Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Running with Auto Immune Disease

“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” – Arthur Blank

I have been bitten by the running bug.  I think that it is pretty official that I am now a runner.  I never thought that I would be able to say that.  I was talking with a runner friend of mine, Becky, this past weekend and as we were talking a number of things she said have just stuck with me.  I have been chewing on her words and really reflecting about myself. 

We had began talking about how I had been bitten by the running bug and she mentioned how awesome it is when people, for whatever reason, begin running and it become such an important part of their lives.  I immediately agreed.  Something that started, for me, as just trying to get back into decent shape has turned into more than a hobby.  Running is apart of me.  I analyzed myself a bit and I believe that I have taken running, grabbing onto it because it is a small way for me to take back control over my heath.  Much of my health life is out of my control.  I never know when I will have another Lupus or Crohn's flare.  I never know, with my repressed immune system, when a small injury will turn into a bad infection or a cold into a terrible upper respiratory infection.  I have minimal control over these health issues.  Lately, however, I have felt strong.  Healthy.  Hopeful.  Running has given me back those things that I had lost along the way these past 11 years.

I am not a fast runner.  I am actually rather slow.  I am okay with that though!  I probably will never run faster than a 10 minute mile.  That just sounded like I actually run a 10 minute mile.  I don't, by quite a bit.  I will never say never but I just don't think that running fast is in the cards for me.  Accepting this has been a process.  While now I am okay with my turtle pace I have often been sensitive about how slow I was compared to my other runner friends.  It took a lot of self reflection for me to get that running is personal.  I am doing it for me and need to only look at myself and not others.  My pace and distance our MY goals.  What is that saying?  Comparison is the thief of joy.  Truth that I need to remember.

While I was talking to Becky I mentioned how there really is no information out there about someone like me running or any type of regular exercise.  Most information is vague and the message boards are generally filled with people who are flaring and can't even imagine walking around the block.  Everything that I am doing for my training is trial and error.  I told Becky that I had been keeping a journal about my training.  I wanted to be able to look back on my journey to this half marathon.  She encouraged me to maybe blog about it.  That maybe there are others out there like me looking for information and encouragement.  I have been thinking about this a lot.  I think that I will begin blogging about my running.  Not only would it give others a better understanding of my journey but it is possible that there is another 30-something mom with auto immune issues out there looking for some encouragement or at least wants to see what someone else has done.  The reality is that I don't just go out and run.  I have a running schedule that is firmly in place due to my medications.   I can't just run on a Tuesday instead of a Monday.  I take my chemo medication on Monday night so I am shot all day Tuesday.  I have to do a long run either on a Sunday or a Monday because of the chemo.  My body is too tired to bust out 9, 10 or 11 miles until a lot of the chemo has worked out of my body.  I have to have a day of rest in between each run or work out.  I need to stay hydrated more than other runners.  The amount of medication in my body and how easily I tire means that I need to be eating well and drinking properly.  Eating and drinking well are both issues that all runners are mindful of but I especially need to be. 

All that being said, I can no longer imagine my life with out running.  It is apart of who I am now and I am so grateful.  Being able to run is a gift and I am not going to waste it.


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