I miss being able to run.
I don’t mean that I miss going for a jog or running a marathon, or even a 5k – I was always more of a cyclist than a runner; any sort of long distance running usually ended up with me getting a stitch in my side, which I found more bothersome than fun. What I miss is being able to make a quick dash across the road, or an energetic run round a field with a ball, or a sprightly jog when I’m in a hurry, or short sprints along a street for no other reason than it makes me feel alive.
Yes, I miss being able to run.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment at which I realised I could no longer run. My guess would be that it was in the gym around the start of 2010. My daily workout included interval training on the treadmill (1 min sprint, 1 min walk, 1 min sprint etc) and as my MS started to rear its ugly head I found it progressively difficult to keep up with the sprints. My legs and feet felt so heavy that I kept stumbling on the fast moving belt. As my walking outside became increasingly compromised I began to notice that my legs no longer responded to my demands – where once I could leg it across the city in my work shoes to get home in time for The X Factor (true story), now I could barely drag my feet a few yards before needing to collapse.
Losing the ability to do something that used to be so effortless is a tough thing to get your head around. Sure, as you get older you expect to slow down a bit – to see an OAP out for a jog is a rare sight; though there are, of course, exceptions (Go, Dad!). But you don’t expect to be faced with the limitations of old age when you’re just 27. Just days after being diagnosed an incident occurred that was to be repeated many times over the next few denial-filled months. I stood in a deserted street and felt the urge to run. I willed my heavy, numb feet to lift up and performed a rather cumbrous jump – I say ‘jump’ but I’m not entirely convinced that my feet actually left the ground. I stumbled, staggered and fell awkwardly. It was, perhaps, the saddest moment in my life with MS so far. WHY couldn’t I run?! It was so maddening.
In fact, I was so perplexed by it that I kept giving it a go, convinced that if I just kept trying I would eventually succeed. It didn’t work and I stoically resigned myself to the likelihood that I would never run again and tried to put it out of my mind. After all, it felt like a big enough feat just to walk a few yards without falling flat on my face. I needed to embrace the things I COULD do. Swing across a decade and I still can’t run; and I still can’t fully accept it. Although I have pretty much abandoned my dream of running as I used to, the idea that I would surely be able to run if life depended on it has remained in the back of my mind.
Cue child number 3. A real livewire. The epitome of a wayward toddler. He literally runs circles around our house on a daily basis. And, of course, his love of running extends far beyond the safe confines of our house during nappy time. I doubt that there has ever been a child who delights so much in a one-sided game of chase as my very own little T.rex. You can see the problem with this. I simply CAN’T run after him.
Just this week as I was trying to load him into the car he decided he would much rather go for a run instead and toddled off in the direction of the park. Now, there was no immediate danger as we don’t live on a road, however, just a few toddling steps would bring him out onto a quiet, but somewhat winding, road. I took a trepid step toward him, not wishing to excite him into running any further – no use – he ran off anyway with his cheeky little face grinning wildly. I had no choice but to run, I HAD to catch him before he reached the road. This was life or death. But, still my legs would not let me. I managed half a hop and a foot-drag with a wide stride while screaming for him to stop but it wasn’t enough, his tiny little legs were too quick for me and in those few terrifying seconds I honestly thought I was about to lose him.
Thankfully, he stopped when he got to the end of the path and I managed to sweep him up into my arms (upside down) and haul him back to the car.
So, it would appear, I really can’t run, even if life does depend on it.