Guest blogger, Dan Chalcraft, from Canada talks about how running has changed his life…

Why run?

I like to run because it is a good form of exercise and I enjoy being outdoors. I run frequently which is three to four times a week and longer runs on the weekends especially if I am training for an event.

I ran because I had never participated in a half marathon before and thought, why not run? It is something I enjoy doing and why not do it to really push your limits. I ran three to four times a week with some of those sessions being with the Running Room. In addition, I participated in a running clinic which was every Tuesday where each session focused on an aspect of training and then we’d go for a short run. Just like being part of the cerebral palsy (CP) community, you are part of an extended family with your running group.

A goal

It is good to have people there who are working towards the same goal and there to motivate you to achieve a great time in the race not just finish it. Although my cerebral palsy affects the left side of my body impacting my left hand and leg, that doesn’t affect me from being able to run and run quick.

My time for my first half marathon (the Scotiabank Charity Challenge) was 2:09 and for my age category it was in the lower section of finishers, but that just means I need to run faster this year to improve my time and train harder. Despite the goal of trying to improve my time, I didn’t participate in the half marathon this year due to a strained Achilles tendon injury; instead I walked the 5 km course while raising money for cerebral palsy.

I think that it shows people regardless of the severity of your CP, you can achieve anything. I can drive, run a half marathon and despite the fact that I have never been in a relationship; it gives me hope that others like me such as RJ Mitte and Nicholas Hamilton have girlfriends so why can’t I. I would like to have a wife, family, house and be able to provide for my family by having a well-paying job. I am certainly on the right path.

Discovering your strengths

Another community I am a part of is the disability community. I work at the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia. I like working at the Association since it is giving back to the disability community and it is showcasing people’s abilities with CP that can really open others’ minds and demonstrate what they are capable of. Everyone with CP has strengths; it is just about unlocking that potential. The Association has helped me tremendously since it’s provided an outlet for me to express myself.

This World CP Day, I want to share my story to inspire others to enjoy their quality of life, join communities and use their voice to be part of a change and greater awareness. I want to keep participating in running a Half Marathon and aim to run in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge next spring. I want to start running and training early and take extra work to hit my goal of 1:50. Getting back into the rhythm of running will be tough, but I am up for the challenge. Do the best with what you have, keep a positive attitude and a smile on your face.

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