Running with Fibromyalgia – Just Keep Running

Running with FibromyalgiaI wake every morning in pain.

Some days it seriously chronic pain, some days it’s the type of chronic pain that used to depress but now has become part of everyday life. It’s hard to remember a day when aches of some sort weren’t with me.

A saving grace is that the medication I am now on has calmed down the headaches I used to suffer day after day.

The fatigue is the hardest part. That really hits and when it hits lasting the day is a task. A strange task that is really hard to explain.

And as a result, I’ll never be able to climb Mount Everest.

Err, sorry what was that brain?

I’ll never be able to climb Mount Everest now I have Fibromyalgia.

Yeah I thought that is what you said.

Coming to terms with being diagnosed with a syndrome I had never heard of before and that has no cure was rough. Coming to terms with the pain that was now part of everyday life was really rough and still is.

But coming to terms with all the things I can now longer do is the toughest.

The problem is these are all things I never wanted to do in the first place.

Give me something that limits me in some way and the brain goes into free fall.

“Well that is the swim across the channel knocked on the head”. It was never going to happen anyway; I don’t even like the water. I only learnt out to swim underwater 4 years ago.

But now suddenly I’d bloody love a stab at swimming the channel.

Sport has always been my thing; I played football until I simply couldn’t keep up anymore and now its running. I have to keep active, if I go too long without doing something sporty it gets to me and I have always been the same.

As I have got older my brain has started a really annoying habit – challenging me.

Whispering in my ear “I bet you couldn’t do that”, “I bet you couldn’t beat them” and so on. The trouble is it doesn’t know when to stop and of course now it has gone into over drive throwing up challenges I never wanted to do, never likely to do or had never even crossed my mind.

Here are just a few challenges I have mourned no longer being able to undertake since being diagnosed:

  • Cycling from Lands’ End to John O Groats  (I don’t even own a bike capable)
  • Breaking the world record for the longest football match
  • 50 marathons in 50 days
  • Taking part in an Ironman triathlon
  • Cycling to work every day (my bike still isn’t good enough)
  • …and on it goes

It’s insane.

Never mind the pain – I need my brain to shut it.

I had to give up Sunday league football but when watching a game on the TV I am still convinced I could do a job in the centre of the park. The reality being that nowadays my second touch would be a tackle.

I’m new to all this, I have always had symptoms but I didn’t start suffering “full time” until around 9 months ago, diagnosed 5 months ago. Going on everything I have read since I first heard the word Fibromyalgia and reading about the people suffering, I am “really” new to all this.

But the one thing that has come to head straight away is that no matter how much pain I am in, you can’t change a state of mind. I’m a competitive person, I am a sporty person. On the days when I am in so much pain I can’t even let my kids climb all over me, I am still gagging to go for a run. The reality on these days is I can hardly reach down to put my trainers on.

Suddenly my competitive brain has a new opponent, Fibromyalgia.

However this has led to a joining of allegiances me and my brain. It’s a strong team and it has had to be.

Even on good days the pain when I run is rough. It feels like I am running with really bad leg injuries. It feels like I shouldn’t be trying it at all. But not running simply isn’t an option.

Quite what I look like I have no idea. People have laughed as I have gone past. While being lost in a mix of trying to zone out to the music in my ears and beating the pain in my body I have a feeling I am running like a constipated old man. Of course in my mind I have perfect form, if anything the pros should be checking out how I get round my run, they could learn a thing of two.

I know everyone around me thinks I am nuts for continuing to run but it’s not as nuts as I would go if I didn’t continue to accommodate my brains challenges.

My thirst for having to be active I am sure has also led to some wondering if I am as “ill” as I say I am.

The answer is of course yes, it feels like hot knifes stabbing me when I run (if I am lucky). If I am unlucky then it feels like I can’t even bend my legs without them feeling like they are going to snap.

But I have to keep running. In my mind it keeps me going. For every run I complete I win back the part of my brain that has given in to this Fibro. If I can continue running I am not giving in. Beating pain has a bizarre satisfaction about it.

And that is my state of mind. The one you can’t change, the competitive one. Gone are the targets of beating personal best times. Simply being able to take part is the goal. Nothing will ever replace the belief in my head at the start of every race that says “if I get off to a good start I could put in a decent time” but that is just me and that is just my over active unrealistic brain that still thinks I have a chance of competing at the Olympics.

(I have Fibromyalgia, that’s a disability right, so could I compete in the Paralympics right? Brain that is a whole other blog post and yet another unrealistic challenge that I need to talk to you about before this goes too far)

Suffering is bad enough but if you can if you can find that balance that allows your brain to continue to allow you to be you it might just make it bearable.

14 comments

  1. Yes yes yes! I have begun the process of convincing myself I can do everyone this disease says I can’t! Gonna have pain regardless! It can’t take my mind, spirit and will to live!

    Thanks!

