Meet Pam. Pam is a friend and former client of mine. Pam is going to run a half-marathon in two weeks. Impressive? Very.
But there’s more.
Pam has MS. Secondary progressive MS, to be exact. That means she has a chronic, often-disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms can include numbness in the limbs, balance and coordination problems, fatigue, muscles spasms, and many more not-so-fun challenges. The progress, severity, and symptoms of MS vary from one person to another, but one thing is most often true – it typically gets progressively worse.
And then there’s Pam. When I first worked with Pam, she walked with a cane. She’d already lost weight and progressed from using a walker, but she knew it was time to ramp up her regimen if she was going to conquer this thing.
We worked on building muscle strength, endurance, and balance and coordination. It was slow and steady, but Pam was the most determined person I’d ever worked with. Falling was a regular occurrence for her. She’d simply get back up.
She began taking my Pilates classes, and has been a faithful practitioner ever since. She began taking all kinds of group classes, including my Step Aerobics classes! She’d fall down. She’d get back up and keep going.
One day she asked what I thought about the idea of joining running club. It seemed almost ludicrous at the time, seeing as how she was already full of scrapes and bruises from her tumbles. But who am I to say she shouldn’t try? She joined the beginner-level running group, told the leader to go on ahead, she’d lag behind but she’d keep going, and three years later….. she’s about to run her first half-marathon!
Pam asked me to accompany her as she ran the route in preparation for race day. The route circles Lake Monona in Madison, WI. I rode my bike, navigating the twists and turns and making sure she didn’t have any mishaps, and Pam ran.
And ran. And ran. And ran some more.
Pam ran the entire 13 miles with only a one-minute potty break. And only one tumble.
“Hey Laura, look! A yoga studio! Should we stop and do yoga?” ***tumble fall*** “Shit. Am I bleeding anywhere? Because I won’t be able to feel it if I am.”
“Nope. No blood. Keep going?” I asked.
I am in awe of Pam’s accomplishments. She has managed to reverse many of her MS symptoms, and she’s stronger than she’s ever been. When I first began training her, three years ago, one of her goals was to fit into a size 12 pantsuit for her daughter’s wedding. And she did!
Last month she had to take in that same pantsuit. It’s now too big for her.
When I first began training her, she couldn’t lift 5lbs and her arms and legs would often not cooperate. Every session was a bit of trial and error because what she might be able to do one day, the next day she could not due to muscle spasms or tingling or fatigue.
Now she takes all the hardest classes at our gym, including a Crossfit-inspired killer class and an all-barbell strength class. And holds her own, thank you very much.
To commemorate Pam’s achievement I made this short video of her training session. Way to go, Pam! You continue to inspire us every day and I can’t wait to see what you tackle next!
You can read more of Pam’s story on her blog, Yes – I Have MS and Love Running!