Tough Mudder and Scoliosis

Running Tough Mudder with scoliosis

I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself following my scoliosis surgery, and this weekend was no exception.

Yesterday, I completed my first Tough Mudder – a 10 mile mud run with 20 obstacles that you have to see to believe! The obstacles are extreme and include electrocution, being plunged into ice-cold water, swimming/wading through freezing cold lakes, crawling through the mud under barbed wire, climbing (or being pulled!) over huge 12 foot walls – the list goes on!

With having scoliosis and a fused spine, this event was a huge challenge for me – but I don’t do things by halves.

In the lead up to the event, I felt really nervous. I wasn’t too concerned about the running side of it, as I knew that it would be very stop start with the amount of obstacles and also quite difficult to run some parts due to all the mud!

I was more concerned about the obstacles themselves and whether I could do them, as I have a distinct lack of upper body strength.  I have done Pretty Muddy before but that is much tamer in comparison and doesn’t really require any upper body strength. I was also worried about how my back would cope with all the bending, twisting, crawling and clambering! Also, I was worried about getting badly injured – falling off something and breaking my leg for example…

I do quite a lot of running anyway, I usually do Park Run on a Saturday and I run with my run club every week but I didn’t really do any specific training for this event. I was a bit concerned about this, as I had planned to follow a training plan and work on my upper body strength leading up to the event, but this fell by the wayside after I was in quite a bad (non-running related) accident a few months ago, which put my training on hold. I decided to go ahead and attempt the event despite this and I’m so glad I did.

It was tough, and very challenging. Some of the obstacles were fun, some were terrifying and some were definitely outside of my comfort zone. But sometimes you have to push yourself to grow and I’d rather look back and say – I can’t believe I did that, than I wish I did that.

Tough Mudder Obstacle
Tough Mudder Obstacle

With having had scoliosis surgery, there were a few obstacles that I couldn’t do. For example, there were a couple of electrocution ones that said not to attempt if you have excess metal in your body – so unfortunately they were a no, no for me! To be honest, I was a bit gutted as I wanted to attempt all of the obstacles – I don’t like being told I can’t do things…

There was also one bit where you had to give people piggy backs, and I just do not have the strength in my back at the moment, so I received a piggy back rather than giving one!

All of the obstacles requiring upper body strength, to be honest I struggled with and had to be pulled up by others. But after completing the event, that’s what I’ve realised. Tough Mudder is about teamwork more than anything and most of the obstacles you cannot complete without the help of others – either your own teammates or complete strangers. This is the case whether you have scoliosis (or any condition) or not. The atmosphere is fantastic – everyone works together to get your across/over the obstacles, which is amazing.

Tough Mudder Pyramid Scheme Obstacle
Tough Mudder Pyramid Scheme Obstacle

I’m glad I gave Tough Mudder a go and it is definitely one of my highlights of this year so far. It has made me more determined to work on my upper body strength at the gym and try again next year. What’s amazing is that my back coped fine and did not hurt at all, all the way through. My legs felt heavy and tired after about 8/9 miles but my back was completely fine.

Even today (the day after the event), yes I’m sore, in pain and I’m covered in cuts and bruises, but the pain is muscle pain and no different to what anyone else who completed Tough Mudder will be feeling today.

There’s no reason why having scoliosis should stop me from doing ANY of the obstacles (apart from the electro ones). A lot of it is mind over matter and yes, upper body strength definitely helps!

Next year I want to get stronger, go back fighting, try the ones I struggled with again and smash them! 😀

Tough Mudder Selfie
Tough Mudder Selfie

A bit of advice if you are doing a Tough Mudder (or similar event) for the first time…

  • Do it as a team! It is best to do an event like this as part of a team, and it helps it someone in your team is strong and can help lift you up/over things! This was a LIFESAVER in my case!!
  • Don’t panic like I did! It is supposed to be fun. Everyone is really friendly, there is a team spirit atmosphere, and everyone looks out for each other. Plus if there are obstacles you cannot do you can skip them.
  • Wear leggings that cover your knees
  • Take a change of clothes and a towel as they have showers and changing areas on site
  • Wear trail running trainers – if you wear normal gym trainers they will be ruined. Plus, you will be slipping and sliding everywhere.
  • Give things a go – put yourself outside of your comfort zone and try things that make you scared/nervous. You will feel amazing after you’ve done it trust me.

 


Have you ever taken part in an event like this? Would you ever? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

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Running Tough Mudder with Scoliosis

Running and mental health

Running and Mental Health

Running and Mental Health


It’s Mental Health Awareness week 14th – 20th May 2018, so to raise awareness I thought I’d write a post on the effect running has had on my own mental health. It’s well documented that running can be good for mental health, and everyone has reasons why they run.

For some it’s to lose weight, keep fit or socialise. For others, it’s escapism from a stressful job or the strains of everyday life. Personally, I run for a mix of reasons, yes I do it to keep fit but also because I enjoy it, running makes me happy and when I’m running I forget about everything else.


