I started running after I was diagnosed with MS. It was a way to take my body back. It allowed me to identify as an athlete chasing runners high rather than someone whose body was failing her. That’s why I’ve always come back to it. It makes me feel powerful when my body feels unsteady, it makes me feel tough through the back and bone pain from the G-CSF shots, it makes me feel like I can adjust what I thought my limits were.
The reasons why I run feel clear, but the act of doing it isn’t always. Sometimes after a relapse or after a round of chemo, my body doesn’t cooperate. I learned to turn off my pace clock and let the act of running make me feel strong- not the distance or the speed. I tell myself that every time I get out of the door, and every step my body takes that I am taking my body back. When it gets hard, because right now every run gets hard, I remind myself of famous athletes who have MS. I think of Josh Harding playing for the Minnesota Wild for 11 years and know that since he was strong I can be too. I think of Kayla Montgomery and how she is probably running today, so I should too. And I think of Brian Bickell, who was on a Stanley Cup winning team and know that I too can be an athlete.
Every time MS gets hard, I want that runners high. I want that feeling that makes me feel strong. I want to identify as an athlete. So today- it was slow and it definitely wasn’t pretty, but I laced up my shoes and I didn’t just go for a run- I let my body know that it is mine.
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