Still running after stroke

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!10k fun run 2016

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)

Goal setting

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.

Me and Lisa 10 k run photo

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.

Shelagh


My FIVE Stroke Survivor tips

Hi everyone.

I was recently invited by the Stroke Foundation, to be the guest opening presenter at a Young Stroke Survivors Positive Recovery Think Tank, held here on the Sunshine Coast, near to where I live (lucky for me not having to travel!). I love to take part in these events and get joy in sharing my story about stroke and how I recovered from my post stroke depression though poetry, exercise and positive thinking.

I was asked by the Stroke Foundation to list FIVE tips that I would share with the audience. This was not difficult to do as I live by them daily. Please let me share them with you here…

TIP NO. ONE – Awaken each day and pull on those positive pants!

original_positive-pants-good-luck-cardSometimes we awaken tired, grumpy, or with our head full of the huge list of ‘jobs’ we have to do that day. Maybe the weather outside is a little miserable, cold, and the sun isn’t shining. I have to say that sometimes I awaken like that but then I clear my mind of the negative things and work out how I will get things done with a smile on my face and not a scowl. However you decide to start the day usually means it will end like that, so pull on those positive pants and meet the day with focus and determination.

 

TIP NO. TWO – Focus on what you CAN do, not what you cannot.

can-cantAfter my stroke, over four and a half years ago now, I failed to focus on what I COULD do. I wanted my ‘old’ life back and was sad and frustrated that I could no longer do the things I once did, or that my brain would not work the same way. My personal trainer and my lovely friend Melinda taught me this tip. I know that it seems easy me sharing this with you all, but it does work! Once I stopped looking back to what I could no longer do and focus upon sharing my poetry with everyone, and using my able limbs to walk, climb and run, I soon realised there were so many things I could do. It doesn’t have to be poetry or exercise, but find something that gives you joy and focus on that. Go on..give it a go!

 

TIP NO. THREE – Be grateful

thANKFULOnce again, this sounds like a very simple tip. It actually is. Even though we may have had the worst day in our week, or feel we’ve had a terrible day for a variety of reasons, there is always something to be grateful for.  Your gratefulness could be simply for the gift of life, grateful that the sun shone and dried your washing, or that the bus arrived on time to take you to work. You may be grateful that you had movement in your limbs, that had not previously moved. Having a grateful heart makes us a better person. Go on, close your eyes and see what you are grateful for today. I bet you find something.

 

TIP NO. FOUR – Celebrate your successes, however small they may be

lets-celebrateI feel we should all celebrate our achievements and focus upon the positive and the smallest of ‘wins’ can change our mood and make us feel happy. I have a stroke friend who was recently able to tie his shoe laces. This task has taken months and we all celebrated this huge achievement with him. Can you remember when your child first walked or talked, or even tied their own laces? How excited were you for them?

Many stroke survivors have the smallest of goals to work towards so its important to celebrate these when they reach them. What’s your goal or something you have achieved recently?

 

TIP NO. FIVE – Love and live your life every single day

love_live_life_by_nikster08For those of you that follow my blogs, either on my website, on my Facebook page or on Enableme, then you will know how passionate I am about living my life to the full. Yes, I often do too much and my post stroke fatigue kicks in, but it doesn’t stop me. I love being outdoors, I love exercising by the ocean and in nature and spending time with family and friends just having fun. This year, I have added some slower, more mindfulness sessions to my life such as Tai Chi/Qi Gong and Yoga. Here on the Sunshine Coast I practice these in a beautiful environment at The Farm or with Dani. Perhaps find these slower forms of exercise that give time for just ‘you’ and share them with us.

I am not saying that you should follow these five tips, BUT they work for me and even if you haven’t had a stroke or a life changing illness, perhaps being more mindful about how you live your life isn’t such a bad thing. is it?

As always,

Stay healthy and happy.

Much love

Shelagh


Inspiration 2

Stroke Inspiration – it’s out there if you look for it!

When we think about inspiration, what image or feeling does that conjure up? Would it be fair to say that we are more inspired by ordinary people who have done amazing or extraordinary things? The Oxford Dictionary define inspiration as: The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.(mass noun). Since my stroke, four years ago, I became inspired by others. I read books, journals and followed those on Facebook and the internet who I felt had moved on with their lives following a great setback. My close friends I have come to know; Ida Dempsey and Neil Collie trained to run marathons and they too, had suffered major setbacks after stroke. If they could do that…then what reason did I have not to do the same? They were my inspiration to run.

Meaning of life

Many people tell me I am an inspiration.  Yes, I moved forward with my life in a positive way, I too began running and wrote my poetry. Yes, I self published my book, A Stroke of Poetry, and I am training for my next 10km run in June and I now deliver Stroke Safe presentations to the local communities but I do not feel inspirational in the sense of the word, but feel I have a purpose and meaning in my life to share my experiences in order to help others. If others see me as an inspirational person, then surely that’s a good thing. I feel like I am just me. Just ordinary Shelagh with a positive mindset and a desire to get better and fitter everyday and tell the whole world that they can live a happy, positive life. I am part of a Facebook group, Attempt 2 Run After Stroke, where stroke survivors share their experiences of being able to run and swap running advice. This week, I read a post from one of the members, who is now my friend and has approved me posting his comment. His name is Lama Nishit, a ‘nearly 44’ stroke survivor from Darjeeling, who suffered his stroke 2 years ago. This is his post..

“Doctors said I had a massive stroke, I was almost dead. It was more than three hours before I received any treatment. I might not have been here today if my concerned colleagues hadn’t travelled to my place when my flat owner had called them. They then took me to Krishna institute of medical sciences. I had an ischemic stroke, a blood clot in the brain. I was given statins ,aspirin and many more injections and medications to thin the blood. Oh and they inserted stents in my clogged arteries. Once my condition was stable, I began rehabilitation. Luckily I stayed in the hospital for 15 days. I was devastated, I thought my life was over. My right side was completely paralysed and I was in a wheelchair but I tried to remain positive and take one day at a time. Lifestyle may have raised my risk of a stroke. As a smoker, I had developed a two pack a day habit. I drank occasionally and neglected my fitness over work. Stroke does not discriminate by age, it can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. So folks you can prevent strokes by making healthy lifestyle choices. Strokes can happen to healthy people too. The risk factor is higher among people who do not follow a healthy lifestyle.”

Lama

  Lama Nishit

I have followed Lama on his running journey now for several months and he is truly an inspiration to me and many others who follow his progression from what you read above, to a stroke survivor who is now running and determined to keep running. Lama comments: “In order to feel better, you have to feel good about yourself.” That is very true and if anyone out there feels that they cannot move forward, please seek advice from the Stroke Foundation or hop onto Enableme to seek inspiration from others who have had the same feelings that you are now experiencing. Email me or contact me through Facebook. Remember you are not alone in your recovery.

Please let me know how you go, whether this is with your exercise or any small part of life that you have improved since your stroke..I would love to hear about it.

Stay healthy and happy always.

Shelagh