In 2011, a simple surgical procedure went wrong for Gaelyn Cokayne (now 28), leaving her with a partially paralysed left foot. As a result, Gaelyn needs to wear a leg brace whenever she wants to walk or run - a painful activity that she is determined to learn to deal with on her road to Ironman 70.3 in 2014!
I chatted to Gaelyn about her dream of completing Ironman 70.3:
Running the Race (RtR): Are there any obstacles that you have had to overcome or that you are still overcoming in order to be able to run? If yes, how do you overcome these obstacles?
Gaelyn Cokayne (GK): My biggest obstacle is definitely my disability. In 2011 a simple surgery went wrong and I was left 40% disabled, I have drop foot in my left leg. (Basically it is partially paralysed). I have to use a leg brace whenever I walk or run, and it has been quite a process getting one that actually fits and works correctly. I have finally found one that allows me to run really well (all things considered) and I am up to 4 km runs at the moment. One of the hardest things to deal with is the pain, which is hovering around me daily. Running hurts my foot, a lot. But I am determined to learn how to deal with that pain well enough to complete my Ironman!*
|Gaelyn completing a recent fun run. [Photo courtesy of Gaelyn Cokayne.]|
RtR: Where do you usually train?
GK: I run around my neighbourhood with our beautiful pit bull Zeus. I also run at my local Virgin Active on the treadmill, which I find easier than on the road. I would LOVE to run on the beach, but unfortunately I have to wear takkies with my brace, so it's not really practical.
|Gaelyn working out with her husband and pit bull, Zeus. [Picture courtesy of Gaelyn Cokayne.]|
RtR: Any tips for men and women out there who want to start running?
GK: I have had multiple surgeries, which have left me bed bound for months. I have had to relearn to walk, and drive and run. If you set your mind to something, just decide that you will not stop until you reach that goal! I have lost 35kg, I have learnt to walk and I am learning to run! I have set myself a BIG GOAL and I will not stop until the day that I reach it. Research as much as you can, learn as much as you can, and try every day to be the best you can be. Last but not least, believe in yourself and your abilities - believe that you deserve success!!
|Gaelyn, her husband, and her gorgeous stepdaughter. [Photo: Derryn Semple.]|
*Gaelyn has the blessing of her physician to be running and training for Ironman 70.3. Always get the go-ahead from a qualified physician before you embark on any physical training programme.
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Thanks so much, Gaelyn, for sharing your inspirational story. Wishing you all the best for your 70.3 journey - you can do this!