After giving birth Lindsey Richards suffered a life-threatening stroke and was told she might never walk again. Seven weeks later, she ran a 10K race…
Ever seen those packs of fit mamas doing bootcamps in the Botanic Gardens or grabbing a coffee after their daily F45 sweat sesh? Ever seen them and rolled your eyes and been like, “NOPE!”? That used to be Lindsey Richards, a 32-year-old American mama who moved to Singapore six years ago shortly after the birth of her first child. But there was something about parenthood that made her give running a second look. Fast forward six years, and she’s running marathons in under four hours (and often training with her three kiddos in tow).
This Saturday Lindsey will be competing in the OSIM Sundown Marathon at the F1 Pit, but it’s basically miraculous that she’ll be doing so. Just a little over a year ago, right after giving birth, she suffered an epileptic seizure and had a stroke. Doctors told her she might never walk again, but then here she is!
Read on for Lindsey’s inspiring story, her thoughts on overcoming obstacles, and her advice for other mamas thinking about getting into running…
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your kids?
I’m from the United States – right outside of Savannah, Georgia in a small town called Guyton. I liked growing up there because it was quaint and everyone knew you. But as I got older, it seemed extremely small and the world seemed far too big. I met my husband in 2012 and we married in 2013. We had our first son, Colton Greigh, later that year. I think post-pregnancy hormones got the best of me because as I was sitting at home with the baby watching House Hunters International on HGTV I remember messaging my husband and saying, “I want to move.” I don’t think I realized how far. So 5 months later, off we went to a place I knew next to nothing about – Singapore.
How long have you lived in Singapore for?
We were only supposed to be here for three years. But it has been six years now. Over time, we’ve added two other special little ones to our family; Seylor Kaiye who is currently three years old, and Mccaiden Jaymes who just turned one.
When did you start getting into running? Was it before or after you moved to Singapore?
Before moving to Singapore, I used to laugh at moms running with their BOB Strollers to Yoga or Pilates class. Not anymore. I get you, mamas.
I dabbled in running before having kids. I put on running gear to “look” like a runner. Now, running is my freedom. I love my babies. I don’t have work outside of home, so they’re my life – literally. But sometimes I need a break from all the crying and whining and the picking up of Lego pieces or changing of Barbie clothes. So I run. It’s the one thing that I make sure that I do for myself. Honestly if I don’t make sure to do this special thing for myself, everyone suffers! It has taken me a long time to accept that but it is the truth.
I started getting really serious about running about 22 months ago. I began to compete at a competitive level 12 months ago when I hired my online coach, Run4PRs from the US. They have been training me for a year now. What changed my mindset was when I got pregnant with my son Mccaiden. I wanted to have the healthiest pregnancy that I’ve had yet. So I began to run. My OBGYN was fully aware and gave his approval every step of the way.
Read more: All about exercise during pregnancy
I had a healthy pregnancy. I ran the full 42 weeks that I was pregnant with my son. I ran 6 races that pregnancy, including the Standard Chartered Half Marathon, which is still one of my favourite racing memories. I had an incredible planned C-section with an amazing recovery. I was up and running to the exact date within 4 weeks of my son’s delivery.
Can you talk us through the health challenges that threatened your running? How did you overcome these?
I did have some setbacks; six days after my son was born I found myself back in the hospital with a heart rate of 22. My blood pressure was dropping and rising all over the place and my eyes were seeing auras. My body went into an attack for the first time on the ER table. I had an epileptic seizure.
When they took me back for an MRI and a CT scan my body had a stroke in the scan. I will never forget the doctors standing over me with the bright lights as I woke up. They were there telling me that I would never be allowed to be left alone with my children again; at the time they were four, two, and six days old. One doctor told me, “You’re going to go through six months of physical therapy, you’re not going to be able to run again, you will be lucky if you can stand alone and walk.”
I just lay there as the tears rolled down my face. Hours ago I was holding this precious baby in my arms and now I’m being told I will never be allowed to be left alone with him and I’m on the other side of the world from my family?!
I stayed there for four days. Every day I told myself, not today. I will do this. Seven weeks later I ran the Sundown Marathon 10km. I went on to run two marathons in 2018, one with a time of 3:55:46. I achieved a Personal Record in every race that I set out to run last year. I turned a negative outcome into positive belief because I refused to give up.
Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can or you think you cannot, you are right.”
Which is why I am taking part in this year’s OSIM Sundown Marathon, happening in June. With epilepsy, running at night is a massive challenge, hence this marathon is going to be a huge accomplishment for me.
What tips do you have for other mamas who are keen to get into running but daunted by physical and time commitments?
My advice for new moms out there is if you want to get physically active, don’t feel guilty about making the time. It may be difficult at firs,t but everyone will adjust and everyone will benefit from it.
What lessons do you hope to teach your children through your running?
I still have the same epileptic issues daily, but I don’t give up. I want my kids to see that their mom fights for them, that my love is so big for them, that life is worth fighting for, that it can be scary but it’s ok.
I hope that none of you will ever stop giving up on your dreams or fight within you.
Want to cheer on Lindsey in person? Catch her at the OSIM Sundown Marathon this Saturday 1 June from 8pm at the F1 Pit Building (the Marathon starts at 11:30pm)!