When life gets tough, keep running

Tim Sorrell, has been an inspiration to me and reminds when life gets tough, keep running. When I feel I can’t run, when I feel like I really don’t want to go, I think of Tim and head out of the door. Tim who was diagnosed with MS a number of years ago was kind enough to supply me with why he runs which will also make you feel that you can do it too!

I hated running as a child. At school, they used to make us go on weekly cross-country runs, and I used to walk at every opportunity. I think it’s fair to say that the younger me would look at the way I choose my leisure time now and despair.

I started running again purely as a defensive measure: I was no longer playing as many sports as I used to at school, and pulling on my trainers felt like the most efficient way of combatting all the extra beer I was drinking as a student. At this stage, it was still very much a chore to be endured…. But somewhere along the way, something changed.

I run five times a week; I’m a member of a running club and a very keen participant in my local parkrun; I’m not really one for entering loads of races, but I did complete the London Marathon in 2015 and 2016. I still probably wouldn’t really call myself a runner, but the evidence is rather stacking up against me.

So what happened to me? Well, in 2005, I woke up one summer morning with a numb hand. This was the start of a four-year journey towards a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably imagine that people with MS walk with sticks or use wheelchairs and certainly don’t run marathons; it’s a diagnosis that seems laden with doom and despair.

You know what? It doesn’t have to be.

In my case, MS has given me numbness and pins & needles across my body; it’s affected affected my vision, my bladder and sometimes strikes me down with an awful fatigue. I often wake in the night with cramping and spasming muscles in my legs. More significantly for my running, the MS has also weakened the left-hand side of my body. My muscles there are about 15% smaller than the ones on the other side, and I’ve lost some of the ability to flex my ankle. This means that I drag when I run, sometimes scuffing a foot and sometimes falling over. I wear an ankle cuff designed to try and stop my left foot from dropping and, although this seems to work, it does mean that I now have a nice set of scars where this chafes as I do my long runs.

So why on earth do I run? I run because running makes me feel strong. It might sound odd, but running helps me shake off the fog of fatigue and leaves my muscles with a good, honest tiredness that I can explain. I run because I can and because I’m fully aware that the day may come when I have to stop.

I’ve also met some of the most wonderful, generous people through running: at my running club – Rebel Runners in Nottingham; at Colwick parkrun and yes, through Virtual Runner too. The world might seem to be going to hell in a hand-basket, but these are the people who give up their time to help other people enjoy the sport we all love. That’s something to be celebrated, don’t you think? It’s people like these that inspire me to run and who keep me going through the long slog of a marathon. It’s also thanks to their generosity that my wife Caitlin and I have raised over £20,000 in the last two years to support the MS Trust (https://www.mstrust.org.uk/)… helped along the way to that humbling total by the Virtual Runner Star Wars race series in May 2016.

Every runner knows that running isn’t really about how fast you go, it’s about the determination not to stop; that refusal to allow yourself be beaten. That’s a pretty good motto for life, isn’t it?