The clocks have turned back, the leaves are falling from the trees, it’s dark when I leave work and I’m scrapping the ice off the car in the morning… that can only mean one thing autumn most definitely has arrived. I have six months left until the London Marathon and I need to keep my training on track but it’s hard in the cold and dark evenings.
It turns out that November is running safety month so it seemed like a good opportunity to sit down and make sure I am safe out running.
I am very used to risk assessing activities, while I never let epilepsy stop me from living life to the full I am not one to go into anything without thinking about how I can make it as safe as possible. That has quite possible saved me in the past, for example, when I had a seizure on a chair lift skiing, I had risk assessed for that very occurrence and so had a harness on and was strapped to the chair lift… had I not things could have ended very differently.
So safe running when you have epilepsy. First off visibility is crucial, if you have a seizure while crossing a road you want the cars to be able to see you and stop rather than run you over! So the more visible the better. I wear a bright running jacket and reflective hat with lights front and back and a light up arm band just to be safe.
I always plan my runs to be on roads which have a pavement and are well lit sticking to the more major roads, for some of my longer runs I know that the pavements are a little uneven so I add a head torch into the mix just to be extra safe.
Up until recently my husband and my strategy for help if I had a seizure was plan a route and an approximate time and if I wasn’t back by then send out the search party. However with my longer runs taking over 2 hours (and getting longer as the marathon approaches) that means I could be lying in a ditch for quite a while!
Enter the Empatica embrace watch which I ordered nearly two years ago in a crowdfunding programme. It arrived a few weeks ago and has really boosted my running confidence. It will detect if I have a seizure and call my husband and with the help of a location app like ‘Friend Locator’ he can come straight out and find me.
Confidence is a big part of running for me, my seizures started 12 years ago during running so there is a mental link there for me. I also know that a big trigger for me is stress and anxiety so feeling confident that I am safe in turn will reduce the chance of me having a seizure.
Then just other general safety bits, try to cross busy roads at designated crossings and don't be tempted to just dash out in front of a car because you don't want to break your stride, jogging on the spot is a good way to keep moving while you wait for the lights to change.
Then of course like any runner I like to keep a record of my runs and progress. I love the ‘Strava’ app for that, it really helps me stay motivated to keep going with my training and with the cold dark evenings really approaching that is going to be key to my successful training.
I hope that this blog helps other people with epilepsy feel more confident to get out and run as I really do feel running is so beneficial for everyone but even more so when you have a long term health condition. It helps regulate mood, keeps you healthy and just builds self-confidence and self-esteem. A great way to get started is to the 'couch to 5k' app, it builds up from very low activity to 5k runs in a matter of weeks and is really achievable. So get those running shoes on and hit the paths.
If you would like to support my London Marathon attempt and help people living with epilepsy you can sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/clair-cobbold/