  2. I have only just now realized this after suffering for years! i don’t run but there are many other things this idea can apply to! I have for the last 6 months been winning against the pain! Its there but i am not letting it put me to bed anymore! Thanks for your story! Keep running!

  3. Very inspiring! My daughter is age 11 and was diagnosed with fibro in June 2012. She is a competitive cheerleader, has finished all her swim levels, and competes in horseback riding. Needless to say, fibro is not something we bargained for. She has improved immensely since June though, and the sports have been her saving grace, both physically and psychologically. Glad to have read your article as I only know a couple of people with fibro and they do not seem as if they were ever athletic, so it is hard to relate their experiences to my daughter’s.

  4. Inspirational. Keep writing and keep running – I don’t think you’re nuts, I think you’re doing a bloody good job dealing with this alongside a demanding job and a young family.

  5. Inspiring..I am 68 and started cycling..my husband can climb mountains and ride 200 miles in 2 days..but I am happy when I am on a bike and forget that I have Fibro..my 30 miles or so are MY miles. So what if I have to sleep when I am finished! Keep going and inspire others!

  6. Thank you so much for writting this, it displays the way I feel too. My running partners don’t undertsand what Fibro is, but on the day s I can’t keep up I stop and take in the fresh air instead. Good Luck and Keep on Running.

  7. I’ve only just found this, while specifically looking for info about running with fibromyalgia. I started going to the gym and running after being diagnosed, doing some research and finding that exercise is beneficial. I started off less than a year ago walking for a minute then running for a minute, using the NHS C25K program. Today I’ve just finished a hilly, muddy, scenic 10k race. I won’t get any awards for speed but I love it and I’m slowly improving. I do hurt a bit now but I’m happy. Keep at it, well done!

  8. So glad I found your blog – you have me laughing; and that’s important. I totally relate. I just completed my first marathon at 46; after years of thinking there was no way I would even run much anymore due to worsening fibro. But I can’t give up the freedom and at least some sense of control and “normalcy” I get from running, among many other things. On some days I feel like a bag of bones without padding, pounding the concrete; ouch ouch ouch. But I don’t want to back down. It seems I can do a lot more than my mind had told me I could do – I’m always wanting to see just how far (literally and metaphorically) I can go despite others telling me I can not. Thank you to the old women with fibro several years ago that told me I would just get worse and crippled and wouldn’t be able to do much at all by the time I was her age. That is not happening as far as I can see because I just had to spite her. Ha! Thanks, I am a fan already; keep writing.

  9. Great Article- and I agree you need to shut your brain off- however- don’t just assume you “can’t”. It is amazing what you “can” do with the proper support. I was diagnosed in 1993 and just started running a year ago. Have completed two 5k’s, and I am not athletic even when I feel well.
    I highly recommend “More than a Mountain” http://www.amazon.com/More-than-Mountain-Leap-Faith/dp/1481048465
    While these people did not have Fibro, they have MS and Parkinsons, and they all made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a very inspiring book, reminding us that “can” is still in our vocabulary.

  10. I feel exactly like you every day.
    I wake up in pain and i go to sleep in pain.
    I only have started doing trail running about 10 month ago.
    I managed to improve my fitness up to 11miles. This year 2014, I am planning to run a hilly half marathon. I might be the last runner arriving at the finishing line …but i don’t mind.
    I know on the racing day, that my painful fibromyalgia muscles will have worked as twice as hard then other runners.
    Just aim high! ;-)

  11. I have had fibromyalgia for 13 years but I always believed in healing. I have finally found a book called The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution by Dr Teitelbaum who says he had it partway through medical school. With help he found a solution and does not have it anymore. I also just met a lady recently who has also healed from fibromyalgia. I am now on supplements as suggested in Dr T’s book and I fully expect to kick this thing. I’m too young to live with fibro for the rest of my life, as I’m sure you are. I hope you investigate this resource and dare to believe. I am.
    Sincerely,
    Christina

  12. I was diagnosed with fibermyalgia a year ago at age 26. I have had it since probably about age 21 but nobody knew how to diagnose me. I had my daughter about the time I got diagnosed with fiber and decided that I will not let this disease effect the way I raise my daughter. She will not see my suffer. I lost about 60 pounds by changing my diet and I starting running. Running hurt but I did it because it hurt in a good way. I got flare ups every once and awhile but I kept running. I did it for me, I did it for my daughter, and I did it because I wasn’t going to let fiber beat me. Almost exactly one year ago I signed up to run the twin cities marathon. 26.2 miles! I trained for a year. I had a few bad flare ups that made me want to give up. My family and friends convinced me to stick with it. I ran the marathon yesterday. I had a goal time of 5 hours. I finished in 4 hours and 26 minutes! I am hurting today…a lot. But I did it, and I did it with fiber! And although I will probably never run another marathon again because it did take a toll in my body, I WILL NOT STOP RUNNING! I actually think running helps with my fiber pains. I am also a walking mail lady so I walk over 7 miles a day carrying a 20 pound bag.

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