How I discovered running…

I have suffered with anxiety, depression and low self esteem over the years, as a direct result of having scoliosis. I first discovered running about 3 years ago, 5 years after my scoliosis surgery, which I had to fuse my spine straighter in 2010.

My friend was taking part in a Race for Life 10k event and asked me to join her. At the time, I was a bit dubious as I had never done any running before and the event was only 5 weeks away. However, me being me, I agreed to take part to support her and started training.

In the past, I had always avoided running. With having scoliosis, I knew that it probably wasn’t the best for me due the impact on the joints and spine. I didn’t want to let my back stop me though! After training for just 5 weeks, I completed my first ever 10k in 1 hour 17 minutes, which I was incredibly proud of at the time.

After this, I was addicted. I guess I couldn’t believe what my body had achieved, despite my scoliosis.

Since then, I have completed many 10k races in under an hour and I have a wall full of medals. I regularly take part in Park Run, I’m a member of a running club and I’m training for a half marathon in May.

Running has helped me to overcome so many obstacles and has gotten me through some incredibly tough times.

Running and mental health
Night Trail Running!

 


How running saved me…

Last year, I had a particularly tough time following the break down of my 13 year relationship. At the time, I was feeling so alone and pretty depressed. I hit rock bottom, started binge drinking and I was hardly eating. I would say that running helped to save me from a downward spiral and possible break down.

Luckily, in December, I started pulling myself together and signed up to Run up to Christmas, which I spotted by chance on Instagram. This is a virtual running event where you had to run a certain amount of kms between 1st – 25th December. I chose 50km. The cost of entering went towards supporting Mind, the charity for mental health, and you got a cool medal if you completed it.

For me, this was brilliant as it kept me distracted during a difficult festive period and forced me out in the cold and snow. I suddenly had something to aim for again. There was also an online community, which made me feel less alone and I started connecting and chatting with others taking part. It also motivated me to attend my local Park Run on Christmas Day to get those final kms in,  instead of moping around feeling depressed.

Run up to Christmas
Run up to Christmas medal

A Fresh Start…

In January this year, I also forced myself to join a run club and have met lots of other like-minded people.

I was terrified the first time I went, but it has helped my well-being immensely. I now feel part of a community and less alone. When I attend races and Park Run I actually recognise people and people say hi to me, rather than just going and running on my own like I used to. This has all worked wonders for my mental health and I’m in a much better place than I was last year as a result.

Running and mental health
Air Products 10K with my run club

I now run about four times a week, a couple of times a week with the run club. Running gives me something to focus on and seeing myself improve over time makes me feel so good about myself. It also reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible, despite my scoliosis and anything going on in my personal life.

If I’m feeling anxious, low or having a bad day, I’ll go for a run. It’s my way of managing stress and anxiety and it works for me. After going out for a run or completing a race, I feel on a high all day and those endorphins are highly addictive.

Running and mental health
Running and mental health – Tatton Park 10K

 


Miles for Mind

To raise awareness of mental health and to give myself something to aim for in May, I have signed up to Miles for Mind. This is another virtual running event and I’ll be aiming to run at least 75 miles throughout May. With 50% of profits going to Mind, who provide advice and support to those with mental health problems, it’s definitely a worthy cause.


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Running and Mental Health

Pretty Muddy

Pretty Muddy!

I love a good challenge and continue to push myself following my scoliosis surgery. So, earlier this year, despite injuring my shoulder running last August, I decided to sign up to Pretty Muddy – a 5K muddy obstacle course – to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

I was a bit nervous and worried that I wouldn’t be flexible enough to do all of the obstacles, especially as I knew that some involved crawling under nets through the mud. However, I was determined to give it a good go and religiously followed the training plan on the Race for Life website for 12 weeks before the event.

It was a few weeks ago now, but I successfully completed the race AND, best of all, I managed to do ALL of the obstacles.

Yes, it was a fun run and most people weren’t taking it seriously (there were women of all abilities and fitness levels taking part) but I was extremely proud of myself, as I never thought I’d be able to do ANYTHING like this post scoliosis surgery.

These type of events have previously filled me with fear and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it just a few years ago!

Thankfully, I have noticed in the last couple of years that my flexibility has improved immensely, whether this is down to all the gym work I do or whether it’s because my surgery was 6 years ago now I’m not sure but I think it’s this improvement in flexibility that enabled me to complete this obstacle course.

It continues to amaze me what I can do with my fused spine and it just goes to show my scoliosis shouldn’t stop me from trying new things and pushing my limits. Not only did I raise hundreds of pounds for Cancer Research, I also achieved a new personal goal.

I’m not going to lie, my lower back was sore for a day or two afterwards, which was likely because of all the bending and stretching to get over and under obstacles, but luckily this was temporary and overall it was great fun!

I definitely would do it (or another mud run type event) again 🙂

Louise X

  • Pretty Muddy!