Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

I’ve been determined lately to find ways to get back into long distance running. I know it’s not something that will happen over night but I do want to at least try. In the process I vow to listen to my body and not push myself into sickness. I will be patient with myself because I do believe that running is still good for me.

In an article I read on LiveStrong they described the benefits of running for people with Crohns…

“A 2006 study in the “Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology” by N. Narula and colleague showed that exercise may decrease Crohn’s activity and reduce psychological stress.

Crohn’s patients are at increased risk for osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise like running can help build bone density and prevent osteoporosis.”

I’ve bulleted some tips I’m trying to stick to as I build myself back up to a long distance runner. This is just what I have learned from a little research and trial and error on my part. In no way am I saying it is what every runner who has Crohns should do. If anything, the thing I’ve learned the most about Crohns is how different each body is effected by the disease and how what works to tame it for one person can set someone else off into a furry of inflammation. So here is my list, for me, and you if you choose to give it a shot.

  • Have a solid basis of 3 to 4 mile runs then very slowly work mileage back up. I’m planning to do this for at least a month.
  • Don’t push your body past the point of no return. Listen to your body! If you feel things going south slow down or stop altogether. There’s no point in making yourself sick just to say you finished your goal time or mileage on that certain day. Some days are going to be better than others.
  • If you are going to try to go on a long run, make sure you know of places you can stop to go to the bathroom. The last thing you need is to be miles out, start to feel like you have to poo, and not have anywhere to go. The stress of that will make you have to go even worse!
  • Crohns already causes the body to sometimes suffer from dehydration. Going for runs speeds up dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and while running.

I’ve been trying really hard to stay hydrated lately and I think it’s been working. I ran 3.25 miles with a friend a few days ago and felt amazing the entire time and even after! Yesterday I ran hills with my little bro and actually survived! I will admit that at the steepest parts of the hill I did feel like I was going to poop my pants (don’t worry I didn’t). Brandon wisely pointed out though that the hill was so steep that at some points we were in a squatting position, pushing as hard as we could to make it to the top. Also remarkably similar to the position you take on the toilet to go poo. This made me feel better 🙂

So yes, I think the key right now is hydrate, hydrate and hydrate! Today I took the day off to relax (also a key point I think) but tomorrow I will wake up with my crazy brother at 5:30am to do P90X yoga and hills again later. I must say it’s nice to have my little bro back from Colorado. It gives me someone who gets my butt up in the early morning to work out. And I just love his company 🙂 

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Best times with my brother 🙂

Am I Still a Runner?

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It seems in my body Crohns has declared a hatred for long distance running. I’m not on board with this discrimination against distance running one bit. In fact, I’m quite upset with Crohns for making this choice without my consent.

I’m a long distance runner. That is one of the ways I define myself. I’m one of those crazy people who enjoy lacing up my sneakers and hitting the pavement for 13 miles. I might complain before I head out for a run but once I’m in my zone there is nowhere I’d rather be. It’s my thing, it’s what I do, and I’m proud of all the training I have done over the years that enabled me to run two marathons and many half marathons.

In walks Crohns and it seems my long distance running days are over. I’m not exactly sure why but it seems my body can no longer keep up with my desire to run over four miles. My doctors advised that I keep the running to a minimum for a while to give my body a rest.

Anything fewer than four miles I seem to still rock. By keeping my distances low, I was even able to get my average pace time down! A few weekends ago I was signed up to run the Harpoon Brewery 5 Mile Race. (Awesome race by the way if you live in the Boston area. I highly recommend it!) I did a pre race 5 miles to make sure I could even still run that far. I killed it with a personal best! About an hour or so after running though my body seemed to shut down. My stomach was cramping and I couldn’t stop going to the bathroom… although sometimes I felt like I had to go but wasn’t able to, which was far worse in my opinion. I thought it was just a fluke and ran the race hard two days later. I had a great race time but again, a few hours after running, I was hitting the bathroom and on the couch with stomach pains and bathroom runs for the rest of the night.

I’m on the hunt for more information regarding Crohns disease and running and if there is any link between the two. I’ve realized I also need to come to terms with although I might not be able to run another marathon; I am still a runner. I can still lace up my shoes and hit the pavement every week. I can focus instead on running faster shorter distances to feel accomplished. I might not be the same type of runner I was in the past, but I’m still a runner.

