Less than 24-hours to go before I get to the start line of the Brussels Half-Marathon. Yippee! This is the second year a team from EMSP will take part, raising awareness about living with multiple sclerosis (you can read more about the origins here). Like all good things, the spark was lit over a a delicious lunch in the City of Creative Chat, Dublin!
I’m optimistic about the weather- it is a fresh morning in Brussels, bright and sunny with not much change due for tomorrow. My body and mind are ready: I started slowly this year, easing my endurance and building up many, many miles on many trails/streets. I’ve brought my gear with me wherever I travelled (Brussels, Elche, Galway, Tipperary) followed the advice of many experts (John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield’s, ‘Marathon Running for Mortals‘, Stuart Mittleman’s ‘Slow Burn’). Food has been hugely important; I’ve been eating as much vegetables as possible, nuts, fish, fruit and we even started juicing in my house to get extra nutrients in. When away I even got a bright pink t-shirt that, absurdly, gives me a great sense of joy. I ran with brilliant, supportive people last year in Brussels, with thousands of others during the Samsung Night Run in Dublin last April and later this month I’m going to do the Dublin City Marathon for first time and I can’t wait!!! To top it all off, I’m getting out into the elements (rain, hot sun), into nature and wherever I am, there’s a sense of freedom that nothing else gives me.
But something has also happened that has scared me. It’s called ‘foot-drop’ and it is a bad-ass, nasty symptom of MS. Essentially, because of nerve damage, some of the muscles in my leg are weaker, not responding as well as they should (peroneal muscle weakness). When I run, my core body temperature increases, again affecting the nerves. All this causes a drag in my toes/foot which in turn has caused me to trip and tumble many times. All the training I’m doing has not caused this symptom, I checked with my neurologist and researched…lots. However, the extra training has me asking for more from my body, it is stressing it more than if I wasn’t running.
I was afraid, hiding from the changes that had me falling on my face. Thankfully, I now ‘see it’; I’ve named it and I can now deal with it. I recognise the symptoms, respected my body and now there is a plan, created by my physiotherapist. It depends on my commitment to myself and the choice to strengthen the muscles. It involves using a stretchy band, repeated exercises and funny stretches. It doesn’t mean the foot-drop will go away, but it does mean I am working on and with muscles that need attention. Someone has said I should stop running, stop trying to do too much – I have nothing to prove. But I love to run, it gives me a sense of enormous well being.
I’m optimistic about the weather and that everything will work out. But I am confident that I’ve done the work, enjoyed my body and tomorrow over the course of the 13miles/18km, I’ll relish the buzz that comes from doing something I love.
What do you do for that sense of freedom? Are you a runner? how do you manage your challenges? If you have some money to spare and want to support the Run for MS team/EMSP activities, please go here: http://www.ulule.com/run-for-ms/
© Emma Rogan 2014
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