Philip Shelley Doesn’t Let Cerebral Palsy Keep Him from Running

Philip Shelley has every reason in the world to say that running isn’t right for him, and none of us would fault him in the slightest.

That said, he recently finished his first marathon and isn’t planning on slowing down any time soon!

Philip Shelley, After His First Marathon

Philip Shelley, After His First Marathon

Getting Into Running, Despite the Obstacles

Phil has lived his life with cerebral palsy. Even though he has what is classified as a “mild case”, he is still legally blind in his left eye, has limited use of his left arm/hand, and his left leg is shorter than his right leg.

Yet he won’t use his difficulties as a crutch or an excuse to avoid being active and running races.

In fact, to hear him tell it, the only reason he didn’t get into running earlier in his life was simply that he didn’t like running!

However, several of his family members had been getting into running recently so he decided to give it a shot.

And the rest is pretty much history!

He started with a 5k (and that first 5k is still his PR!), and has continued to bump up the mileage over the last couple of years, culminating with running the Garmin marathon in early 2016.

How Running Has Impacted Philip Shelley’s Life

Since Phil started running, he’s really noticed some changes in how he feels overall.

He’s lost weight and has more energy, which I think most of us have experienced as we’ve gotten into running.

He simply focuses on continuing to move forward, one step at a time, especially when it comes to overcoming challenges.

When I asked Phil about the challenges he’s experienced and overcome as a runner, his cerebral palsy wasn’t something he’s really even viewed as a challenge.

Instead, he talked about the mental struggle and the challenge of continuing to push himself beyond his comfort zone. And he’s found that the more he’s pushed himself (mentally and physically), the easier the things that used to be a challenge have become.

Deciding to Run a Marathon

Like it is/was for most of us, deciding to take the plunge into running a marathon is something that was exciting and scary for Phil.

Early in the process, he decided to go with the run-walk-run method to get him to the finish line, but that wasn’t an easy decision.

He had to accept mentally that there was nothing wrong with stopping to walk at a regular interval, even though he had trained for his previous half marathons to run them straight through.

However, he stuck with the plan, swallowed his pride, and prepped for the race.

And as you can see in the video below, he made it to the finish line!

Getting Through the Rough Patch

As any distance runner knows, there are rough patches along the way, both in training and in races.

And as Phil mentioned earlier in our chat, as he has run the mental challenges continue to be one of his biggest hurdles.

During his marathon, his sister-in-law (who is also a runner) came to support him and cheer him on.

When things got tough, Phil kept remembering that Dawn said she’d meet him at a certain point, and he knew if I could get to that point (in the mile 23-24 area) he’d be able to make it to the finish.

Having that support was so important to Phil during that race, and as I was listening to him share that part of his story you could hear the emotion and the appreciation that he had for her being there for him that day.

It was a reminder to me of just how important it is for us to have our own support systems in place, but also to be willing to offer that support to others.

Running Teaches Phil That There’s No Limit to What He Can Do

Running 26.2 miles is difficult, clearly.

But it’s doable.

Phil talked about how there are some limitations he has because of his cerebral palsy, and there are some things that he simply can’t do.

But that list isn’t as big as some of us might think.

And over the past few years of Phil’s running life, he’s learned that there really are no limits to what he can accomplish.

As long as he keeps moving forward, keeps taking one step at a time, the things that he would really like to accomplish are certainly within his reach.

Philip Shelley Keeps Putting One Foot in Front of the Other!

Philip Shelley Keeps Putting One Foot in Front of the Other!

If you haven’t already connected with Phil, check out his website and/or say hi to him on Twitter!

As Always, I’d Love to Know What Stood Out to You From this Episode! Let Me Know Your Takeaway in the Comments Below!

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2 replies
  1. Stephanie L Wattenbarger
    Stephanie L Wattenbarger says:

    Stand out for me is kind of what you said-“To get out of our own way.” I love that Philip doesn’t “consider himself disabled.” He has proven that he is “more than able” to do whatever he sets his mind to do. The only limitation is what we put on ourselves.


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