Roughly twenty years ago a lower limb amputee asked me to teach him how to run. “Absolutely “I said. What I thought was “hmm, better find out how!” And so began a journey that has affected both my personal and professional life.
Naturally I hit the books and then was fortunate enough to get a travelling scholarship to a conference in Chicago. Amputee physiotherapist running guru Bob Gailey was in my sights. I still sometimes can’t believe I got up the hutzpah to introduce myself to him and probe his brain. Being the generous person with his time that he is, Bob gave me a personal lesson in amputee running in the hallway outside the lecture hall. Ok, ready to give it a go.
Back at the track at home, we assessed our would-be runners. Armed with strength and conditioning training, I dispatched them to the gym, took them for sessions in the pool and started to realise that we had a lot to do working on our collective core strength. In 3-6 months they were back bigger, stronger and ready to try running prostheses. Time to find a coach. Sadly at this time no-one wanted an athlete with a disability in their squad. So after a level one coaching course I assumed the role.
Those early times at the track were exciting as we experimented with prosthetics, drills and techniques. The courage and determination of those amputee pioneer runners was exemplified by the attitude displayed after a nasty snapping of the prosthesis whilst heading full tilt down the track; resulting in a combat roll, and the question on getting up and dusting off… “Well, what’s next?”
The results of this journey were setting national records, medalling internationally and eventual paralympic gold. But the results for me were helping some amputees to achieve their goals and pushing and challenging myself out of my comfort zone to do it.
Lesson learned: getting out of your comfort zone could be the ride of your life. Just Ask!
Until next time … Cathy … The Amputee Coach
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