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A few bits of background to this blog to help set the scene.. I’ve type 1 diabetes.. royal pain in the rear. As well as being addicted to insulin, sadly type 1’s also have a few other aliments – I’ve got an underactive thyroid – makes me tired unless I keep popping pills everyday, and recent years testostrone is gone low – not resulted in a squeeky voice but has left me having a nasty injection every 2 weeks. Suffice to say I’m taking so many drugs on the WADA list – I really should be an amazing athlete.. err maybe not.

Pretty much since the age of 18 I have run 2-3 times a week. There was the odd exception when I worked overseas in various war zones where hopscotch around landmines was not seen as a good sport to take up, and in other locations if anyone started running it would be an indicator that something was wrong and yes I may have caused an evacuation of a small village in Sudan when I was out for a jog.

Roll on to 3 years ago, I was regularly heading out with my local running club – whilst I was far from the fastest I had my moments where I could push the pace and certainly hold my own.. but as months rolled I was getting slower going up the hills, no amount of talking to myself could I shuffle my arse any faster. I mentioned it to a few people but responses usually were around don’t worry James you are just getting old – have to admit this felt different, the flat and going down hill I was OK but going up hill.. I was going backwards sometimes finding myself off the back.

Alongside this I was also battling with hypothermia, when my body was at a low ebb, usually after 4hrs of exercise. Out of this I did some testing with Leeds Met. The results really told a sobering story – I was getting cold very cold, and often I didn’t realise it. Whilst it was not a cure, I was so grateful to have a group of people help me understand what was going on. From that I have been able to stave off extreme cold by developing strategies to avoid it, or know when to stop before it becomes a real issue..

But following getting all this useful info, I did back off from pushing myself in the hills, I backed off on the number of events I took part in. A few things happened, not least I put a bit of weight on. But then I started finding if I went for a run within minutes my legs would just lock up, I’d be reduced to a walk in minutes of setting off. I tried with the running club in the spring but realised I just could not do much more than 15 mins.. and then I’d be in a lot of pain.

Bizarrely I did decide to do the Tyne trail ultra – goodness what made me think I could take on a 75km ultra. No surprise but within 10 mins the rest of the field shot off and I was hobbling down a track on my own.. but within 40 mins I was jogging. The last 5km of the 75km I was running at full tilt.

A busy summer and occasional attempts to try and run again resulted in things not working out, I mentioned the issue to a good friend who suggested I get myself off to a physio.. a facebook post came back with lots of suggestions with a few putting forward Kendal Physio. A phone call and 2 days later I was in Kendal for a 45 min appointment with Richard.

Reciting much of the story above, I could see the cogs working with Richard – I guess I differed from many of the sports injuries that come to him. Not least this was both of my legs in equal measure, and as the Tyne Trail Ultra showed my legs would work after 45 mins.. generally sports injuries get worse after long exercise! I got better!

To summerise it – I got poor circulation. When I set off for a run my muscles demand oxygenated blood quickly – and that doesn’t turn up.. Similarly 3 years ago when I was trying to run up a hill fast I probably was not getting the blood to the muscles when they demanded it. After 45 mins blood vessels start dilating and whilst I may not be a drugged up athlete I’m doing kind of OK.

Richard compared me more to some pensioners he worked with when he was in the NHS than any previous runner that had walked in to his surgery. Umm

All is not desperate – I’ve got some exercises to do most days with the aim to improve the circulation to my lower limbs, Richard is optimistic I’ll be running again – maybe even back with the club. Doubt I will be breaking any records, but be nice to get out and enjoy something that has been a key part of my life.. running.

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