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If you’ve ever wondered if you could finish a marathon, take some inspiration from Helen Carrol. From being told by doctors she may never walk again, to preparing to complete marathon no. 10 with Sports Tours – Helen’s story is testament to the idea that anyone can run 26.2 miles.
Helen, tell us more about your injury history and how that inspired you to start running.
My hip is an ongoing injury for me. I had a hip arthroscopy, and the procedure didn’t go well at all. I had lost the use of my right leg completely; the Doctors wouldn’t tell me if I’d ever walk again! When I had started to lose hope, I went to an amazing physio where I slowly began to teach myself how to walk again.
As a result, the physio said a good thing to do was run every day to gain strength back into my muscles as they were firing all different ways. One thing led to another, and I ran the London Marathon in April 2016. That’s when I became so hooked on running and my focus turned to running the New York Marathon as it’s the biggest World Marathon Major.
How have you gone about managing your body and injuries while training?
I alter what I do exercise wise. I can run marathons, but I need to train differently because I can’t put too much stress on my hip. Whereas people normally do months and months of training, I probably only manage about 10-11 weeks from start to finish before the race.
When I stood on the start line of the New York Marathon last year, I don’t even know if I could finish. I hadn’t run for more than 60 minutes but it went so well. It was the most surreal thing, and the support carries you to the finish. The overall excitement of running through the famous streets and boroughs of NYC kept me determined.
What advice would you give someone who is worried their body might not cope with the demands of training for a marathon?
Anyone who ever gets an injury worries about whether they’re ever going to be good enough or able enough. Just do it. Because there’s always someone that will be there running with you. The atmosphere, and the achievement you feel when you’ve crossed that finish line, it’s just amazing. You know you’ve done something incredible. Any injury you can train for, you just need to find the right training plan. I also joined a lot of running communities online, it’s so friendly and helpful and I found out I wasn’t the only runner managing a similar injury.
You were asked to be part of the New York Marathon Opening Ceremony in 2022, taking part in the Parade of Nations. Tell us more about that.
The Parade of Nations is an opening ceremony in New York City that celebrates diversity with a colourful parade of flag-bearing community members. It is an amazing celebration of unity and culture of people from over 125 countries. It’s like a mini opening ceremony at the Olympics. Everyone’s shouting and screaming and celebrating and there’s a massive fireworks display. It truly shows how much a marathon connects people from all around the world.
You could join Helen on the start line at the Chicago Marathon this October. Find out more about our event packages including guaranteed entry here.
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