what I now know to be a “bursa”.
I first encountered these while training for my Kilimanjaro climb in 2018 and I now have one of those fluid-filled lumps on the exposed head of my fibula bone, just below my left knee. Common among lower-limb amputees, the calf muscles waste away through lack of use because they are not connected to any feet, exposing the bone. The bursa forms like a gel pack under the skin for protection.
I am very grateful to nature for this very clever process but in reality, what I have is a Brussels sprout-sized lump sticking out of my leg and it doesn’t want to be squeezed into a prosthetic leg socket.
So my situation is that I need to somehow run through the pain, nursing my big lump, without doing any lasting damage to my stumps, rendering me unable to walk, let alone run.
As always I have several members of Finding Your Feet helping me get through it. One of our “Troopers”, Brian, is doing the run with one leg and crutches.
So what am I whingeing about?
Me, climb a wall? Get a grip…
There was another first for my new hands at Edinburgh International Climbing Arena last week as I scaled the wall.
What an amazing buzz! Feeling my hands getting stronger is incredible. The progress makes the months spent in and out of hospital worthwhile and I’m more determined than ever.
The climbing club is a popular one. Kids love it, but it’s for the grown-ups as well.
Not long ago we had Cathy, who is 82, along to get involved. She hadn’t experienced anything like it, even before becoming an amputee. It’s wee things like this that make me extremely proud to have started Finding Your Feet and to see it grow. Cathy wants to go to the gym next!
A big day out for big hearts
We are regulars at The Kiltwalk. Our tartan army enjoy a great day out while helping improve the lives of amputees by raising vital funds.
The Glasgow walk takes place at the end of April but there are other events staged in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.
Last year, the atmosphere was amazing. We had the loudest cheerleaders who all agreed to take part this year. It’s so well organised and supported, with Sir Tom Hunter adding 50% to all charity fundraising.
It’s such a laugh, and I was lucky enough to be promoting the event with Sir Tom last week. So, if you have talked about taking part before but have never quite taken the plunge, then this is your year… Get your tartan looked out.