Learning To Run

Learning To Run

Learning to run again is, to me, like learning to fly.


I spent eight years trapped within the physical confines of immobility. In the darkest depths of that time, I would dream of running every time I closed my eyes. I was never running to something, or even away from something. I was just running.

I'd wake up to find that I didn't have the strength to even move my legs, let alone stand, or walk, or run. This went on for years, yet every time I woke up from this dream, I cried. Couldn't help it. It felt like my own subconscious was torturing me.

Yet it always seemed like an odd dream to have. In my previous pre-ME existence, I was a dancer, not a runner. The bleep test in school never failed to put the fear of God into me and cross country would literally turn me green. Yet running became a single minded obsession for me. I wanted to put my headphones on, blast music down my ears and be pounded by the wind as I churned up the distance. I wanted the freedom, the independence, both physically and mentally.

It was about this time that I figured out I would never be going back to who I was before, that person was gone, in all the ways that mattered. Looking back wasn't an option, because I wasn't moving that way. I was creating something new. 

I worked and I worked, got a little bit closer every day until in January this year, it clicked. It felt right. After eight long years, I was strong enough to start to learn how to run again.

Learn how to run? It seems a bit ridiculous, but yes, you're body forgets how to do it. It was the same with walking. Balance, co-ordination and core strength are surprisingly hard to come by after a wheelchair. Yet there's a primal part of your psyche that knows exactly what it needs to do, that part of you would never forget such a thing. While the two warred it out to begin with, from the second I pushed off from the ball of my foot, instinct took over. I ran. And it felt like flying.

I managed around about thirty seconds. Then the lactic acid set in, my asthma had a good, loud complain and I slowed to a walk. It became clear that I was going to have to be organised about this. I had next to no aerobic fitness and my muscles had no endurance in them. I was building from nothing, but I was building. I was happy with that.

So I stuck it out at thirty seconds. I ran for half a minute, walked for three and a half. Then I ran for a minute and walked for three. Over and over, incremented progress.

That was twelve weeks ago. I gave myself runner's knee within the first week, just about every joint in my lower body has had its turn to moan at me, but I am running. Three times a week, two miles, timed intervals. Always moving forward.

Today is a day to be marked because for the first time since I started, I am running more than I am walking. 2:20 to 1:40. I have wings.