And there are a ton of 5k races out in the Boston area that are a lot of fun. Some are even free, like the Startups Stay Fit! Free monthly 5k run/walks in the Innovation District.  {Cambridge} 5k has a couple of great races coming up too. A SASQUATCH Trail Race on July 15th (I’ve never done a trail race so I’m excited about this one!) and their 5k Oktoberfest. I did their Yulefest race this past winter which was a lot of fun so I’m sure these will be just as great! See… still many options and ways to have fun and stay a runner!

PS – Why does Word always red scribble underline Crohns? It makes me second guess that I’m spelling it correctly every time!

Almost at the finish line of the Harpoon 5k 🙂

Discovering Crohns

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For years I knew something was up with my intestines. I’d have periods of time where I couldn’t stop going to the bathroom. I figured it was stress and probably some type of IBS problem. Around October 2010, blood started to appear in my stool and I was going so often that I stopped eating because I couldn’t handle going to the bathroom one more time throughout the day. I used to often joke with a friend of mine about our frequent bathroom issues, but this time the problem seemed to large to joke about. I decided I finally needed to put my pride at bay and head to the doctors, even if they asked me to go number two in a cup.

And number two in a cup I did. The doctors determined I had some type of rare bacteria and put me on a heavy dose of antibiotics for a month. What they didn’t tell me was that the symptoms would also take at least a month to clear up. Great…. I was scheduled to go on vacation with my then fairly new boyfriend’s family, all sharing a hotel room. There would be no hiding of my GI problems.

I survived the trip and eventually my symptoms cleared up. Throughout the next year I struggled with periods of uncontrollable bathroom urges. I figured it was just all the stress I was under. I was a full time graduate student at Emerson College, working full time as a marketing director at a Boys & Girls Club and training for the Boston Marathon. I mean, it seemed typical that the amount of activities I was forcing my body to endure would cause a little IBS to rare it’s evil head and besides the symptoms always seemed to eventually clear up on their own.

By January 2012 I had become accustomed to living a life never knowing when my next bathroom urge would hit. The symptoms had seemed to progress though and were really interfering with my Disney Marathon training. The amount of blood I had in my stool was unnerving and the stomach cramps were intense. I had also developed pain on my tailbone that made sitting for long periods of time impossible. I couldn’t recall falling on it and long gone were my college nights of forgetful drinking. I was puzzled and after awhile convinced I had a tumor in my tailbone (dramatic, yes I know…). So again I went back to the doctor and this time they were concerned I had runner’s colitis, ulcerative colitis or worst case Crohns disease.

I was scheduled for a colonoscopy, which my boyfriend took me too. The procedure revealed I had ulcers in both my small and large intestines. Ry was lucky enough to see the picture of these ulcers and quickly told me after the procedure that he had seen the inside of my colon…awesome…

I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis but after some more blood work and doctors appointments the diagnosis turned to Crohns. I was put on Canasa which Ry wonderfully named “your butt medicine.” I almost died when I picked up the prescription at CVS and read “insert 1 suppository into rectum every night.” I was so embarrassed about having to have a suppository medication, but as always Ry reminded me if you can’t laugh about whatever situation life has thrown at you than what’s the point. I had a few more unpleasant scares with weird rashes and an outburst of canker sores/ulcers in my mouth (which I handled equally as dramatic as my self diagnosis tailbone cancer), but eventually I believe I have beaten this first flare-up!

I decided I wasn’t going to be embarrassed about my disease and the uncomfortable symptoms it causes.  During my first diagnosed flare-up I chose to stop covering up when I had to go to the bathroom all the time and instead simply call it out as it was…. Yes I have to use the bathroom again! Yes my stomach is cramping so bad and I just want to lay down forever! Yes my stomach is making extremely loud noises because I have intense gas cramps… and right now there is nothing I can do about it but be honest.  I realized the more open I was about my condition the easier it made it for me to live with each day. I also realized people seemed relieved to find someone who was so open to talk about their daily bathroom battles and would confide in me about their own bathroom worries.

I also realize I’m lucky compared to most who have Crohns because I do believe I have a mild case of it. As mild as it is, it is still altering my life, in both good and bad ways. I’ve decided I wanted to share my new journey as a person living with Crohns but also a new found vegan, runner, marketing enthusiast and writer. I have wanted to start a blog for a long time but could never seem to stick with it. I felt I didn’t have a topic that I could consistently write about. So, thank you Crohns, for finally giving me the push to start blogging.

I found this comic at a site called The Crohns Awareness Project. They had a few other ones that were pretty funny 🙂