When I’m participating in an event alongside wheelchair athletes, I think about all the obstacles and challenges they have had to overcome to be able to participate; and I recognise, I don’t even know the half of it! Being involved with The BackUp charity has allowed me to meet some very inspirational people!
Melanie was a cyclist, and after a life-changing accident, she quickly set a goal…80 miles in 3 days with her newfound wheelchair skills!
“As a PE teacher, fitness and sport have always been a huge part of me. From playing football every Saturday, venturing up hills with the dog to booking in to spin at 6am before work — it was big on my mind. In 2018, the ground was stripped from under my feet after being hit by a car whilst out cycling. I suffered several severe injuries, but the most life-changing was the damage to my spinal cord leaving me with paralysis from the waist down.
I had to wait patiently to get a metal fixation off of my lower leg and then I spent 7 months in rehab, learning to live independently again before returning home to gain some kind of normality. Basically, I wasted no time, I wanted to start being active again – during the 7 months, my focus was on sport and what I could get involved in now as a full-time wheelchair user. I kind of wanted to prove to myself that the wheelchair wouldn’t stop me. I wanted to do something different & totally out of comfort zone. I had also been away skiing with Back-Up http://www.backuptrust.org.uk an incredible organisation that supports everyone and anyone through life with a spinal cord injury and was motivated by all the amazing things they do for people.
A challenge gives you purpose…so I decided to set myself one. It presents you with a feeling of achievement. It overwhelms you with nerves and excitement. And although paralysis had presented with the biggest challenge of my life through no choice of my own, I had to prove to myself I was still capable of big things. My challenge: 3 marathons in 3 days. Why? Because one was not enough!. I took on 80 miles through Scotland in my wheelchair. Two of the days I covered the mileage with lots of friends and family and completed the Great Stirling Run for my 3rd day in sight of raising funds for BackUp.
I have now started wheelchair racing and I am training full time with a coach. I am starting a sport that’s completely new to me, so ultimately I know that I have to be committed to the training. I think everyone always has days where they feel tired or unmotivated. Sleep and nutrition is a massive one for me and having habits that make eating well easy. When I can’t be bothered I think of my goals, what do I want to achieve, remind myself why I am doing it and looking forward to where it takes me. I also have taken my accident as an opportunity to achieve great things so I am not lacking any motivation at the moment!
My advice when anyone that asks me where to find motivation, I say set yourself a goal. No matter how small or great, give yourself something to achieve in order to make the hard work meaningful!
Have you been inspired by Melanie’s story? Are you an athlete facing a similar challenge? We would love to hear from you!