Ever had that dream where you’re running and running and running but not getting anywhere? I used to get that all the time, but now that dream has become my reality. Despite all the effort and energy I throw into it, I just can’t run but strangely in my dreams I now find myself running effortlessly, just running, running, running, running, running… it’s always a blow to wake up from that.
Oh to have that power in my legs again.
10 years ago almost to the day I set out on a journey that changed my life, or rather should have changed my life. I embarked on a cycle challenge across Egypt on behalf of The Meningitis Trust. Cycling was my passion and this trip served to make that passion stronger than ever. I came back with a new ambition – I was going to cycle The World. Little did I know that my body had other ideas and within just 2 years I found myself unable to cycle at all. My experience in Egypt has subsequently taken on a far greater significance and I treasure those memories of cycling full-pelt through the desert all the more; it was quite simply THE most exhilarating feeling in the world. At the time I was commuting to London for work and the sense of freedom I felt on my bike was a whole universe away from claustrophobic life in the city.
So, where do I find myself 10 years, 3 kids and an MS diagnosis later? Flippin’ desperate to get back in that gym, get back on that bike and get back into shape! Enter my personal trainer, whose services I have employed for 8 weeks to motivate and push me to my very limits and seriously kick some MS butt (or if you’re my mum reading this, to ease me gently back into shape post pregnancy). Apparently, however, my expectations are a tad bit high. In my head I can see myself running a marathon, rowing across the Atlantic, cycling through the desert and competing in strongman competitions. Turns out that doing all of that is very challenging when your legs are filled with lead and your eyes start to lose focus at the slightest sign of fatigue. It’s a good job I like a challenge. The reality, perhaps inevitably, is that I enter the gym looking perfectly ‘normal’ and after just the first exercise I find myself needing my crutch for support as I hobble across to the next piece of equipment. I have had offers of help from fellow gym members, and goodness knows what they must be thinking as I slowly but determinedly drag my legs over to the cycling machine, slowly lift up each foot with my hands to place them in the pedals and then proceed to rotate those pedals as if my life depends on it. My fitness plan suggests that I do 20 minutes of cycling 5 times a week, cue wriggly-mouthed emoji. As much as I try I just can’t manage it, my legs go from heavy to heavy & numb to complete dead weights. Anyone who knows me will know that I am infuriatingly stubborn and don’t like losing. And so, with my super determination firmly in place I am going to keep going; I simply will not let MS ‘win’ in my fight for fitness.
And what’s more, I fully intend to get back on a bike of some sort, be it electric, hand-pedalled, Harley-Davidson-style-motorised, whatever, I will be taking on another biking challenge in the future.
First published 25 October 2017