Guest Blog by Chrissie Stephenson
Stuck in a rut with your health? Need to de-stress, re-energise and refocus? Don’t know where to start?
This inspirational blog by local running coach Chrissie Stephenson will give you all the encouragement you need. In the post, Chrissie describes how she overcame great adversity to set up a successful fitness and health business that helps Richmonders. The blog is about running, but the lessons in it are about life…
The benefits of running are well documented. From improving cardiovascular health, to helping bone health, and for many, to help alleviate stress, anxiety and depression.
And yet, some people struggle to get started and never find their way to that magical “running bug”. Be it fears about “wobbly bits” in lycra, getting out of breath after only a few minutes, feeling embarrassingly slow, or starting with great intent but not sticking to it – there are lots of reasons.
If any of this resonates with you, and you’re fortunate enough to have a body that works, I promise, you can run. I can show you how, but that’s a separate story. In this blog, I’m going to tell you about my journey and hope it gives you the inspiration you need.
I’m not from a sporting background – far from it.
Even running around the block used to be a struggle. But, when I was about 28, I decided to change, and with some fantastic help, I learned how to run and started my journey to competing internationally at Ironman.
Over 10 years later, it is undoubtedly one of the best changes I’ve made in my life.
Three years ago, at 37, I finally plucked up courage to leave the corporate world, to help others embark on a similar journey. I qualified in nutrition, motivation, and as a Master Coach in body mechanics and training. My plan was to help others with their health and fitness.
Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go to plan.
On November 11 2016 I had just finished a half marathon and was cycling to meet a new group of clients. It was a beautiful, crisp morning, and I was getting to grips with the world of self-employment and everything seemed well in the world.
Then everything very abruptly changed.
I’d just cycled past Bicycle in Richmond, and noticed a guy on the other side of the road.
He wasn’t at the crossing
And the road was free of traffic
I thought he’d wait to cross
I was wrong.
For a split second I thought oh “&*@*”
The next thing I knew, someone was saying:
“Don’t worry I’m a first aider”
Wonderfully kind strangers helped me hobble into a chemist.
There was blood everywhere, I felt so sorry for the poor chemist.
I was amazed at how kind and nice people are.
I thought I was okay and just bleeding a lot.
But I wasn’t okay.
My hip broken and things unravelled further as time went on.
Eight hours later I was in a head and neck brace. Alarmed doctors were worried about spine and head injuries. News came that I may be in hospital for months, and my leg may not stay attached.
It was scary.
And then it got tough.
The main nerve that controls my facial nerves stopped working and I couldn’t close my eyes or smile (I quickly learned how important and powerful smiling is).
I needed my hands to hold my eye shut.
I wasn’t allowed to put any weight on my leg.
I’m an outdoor person, but I couldn’t go outside.
I couldn’t speak or see properly.
I couldn’t earn any money.
I was taking strong medication (with horrible side effects) to try and reactivate my nerves.
It was a dark time, but I kept going.
I appreciated things. Like the moments I wasn’t in pain, the spirit of the wonderful women in my ward and people’s unbelievable kindness.
Overriding everything, was my love of being outdoors and active. It fuels my energy and optimism. I’ve had wonderful experiences in my life because of it, and met so many incredible people.
So, I did all the laborious, boring exercises. The desire to be active again drove me. I’m not sure I would have had the patience nor determination without it.
Even with the support of the fantastic people I have in my world
And bit by bit, I started to get better. After a few months I was allowed to let my foot touch the floor.
I learnt to walk again.
And after I learnt to walk, I eventually learnt to run.
Then other people started to ask if I could help them learn to run and that’s when I started my Walk to Run groups.
Today I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by an incredible group of people. Some haven’t run for over 50 years, but have trusted me to help them get started and run 5k and beyond.
I may not be able to run like I used to, but I can run.
My runners are incredible, and I am happy.
And that’s all that matters