Tobias French, 29, was born a double below knee amputee. That means both his legs stop right below the knee and he’s missing both feet and fibula, with a deformed tibia.
He refuses to let that hold him back from running, and regularly smashes out Tough Mudder races.
That’s despite the challenges being an amputee presents: pain, adjustments to workouts, and requiring specialised running blades in place of feet.
Through hard work and determination, Toby wants to show his son – and everyone else – that he can overcome any challenge.
(Picture: Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)Toby’s fitness journey began last year, when his wife gave him the gift of a personal trainer, knowing her husband wanted to drop some extra weight.
‘One session and I was hooked,’ Toby, who works in security and volunteers for the local BARB search and rescue team, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘The feeling after was just so freeing, I knew I needed to carry on and do more.’
(Picture: Courtesy of Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)He began regularly working out with his trainer and doing adapted exercise, but struggled to use the prosthetic legs he’d had for years. They weren’t designed for long-distance running, leaving the stump of his legs red raw and sore.
So Toby asked for help. He created a JustGiving page to raise the money he needed for running blades, and ended up receiving £1,320 towards the cost.
Once he had those blades, Toby could really fall in love with running.
He started with Chepstow Inflatable 5K, nervous but exhilarated once he finished. Then he did another 5K. And another.
He started taking part in tricky Tough Mudder courses; longer runs combined with obstacles of climbing over wooden blocks and crawling through the mud.
(Picture: Courtesy of Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)None of his journey was easy, and he’s still just getting started.
Toby tells us: ‘Growing up I was always told I can be and do anything if I put my mind and heart into it. That mindset has mostly stuck.
‘There have been extremely low moments and a constant battle with depression. Every day is completely different. Most days the pain is so little but other days it’s horrible and the rare occasion it makes me unable to wear prosthetics (perfect for Netflix catch-up).
(Picture: Courtesy of Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)‘Physically I am able to do so much more and push so much harder than when I started. Before I struggled to do a lot without being out of breath.
‘Mentally, it makes me feel so much happier. Every personal best I beat, even if it’s by one second or lifting 0.5kg heavier, I feel… I can’t even explain how good it feels. Best feeling ever.’
Each Saturday Toby straps on his running blades and does a Park Run. On Tuesdays he does a personal training session, on Wednesdays it’s search and rescue training, and throughout the week he’ll spend time working out with his wife and son.
He keeps going back to Tough Mudder, getting a real thrill from the challenge.
(Picture: Courtesy of Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)‘I absolutely love how everyone there knows it’s not a race but a challenge,’ says Toby. ‘[I love] the fact a lot of people there don’t know each other but will help anyone struggling regardless of their ability levels, and the feeling when you get the head band, T-shirt and a victory beer at the finish with your team.’
Toby now shares his experiences on Instagram to show others all they’re capable of doing, and give people the motivation to take that first step.
He hopes to keep running and get even fitter, so he can raise money for charities and inspire more people.
‘[I want to] help motivate other people into believing they can do more and be more active even with disabilities,’ says Toby.
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