So an unexpected result of me beginning to run for the first time in my life is that I’m also seeing the severe impact that my disability has had not only on the day to day things but also in what I have missed out on in my lifetime. As a kid, I wasn’t able to run around and get out of breath, like the other kids. I was usually in the corner, reading my book, or maybe playing a computer game. As a result, I have never ran in my entire life. I can’t even remember the when I’ve gotten really winded or sweaty. And, this is beginning to show up in the way that I run.
My legs don’t usually give out when I’m running around the dock. It’s my lungs and chest that feel like they’re about ready to explode, forcing me to stop and take a break, slowing me down entirely. In fact, I have yet to really feel sore in my legs at all. But after a good workout, I feel like my torso wants to explode.
I couldn’t believe it when a friend of mine suggested that I start a couch to 5k programme like the ones that are available on the iPhone or the NHS website. Couch to 5k is literally what it says on the tin- it’s meant to get you from a complete couch potato to someone who can run a 5k in nine weeks, or however long the programme lasts. I’m in good shape, I’m cute, I’m not overweight at all, and I’m starting out a programme for people that have literally never exercised in my life. Come on! I used to hold national wheelchair track records. How is that possible?
It’s possible because running uses your body in a whole different way than anything you are ever used to. And for someone who has literally never run in their life, it is like starting as a complete couch potato. I can’t run 60 seconds without getting winded, and that’s a big problem no matter how you cut it.
So with a big chunk of humble pie, last week I started my couch to 5k programme, and this week I had to repeat the first week in order to be able to even meet the requirements that are demanded from my little iPhone app. It’s hard not to feel frustrated. But at the end of the day, that’s the point of doing this. To push my body and to create a machine that will allow me to reach my full potential. Even if that means starting from the point of view of a couch potato.