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C365: Injuries Take Their Toll

July 4, 2014

It’s something that is going to happen this year, I just hope and pray that they aren’t ones that will stop any of us completing the challenge!

So far mine have centred round issues to do with my dodgy body.

Not many people know but I was born with a mild form of Spina Bifida, meaning that my spinal column didn’t fully form and close round the nerves in my spine before birth.  This resulted in my left side being smaller than my right, which inevitably cause problems with my back.  When I was 18 I had major surgery to correct this, shortening my right femur so that my body was more balanced.

Job done? Not quite…when you spend all your developmental years lop-sided your muscle and motion memory still draws everything left, so I get some problems with muscle tightness after exercise as my body has been fighting with itself on top of being forced to work…and work hard!

I loved sports growing up and this ‘disability’ didn’t stop me…okay, I was never going to be an elite athlete but was going to prove to people that I couldn’t be stopped.  After the operation I still had that mentality, and got back to running doing a few 10k runs, but as I reached my late 20s my body started to protest far more than I had ever experienced before.

I was told that I probably needed to stop running or doing any kind of exercise that involved high impact…gutted wasn’t the word.  This thing had finally beaten me and, after a couple of failed attempts to prove the docs wrong I had to admit defeat.  Shin splints, acute tendonitis and the highly likely potential of stress fractures forced me to admit I couldn’t do this anymore.

So what changed?  Sorry to go on about it…(I realise that all my other blogs have said similar) but other people made a real difference in my life.  Complete strangers in fact. (Not so much now mind.)

A few years ago I decided that it was time to get fit again…in giving up I’d put the pounds (stones) on, and with three boys this was not a good thing!

The YMCA had a membership at the Oasis Health Club and I found a welcoming community of people, all from different backgrounds, different shapes and sizes, but all with the same goal, to be fit and healthy.  As the stones fell off, a friend asked why I was doing this (the gym was becoming something of an obsession) and I had no answer really other than vanity!  During one the circuit classes few people (now friends) asked if I was interested in taking on something called Tough Mudder.  Running?  I couldn’t do that…I turned them down but they kept on asking!

It became clear that Tough Mudder wasn’t a race but a challenge…something that I couldn’t complete on my own, in fact it was designed to make sure that was the case!  So I joined up!

This group of people (you know who you are if reading this) dragged me back when I didn’t believe in myself. Without knowing, they gave me the confidence to achieve something that I didn’t think was possible.  Thank you fellow Mudders!!

Because my body isn’t the most symmetrical I do have to be careful of injuries but, by the end of this challenge, 18 years after the operation to level me up, I will have completed a lifetime ambition of running the London Marathon!  Now that’s defying the odds!

Malcolm Smith
Challenge 365 Team

To read more about the Challenge or to sponsor Malcolm, please visit his Challenge 365 Profile Page.