So as many of you know I am a keen runner, cyclist and (“suffer”) the swim for the Triathlon. Now I am undertaking a solo 24 hour run for charity with a cause close to my heart, as I wasn’t always able to enjoy an active lifestyle in the way that I can now…
Back in the day, at sixth form in 2002, following a bout of glandular fever I suffered from Chronic Fatigue aka Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). It wiped me out for about 8 months making everyday tasks like school, walking, and at times even staying awake tiring (probably where my love of naps comes from). Fatigue, that is just tiredness, right?
Although being only relatively “mild / moderate” ME sufferer, it affected my day to day life massively in that I was always tired; not just for days, but for a good few months during AS levels. Not tired in a “I need more sleep” way, but more of a “I have no energy and my brain is fuzzy” way. For me not being able to do sport, feeling tired all the time, not being able to concentrate and having no energy was very strenuous. I became withdrawn and down. Hiding away felt the easiest. It took a lot out of me and those around me. For my friends and family seeing me always tired and withdrawn was tough. I was paranoid about sleep (as a hang-over I still am sometimes) but sleep didn’t seem to help me feel awake. My family were great in supporting me but I didn’t talk about it much, so even just putting my story out there now is great and makes me feel like I can finally come to terms with it...
Most nights involved getting home from sixth form to nap, waking up for a bit of homework and then dinner before retiring to sleep. Being told by a GP that “there is nothing more we can do” was quite a low point. According to my Mum, it was a very low point for all the family as it had a very detrimental effect on the mental side of managing and trying to overcome the condition.
Looking back that shows the lack of understanding of the condition within the health care system (and I am really glad to see how much that is improving!). Having run out of options from the GP a family friend suggested homeopathy (I was skeptical). This involved visiting the homeopathist every two weeks and talking about how I felt and taking sugar pills, echinacea and zinc infused vitamins [A-Z]. I am a little unsure of the “science” behind the whole homeopathy claims, but talking and the feeling of getting help had a positive affect and then little signs of improvement gave me a massive boost. It could have just been the “placebo-effect”, in which I am a firm believer!
As I slowly got better, I was really trying to prove to myself that I had recovered, especially physically. Pushing myself too much too soon probably only prolonged things and having to learn to take it slowly was frustrating and arduous. I was feeling much better and confident before University but had a little relapse in the first few months of the first year University so again became a little withdrawn. The fact it came back made me more cautious, especially with sleeping enough.
It’s going to sound strange but on a physical/sport side of things I have only just proved myself to be recovered and caught up with my younger self's sporting expectations/goals. Which is crazy as I have been really active and really excelling my sporty-self in the last 7 or 8 years. Having joined East London Runners I have slowly progressed my running. Winning “most improve male” for 2014 and the confidence everyone had in me, and guidance they gave, really help me push myself in training and have a sub 3 hour marathon as a realistic goal for 2015! It was in late March during the peak of marathon training that I realised how incredible aiming for a sub 3 hour marathon was, and had I known in those most tired moments that I would get to this stage it would have been amazing! Finishing the Manchester marathon (taking me over 1000 miles swam/ran/cycled so far in 2015) with a 20 minute PB in 2:52:54 was amazing and smashed my expectations of my younger self! And receiving “club runner of the month” for April from my club makes me so proud and happy to be part of such a supportive community!
Looking back, ultimately, I wish at the time I had the condition I wish had reached out and understood more about ME and sought support, guidance and community from other’s who were suffering. Hiding away and being stubborn in trying to fight ME wasn’t the best answer. “Hindsight is a beautiful thing”. So, in fundraising for Action for ME who provide support and information for those touched by M.E., and campaigns for better services and invests in research to ultimately find a cure feels a perfect choice for me!
A 24 hour solo running event seemed the perfect (if not ever so slightly ironic?) event at which to do so! Pushing myself to run as many miles as I can in 24 hours will somehow feel easier than trying to deal with ME did at the time!
The event I am doing is endure24 is a twenty four hour race run over a 5 mile lap of forest trail from 12:00pm June 13th to 12:00pm June 14th (there is camping so I will keep the love of naps alive). Knowing that my family will be there on the day(s) to support me, again, is massive! Having close friends there in my support crew too will be amazing, and really means a lot. I am sure that feeling at my lowest, with no energy just trudging round and round in the dark of night, will be very symbolic of how I often felt!
Thanks for taking the time to read my very long story, any donations are very gratefully received https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/endure24ME and if you want to offer some support on the 13 - 14th of June then do tweet me at @endure24ME or tag me on Facebook!
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
That said, cash donations are more than welcome too!