Why I ran four marathons in four days

I did it. Four marathons in four days around the coastline of Ibiza, three years after having my life blown to pieces by a serious brain injury. If I am honest, it was far tougher than I had expected, and if I had been fully aware of how demanding each of the four marathon courses were going to I planned the challenge, I probably wouldn't have taken it up.

However, I did it. The aim was always to inspire people who suffer serious brain injuries and to show what can still be achieved. Giving up was not an option. I wouldn't let the people down who were following my progress, and I wasn't going to let myself down either.

My body might have been battered and my muscles and joints still aching, but I have not for one second forgotten the motivation for putting myself through pain in the blazing Ibiza sun.

Finally relaxing on a lounger and with a drink in my hand, the time came to reflect - not just on a week in which I had run around the entire coast of the island - but on how far I had come in the last three years.

My life was 'blown to pieces' when I suffered a life-threatening brain haemorrhage, caused when I fell backwards and hit my head on a ceramic floor, when I was the victim of an unprovoked attack. It left my life hanging in the balance. I spent five days in and out of consciousness and repeatedly suffered seizures on a high dependency ward in hospital. Doctors said I was lucky to be alive.

When I returned home to my loved ones in Hull, life was far from returning to normal, and it was only then that I and those closest to me, started to realise that a much bigger battle had only just begun.

Nothing could prepare me or my family for the battle of brain recovery. I was home, but it was a real struggle and I had to be cared for by my family and friends. I faced a two- to three-year road to recovery, but was told I would never be the same again.

There would be lasting brain damage, but to what extent they didn't know. That was hugely difficult accept or understand, and part of my identity was lost that day. I didn't know who I was, or who I would be. I have thankfully come a long way since, but it's a long, hard road to walk.

The best way to describe it is to imagine a jigsaw puzzle that is your life, then imagine it all going up into the air and you having to rebuild it. That's what it has been like for me, and that's why I am working hard to support others who find their lives blown apart.

I recently established my own charity - My Brain Recovery - and I've already helped many not only in the UK, but internationally, by charting a timeline of my own recovery, and the difficulties myself and my family faced, on the site.

A number of fundraising efforts have helped me raise £30,000 for the Neurology Ward at Hull Royal Infirmary, and now I am focusing on his long-term goal, to open a walk-in centre for people with brain injuries in his home city of Hull.

It was that goal which provided the motivation behind my Ibiza challenge, and I hope the story of my success - which were reported upon both in the UK and Ibiza during May's Action For Brain Injury Week - will provide inspiration and hope to those who find themselves in the same situation I did.

If you'd told me three years ago I'd be running four marathons in four days, in the heat of Ibiza, I would never have thought it possible. I can remember four or five months after my injury sitting at home in a daze. I was stuck in a bit of a hole and I knew I had to do something, so I did three squats, three press-ups and three sit-ups. I can remember it feeling good. It was a big step forward. It was a positive moment for me.

It is tough road to recovery. You can rebuild your life, you just need to be patient, you need to stay positive, and you need support, as do all of the people around you.

I want people who find themselves in a similar situation to me to be able to look at what I have done, and where I am now, and feel there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can get better, but you have to stay positive.

Staying positive was tough at times in Ibiza. Strength also comes from those around you. I have to thank my support team for motivating me and being behind me every step of the way over the challenge. I couldn't have done it without them.

The support of people around you, who understand what you are going through and want to help you come out the other side, makes a huge difference. They keep you motivated, positive and focussed on your end goal.

The approach is 'can and do that bit better'. That's what carried me through my journey over the past three years, and through those final two marathons.

I'm now focusing on my next goal, to open my own support centre, where people who suffer a serious brain injury can access support throughout their journey towards recovery. I've also agreed to become an ambassador for personal injury specialists Neil Hudgell Solicitors, where I will offer their clients extra support as they look to overcome the same challenges and difficulties I did.

One of the lasting effects of my injury has been my struggle to truly understand deeply things that happen. Despite all the planning, training and preparation for the trip, it only hit me half way through the second marathon just how monumental it was to be doing it just three years after my injury.

It was as though it suddenly hit me as to how far I have come, and how lucky I am to be in the health I am now. I do feel a sense of great pride and achievement. The whole aim of this was to show how far I have come over the past three years, and to raise awareness of my charity. It was certainly worth it.


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