As you guys have heard many a time before, I am not a particularly big fan of the old health and fitness scenario. I like a good dance (with or without cocktails), I bloody love to swim (you’ve probably heard that a million times right?), but occasionally I pull on a pair of running shoes and drag my backside out for a shuffle around the block. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. I am no athlete and I don’t hugely enjoy running, but I do it because I know it’s good for me. And it means I don’t need to feel too guilty about eating all of the cheese. Or chocolate.
Last year, I took on my first 10km. I trained relatively hard, taking on Sydenham Hill once or twice a week and dragging my backside out for shuffles that began to look increasingly like jogs, nay, perhaps even those illusive “runs”. I finished the 10km in 1 hour 7 and I was pretty bloody pleased with myself.
Cancer changed things a bit. I went from running reasonably far at a fairly reasonable pace to being forced to retire my running shoes while my breast healed (or rather, attempted to heal) post mastectomy and all of the follow up surgeries. I found myself counting down the days to when I could get back to running, but then when I did, chemo meant I was worse at running than the early days. I tired easily and I was absolutely furious with cancer for ruining all the hard work I’d done. It was a bloody battle, and one that ended quite a few times with me sobbing in the park, aching, cold and pissed off. With life, with cancer, with my body, with myself for crying in public. Again.
But not long after I got diagnosed, I’d signed up for the Cancer Research Winter Run 10km again on a whim. You know, one of those, stubborn WELL CANCER ISN’T GOING TO RULE MY LIFE whims. One of them OH HEY CANCER, YOU CAN’T STOP ME whims that I came to regret when race day rolled round two days after my last chemo. Great timing, eh? It was suggested I give it a miss, but those whims and my pure bloody mindedness meant there was no way I wasn’t crossing that start line. I would have crawled there if I’d had to. And I’d have crawled the whole 10km if I needed to.
And I did it. With the aid of two of my closest friends, two family members and my homeboy CDB, I bloody did it. Bald and all. And I won’t lie, it was bloody glorious. I loved it. So much more than when I did it solo last year. I got high fives and hugs from strangers. We ran through the closed London streets on a drizzly, chilly Sunday, past some incredible landmarks and sights. And we ran more than I imagined we would. And it made all (though there weren’t many) of those sad preparatory runs worth it when we crossed the line after 1 hour and 31 minutes.
Staying active during cancer treatment is hard, especially if the activity you love most is off limits. So find something you don’t hate and set yourself a goal. But don’t make it an unachievable one. And don’t put any pressure on yourself either. Leave every expectation you have of yourself at home. And I KNOW how hard this is. I’m perpetually hard on myself, and it took a shift not to be. But remember just how much your body is going through and has been through. Give yourself a break and be proud of yourself just for heading out, even if you run for two minutes and walk for 25. That’s totally cool. And remember to be proud of yourself too.
I can heartily recommend finding a #Squad. I honestly believe that my clan carried me round that 10km run – not physically as initially expected – but mentally and emotionally. I held them all back as my pace was slow but I’m so grateful to them for running with me and being such an awesome bunch of people. It makes me a bit teary when I think about it. I salute you all.
I’m off out for a shuffle round this afternoon. I don’t have any aims for distance or time. I’m just going to go out and enjoy moving my body. And I’m going to be grateful that I can.
Here’s a few snaps from the day:
NB: I didn’t fundraise this year, just in case I didn’t make it to the start line or across the finish line. But Big Sis is fundraising for Look Good, Feel Better throughout the year and Sophie is fundraising for Cancer Research. If you wanted to, I’m sure they’d be happy to receive your donations. Choose wisely (LOL).
OH PS – I only went and bloody won Lifestyle Blogger of the Year at the Blogger’s Lounge Awards. Literally never expected that to happen. Not in a million years. If you voted THANK YOU. Couldn’t have done it without you. You’re a rock star!