It’s Not Going To Be Easy

Returning to running after seven months of being sick and sedentary hasn’t been easy.

There have been some amazing moments, absolutely. But it’s so hard. Running is hard.

My body is recovering, but it’s still weak and tired — not to mention carrying significantly more weight than it’s used to. My muscles have all but disappeared and my stride is all over the place. My thighs chafe, my under-armpit-area skin hangs out over my sports bras and my breathing becomes heavy (and embarrassingly loud) at the slightest uphill.

Those first few runs back, exciting as they were, were the toughest.

The long road ahead... ("No I don't want you to buy me a purse! It's a metaphor, daddy!")
The long road ahead… (“No I don’t want you to buy me a purse! It’s a metaphor, daddy!”)

I expected to come back somehow not having lost any of my speed, endurance or overall fitness.

I was so, so wrong.

I’d maintained nothing.

And so I had to start my comeback essentially from zero.

During those tough runs, I’d find myself frustrated, fully aware that what was once a run was now a very labored jog. More than once I ended up on the verge of tears, silently cursing Crohn’s disease and saying to myself, “I just want it to be easy.”

After months of fighting my body, I just want to move forward and I want it to be easy.

I will never forget the first time I re-ran the entire way around the 1.57-mile Reservoir. It took me forever, or so it seemed, but I loved every painful, heavy step.
I will never forget the first time I re-ran the entire way around the 1.57-mile Reservoir. It took me forever, or so it seemed, but I loved every painful, heavy step.

But it’s not going to be easy.

And I’m finally ready to fight. I’m ready to push through the difficult moments and accept them as milestones in my recovery process. I’m ready to accept the failures as fleeting disappointments on the way to my next victory.

I have a lot more to say on this topic, but it’s basically a short-and-sweet-something as an excuse to post this:

“Not only was Mick walking, he was running!”

It wasn’t easy for Mick. And it won’t be easy for me. That’s OK.

Talk about a kick in the short-shorts.



46 Responses

  1. It’s all about the mindset, the months will pass and you will be back as long as you keep the mindset. Time is just time….

  2. Hi,
    I am an intern with Rare Genomics Institute. We are trying to contact patients that are willing to share their story with us so that we can make people more aware about rare diseases. Would it be possible for us to interview you to acquire more information about your disease?

  3. Just found your blog through Forward is a Pace and I’m glad I did! Love your writing style, and this happened to be just the thing I needed to read during challenges in my own life. Thanks. 🙂

  4. I hear ya… I sort of love the challenge though, although it certainly has its frustrating moments when you’re coming back to square one. It seems like you’ve gotten in some longer mileage type runs though from more recent posts. i’d have stopped at 3 mi for the first few times around haha.

  5. Allie, I just wanted to say how much of an inspiration you are. You have been the one blog that has given me the confidence and will to continue running. I love reading your posts, not only as another GI sufferer but also as someone who admires your courage! Thank you!

  6. Ali, running is not easy, running uphills is not easy even for those of us who have continued running. We all get out of breath too. Hang in there.

    Starting from zero gives you the opportunity to run as you like without having to compare; don’t ya dare compare your times to 7 months!

  7. As a beginner reading your post, every run is still a slow, labored jog and I can’t even fathom a 10-miler… I do think you are selling yourself short. I imagine you will bounce back quicker than you realize! It’s going to be work, but you’ll get there!!

  8. ali…..
    i am still in the phase where i have been sick so long that i dont remember how it feels to feel ok 🙁 this illness is a pain in the ass. literally. i am wondering what you think made the difference? anything in particular that helped you turn the corner? food? meds? i am so glad you are doing better!!!!!! I hope things continue to improve…..and be careful with your fragile body 🙂

  9. I must be underslept because that video reallllly made me cry dammit! I always cry when I’m tired. But that was especially cry worthy.

    I’m so, so happy to see things looking up for you. What a trial you’ve had. All I can do is hope this upward path is permanent

  10. Slow and steady to get that fitness back…I remember EVERY muscle hurting, even after a 20′ run. I had zero calf muscles left! Wear your compression, focus on recovery, and I promise it comes back! Let me know if I can help you with anything (ie: building a program to build back up, etc.) Patience and as you already know, it will take time (more time than we want it to, but it the fitness does return!)


  11. I obviously need to go back and do some reading, stumbled upon this post and it sounds so similar to one of mine that I wrote just s few days ago. Ugh Crohn’s!!!! Can’t wait to read more about your journey!

  12. Trust me..I am overweight and I go out and try to run..or run on the treadmill and it is hard..really hard. I sweat a lot, I chaff isn’t fun..but I know you can do it!!

  13. Hello!

    I just wanted to let you know how inspiring I find your blog. As a runner and having been recently diagnosed with both Crohn’s & Colitis, I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog. You give me hope and thank you for that!

  14. I am just now contemplating getting back into running after my own IBD struggles (UC), and I am SO impressed that you were already able to run 10 miles! I didn’t even take a complete break from running for the past 8 months but have struggled to even run 1 mile without stopping to walk. Go, Ali, go! You are awesome! I am thrilled that you are finally starting to feel better!

    1. Yes, I’ve been feeling much better! The IV infusions I’ve been getting (iron and albumin) have helped with my energy levels tremendously, and my stomach is improving, too. There’s no way I could “just fight through it.” Just a few weeks ago I couldn’t even get off the couch — it’s been a long long long road, but I’m finally starting to slowly feel better.

