Last night, after work, I ran my first 10K in almost 2 years. I hadn’t really planned to do it, it just kind of happened. 5K became 6, which became 7… when the dial hit 10K, I slowed to a walk, threw my head back and laughed (much to the slightly alarmed bemusement of the man on the treadmill next to me).
To go back a few months, those of you who know me well will know that I’ve been duing a bit of struggling with my body. We came to blows, my body and I, over a number of issues – some circumstantial, others (the majority, I fear) as a result of unadulterated self-sabotage. Either way, we just lost touch, which caused me to du a tremendous amount of pain and grief, both physically and emotionally.
In innumerable hospitals, I sat in front of world-renowned doctors, consultants and professors and, on 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinions, was told I would never run again. They pointed out ominous, shaded areas on my x-rays and scans to ‘prove’ their point. I nodded, mutely. It wasn’t just my knees, though, my whole body seemed to be, simply, giving up. I was pumped with a pharmacy of drugs – some not even licensed in this country – and given a host of labels, including ‘dysautonomia’, ‘EDS’, ‘dysfunctional breathing’, ‘POTS’… all of which as unhelpful as the last and with equally terrifying prognoses on Google.
I felt defeated, broken, cheated, confused, furious and, above all else, just so very, very tired. Sleep became a distant stranger, as did the very person I thought I once was. Without putting too fine a point on it, I went to some very dark places. Rock bottom came with the notion of walking outside and sitting in the middle of the road until someone came to get me – the police, a passer-by, the men in the white coats, I didn’t care. I was desperate for SOMEONE to help me and far beyond caring who. My brain was addled, sometimes beyond recognition, and my body seemed utterly incapable of following even the simplest of instructions – I lay awake at night utilising every ounce of concentration I had just to command my body to breathe in and breathe out.
I mourned the person I used to be, the ‘normal’ person – young, fit, sarcastic, musical, wine-loving, moody, friendly – whatever. Everything I felt ‘I’ was seemed to have been ‘switched off’, pretty much overnight. I didn’t choose it, I didn’t want it. And, every day that passed seemed to take that person further and further away, until the memory was so hazy I could barely picture her, let alone feel any resemblance of her.
I spent a year Googling, reading medical journals way beyond my GCSE biology, traipsing medical forums; I tried every possible treatment from the conventional to the alternative to the outright barking – most of which cost a bleedin’ fortune – and, although some eased things a little, for a while (most notably acupuncture), none ‘fixed’ me.
Then, a couple of months ago, I read a friend’s post on Facebook – having been in a wheel chair for 3 years with ME, she’d done ‘The Lightning Process’ and walked up St Paul’s after day 1 of the course. I have to confess, my cynical hackles went up at the name – ‘Lightning Process’ – it all seemed far too American-sounding for my British sensibilities, but this was no marketing spiel, it was written by the hand of a friend. I procrastinated. I ignored. I hoped. I made a couple of begrudgingly curious enquiries. Eventually, I ordered the introductory book, hoping it would take an age to arrive and with no intention of reading it when it finally did. Annoyingly, the thing arrived, as if on the wings of a unicorn, before I’d barely had time to put my card back in my wallet. I found a plethora of vitally important tasks to put ahead of picking it up – hand washing a top I hadn’t worn in approximately 16 years, clearing out my cutlery drawer, doing my taxes, that sort of thing, until the universe conspired to wedge me on my sofa with a stinking cold and nothing else to do. I picked up the book and switched on Jeremy Kyle (a last bid attempt at diversionary tactics). By page 2, however, Jeremy was silenced. Four hours later, I’d read the whole thing, cover to cover. I booked a place on the next course.
The 3-day seminar was mind-blowing.
It’s just shy of three weeks since I did the LP and, last night, I ran 10K.
To be clear, The Lightning Process isn’t a ‘quick fix’; it’s not a magic wand, it’s a training programme. It’s hard work and you have to keep working at it, sometimes second-by-second. But, last night, I ran 10K. I could undermine my achievement in many ways – by noting the time it took me to do a run I used to do considerably faster or whatever, but, the truth is that none of that matters. I did it – I proved them all wrong.
I’d also like to note that running a 10K, over the last couple of years, became my Everest. I’ve had a couple of reactions to my achievement of it, today, that have made me sad. I have to accept, though, that I took fitness to the extreme in the past – way beyond the extreme, actually – and people who care about me were, rightly, concerned. I have no intention of behaving in the way I used to – the way that did me so much harm. Running 10K, yesterday, was symbolic for me – after all that’s happened, if I could run 10K again, I’d know I could do anything. I can do anything, now. And there’s so much more I want to do, far beyond the realms of the gym! I’m not going to deny that the London Marathon is on my bucket list, it very definitely is! I am going to run, I am going to train, but I’m also going to live and socialise and play music and laugh uproariously whenever George falls over (an unnatural amount) and travel and watch shit-awful films in my PJs on a Saturday afternoon or whenever the mood takes me. Yes, I wanted everyone to jump sky-high, yelping unrestrained choruses of halleluiah, hug me and possibly shed a benevolent tear, at the announcement of my first 10K in years, yesterday, but I have to take responsibility for the past and understand that the only way I can show them how very different things are, now, is to prove it. All I would ask is that they allow me the time and space to do so and be happy for me in the interim.
The Lightning Process http://lightningprocess.com, developed by the beautiful, genius mind of Phil Parker, has had tremendous success with all sorts of things… ME/CFS, chronic pain, MS, OCD, addiction, to name but a few. I would urge anyone who is currently duing struggling of any sort to look into it.
To all the doctors, specialists, consultants and professors who told me I’d never run again, I say: In. Your. Face.
To any of you who’ve ever been told ‘No… You can’t… You won’t…’, I say: Yes. You can. You will.
To Phil, I say: Thank you.
On a slightly separate note: hairbands. The things you tie your hair up with, they’re called ‘h.a.i.r.b.a.n.d.s’. Not scrunchies or bobbles or any other such ridiculous abuse of language. Hairbands. Ok? Thingies, doodahs or whatsits, I’ll accept, at a push.
Yup, she’s back.