Have you always wanted to run? Do you have doubts about running after stroke? Please do NOT let your stroke stop you from running, or learning to run. If I did it, then anyone can do it!
My running story
Prior to my stroke in 2013, I would say that I was a reasonably fit person, although I never ran or took part in any basic fitness training. I would walk a lot and think that kept me fit. Around 10 months’ post stroke, following my post stroke depression, I met my personal trainer (and now great friend Melinda), and my positivity and zest for life began to return. I threw myself into fitness (sometimes to my own detriment as I would spend days in bed following a short mountain climb!). However I loved it. I loved the feeling of climbing to the top of a mountain or kayaking across the Pumicestone Passage where we live and just being with nature. Melinda taught me to focus on what I COULD do and not what I could not. I had limbs that worked so why not use them to their best advantage!
It was only during the early part of 2015 that I took up running and trained for a 10K. I started with a simple Couch to 5K running app and it gave me the basics for running. Subsequently joining a running group and watching others who had begun to run following their own strokes, gave me that much-needed passion for being able to complete that first 10K run. Hard work and determination to succeed paid off. That same year, I completed my first 10K run and in a time of 69 minutes so I was very pleased with that. I ran the first 8.5K and only walked up a very steep hill near our local Shelly Beach. I completed the same run again in 2016 (in the howling wind and rain) and it took me two minutes longer. Here is a photo of my husband David and I in 2016, just before we ran the 10K fun run and I have been running ever since (sometimes on and off, when my health hasn’t been too good)
I thrive on setting goals, not only in my running life, but generally. I know that goal setting is not for everyone but it gives me focus and motivation. Roll on four years from my very first 10K run and with over 50 community park runs under my belt, I am currently training for the City2Surf 14km run in Sydney on 11 August. (Check out my very red face of me and my run buddy Lisa on our evening 10K training run earlier this week!) Having a run buddy is essential and Lisa and I keep other accountable.
I am very much looking forward to the City2Surf and hope to run the whole 14k, whilst sharing awareness of stroke, supporting the Stroke Foundation and specifically the Little Stroke Warriors Group. The LSW was set up by two amazing mums, after their children were diagnosed with stroke. We are fundraising for this amazing cause and together, we have already raised over $2500. Thank you to those that have generously donated to my run and here is the link should you wish to donate a $1 or two! Every little helps share awareness and resources for parents who need to cope with their little ones going through a difficult stroke recovery.
As a stroke survivor, I do not believe the words ‘I CAN’T’ exist, so if you are physically able, don’t make any more excuses and start now!
Here are five tips worth knowing that have helped me run:
- Manage your running with your fatigue and you will do OK (i.e. take rest before if needed and balance physical and mental fatigue pre and post runs)
- Drink plenty of water before your run so you don’t become dehydrated
- Try and find a running buddy to keep you motivated.
- Find your local Parkrun. It’s free and it doesn’t matter how slow you go at first. Just keeping trying and there are plenty of people there to cheer you on.
- NEVER give up trying. Always believe in yourself and you CAN do it if you really want to.
Here is a poem, entitled ‘I Did it!’ which is in my book A Stroke of Poetry and I wrote this, following my first 10K run. I share it often and know it inspires people to get out and run. It would be great if you could comment on this post and share your running tips and your achievements, however small they may be and let’s keep each other motivated.
I Did It!
When we first came to Australia, seven years ago, this year.
Our Lady of Rosary was Patrick’s school. Many memories we still hold dear.
Each year they organise a fundraiser, held here on the Coast.
The Caloundra Foreshore Fun Run it is, and well attended by most.
There’s a 10K, 5K and so much more. It’s a beautiful family day.
You can even take a 3K walk and participate that way.
So, the first year I attended I did the 3K walk.
Run? No chance. You’re having a laugh. I’d much rather walk and talk.
As the years progressed, I saw those runners coming through.
I thought “Maybe, am I serious? Is that something I could do?”
I’d watched my good friends running and some had suffered a stroke like me.
They’d trained and got so fit again. That’s where I aspired to be.
Even after my stroke recovery and getting fitter by the day.
Without the correct training a 10K run? There was no way.
So my friend suggested a personal trainer based here on the Coast.
If I joined their runners’ eight-week plan maybe a 10K I could then boast.
So, with my personal trainer, and boot camps through the week.
I added on the running course. I tell you it was no mean feat.
Many mornings up at 5am. Is that really a time to rise?
Some training sessions were really tough. The trainers I grew to despise!
I hurt my knee on a training run. That really set me back.
Physiotherapy sorted that out, and the day came around real fast.
I was feeling very nervous but my mind set got me through.
If I was going to achieve this goal of mine. I knew what I had to do.
As I ran downhill to Moffat Beach, the finish line in my view.
I saw my son waiting to run with me. Tears welled and then I knew.
I’ve really gone and done it! I’ve actually run 10K.
A goal I thought I would never reach I well achieved that day.
Happy running and until next time, please stay stroke safe.