  15. I think it’s amazing that you’re already running double-digit miles after what a hard time you’ve been through these past months!! With that kind of determination you’ll be back to full speed in no time. 🙂

  16. You’ll get there! When I struggle, I try to remember that “it doesn’t get easier; you just get faster.” Running IS hard…and it’s supposed to be. It always will be hard, but you’ll just get faster.

    Sending speedy, happy, healing vibes your way!

  17. Hehe a kick in the short shorts…
    I’ve been feeling overly frustrated with my loss of speed (where did it gooooooo?! who stole it?!?) over the last month of marathon training. I’ve totally been angry at myself, cursing my watch, etc…but something you said in a post a little while ago has stuck with me – to be thankful that I get to run at all. And so I’m trying to keep that in mind. We’ll both get there! And if not, who cares…we’re running 🙂

  18. Aww, what a sweet video. You need to keep that video on your phone and watch it whenever you’re feeling defeated.

    You’ll be back to your speedy self in no time. Ease back into it. It’s remarkable how fitness drops from just a little time off, but you’ll also be amazed at the strides you’ll make by being smart and building back slowly.

    Maybe I’ll see you in good ol’ CP sometime soon. 🙂

  19. I’m so surprised you’ve put on weight. Maybe it’s just the muscle loss. But as everyone says, it WILL get easier. Try and find pleasure in every run rather than compare it to how you USED to run. Maybe this time, for you it’s MUCH more about the journey! (Which I know is so much easier said than done).

    You’re RUNNING!!!! It’s fab.

  20. Getting back into anything is always hard at first. The good thing is that you’ve already taken the bull by the horns and just hit the ground running. I’ve been experiencing some issues myself trying to get back in shape for my 1000 marathon.

  21. you’ll get stronger. and your body will remember what it needs to do. Try not to push too hard. You are still healing.

    but….keep it up. it must feel so good to be moving again!

  22. It will get easier again before you know it.. You just need to get through a few weeks of tough runs and one day it will just feel good again!

  23. I’m coming back after two months from training due to an injury and it’s so freaking hard to run right now. I can only imagine how hard it is for you coming back from everything you’ve been dealing with. The good news is I read that it’s still easier to reclaim your fitness even after such a long period off than it was to build it initially so take some comfort in that!

  24. That video…Ahh, cuteness overload. I want to go adopt all the little puppies and give them therapy!

    I am not going to compare my struggles with yours, because they aren’t even close, but I think I do understand how you feel about lost endurance and speed. Things that were sooo easy preinjury/illness are no such a struggle and it’s hard to keep a positive attitude, at least it was for me. I try to remind myself that I’m not just running for today, that the training I’m doing right now will lead me back to the great place I was.

  25. That video…impossible to have a bad day now! Well, minus the making myself look like I haven’t been on the verge of tears to start my workday. Good luck with the comeback! You are so strong and will be rocking those runs in no time!

  26. That video. Excuse me while I go hug a stranger.
    Retracing our steps (back to health, back to fighting form, back to joy) is the pits. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  27. Hi Ali,
    You give me inspiration. I used to run in Central Park, do all the races and loved it. I moved to the Caribbean and have a really hard time running here because the heat and the hills are something else. I miss running so much. I have walking the hills for now but always look forward to visiting NY to get in the park. When I get back in the park it is a struggle and yes my breathing is so loud. I love to read about you making strides and being able to get out and run again so until my next visit I will imagine running with you in the park. Thanks. And i will keep attempting to run these damn hills. Couldn’t watch the video on the iPad but will later. Have a great day.

  28. I think you’re being EXTREMELY hard on yourself–or maybe living in your own skin makes it harder to see your natural capabilities.

    You went for a 10 mile run not that long ago! A few posts back you ran 6 miles at a 9 minute mile pace! I’ve been running for 5+ years and have never done those things. You hop off the couch after 6 months of illness and do more than I’ve EVER done!

    Relax and be satisfied with yourself. If you can do this now, the sky is the limit even just a couple months from now.

    1. I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to do, trust me! I’m not beating myself up at all and I’m thrilled to even be out of my apartment! I’m just acknowledging that coming back is harder than I expected it to be. I’m still smiling about my 10-miler this past weekend, and I realize that’s a huge milestone. That doesn’t mean getting there was easy, though. That’s all!

  29. Ali- I know exactly how you feel! On Mother’s Day this year I had emergency surgery after going septic, having to take out 5 inches if my small intestines, & finding out I had to Chrohns. 2 nights before tht surgery I ran 6 miles & was training for Dumbo & my long lived dream of going to Cali. for the first time was so close. I had alot of complications & loss alot if muscle mass, strength, & weight. I tired, discouraged, & the training has been very hard on my body. My brain says go out and run like you used to but my body has other plans.
    We have to perserveer, kick this Chrohns in the butt, & smile doing it or else it will beat us. Runners run solo but are amongst a group of sipportive people that come together for one thing … the dream of finishing the race.

    *Every mile is an accomplishment*
    You got this girl!!

  30. I just came back in from a “run” that was super hard. And I read your post and thought that’s exactly how I feel!! I don’t have Crohns, but I did recently have a hysterectomy. It’s been sooo hard getting running again! But I plan on going one (slow) step at a time. I’ll get there, and so will you!! Proud of you!!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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