The following is a guest blog by Tina of Carrots ‘N’ Cake.
I’m the first to admit that I took my health for granted. Growing up, I rarely went to the doctor. I remember having the usual “kid” sicknesses, but I can only remember a handful of times that I was so sick that I needed to stay home from school or couldn’t do what I wanted to do.
I was lucky that I was such a healthy kid, and I pushed the limits of my health as I grew older. By the time I got to high school and college, I didn’t take great care of myself. My diet was terrible, I rarely ever slept, and I was constantly stressed out about academics, money or other responsibilities. But I was young and driven, and it didn’t seem to matter. I continued to push my body everyday and, thankfully, it just went along for the ride.
I found running in college. It was a fun way to stay fit, and I fell in love almost immediately. It relieved stress and some of my friends ran too, so it became a regular habit for me. I loved the post-run endorphins and any time I needed a pick-me-up, it was my go-to strategy.
Running became a form of exercise that I could count on and my love for it continued to grow over the next decade. I eventually ran my first marathon at 30 years old. I went from running just a few miles at a time to 26.2, so, needless to say, I was proud of my accomplishment, but I didn’t realize just how incredible it was until I was too sick to even walk my dog around the block just 6 months later.
In June 2011, right before my 31st birthday, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of the large intestine. The symptoms are quite unpleasant, and, at times during my struggles with the disease, I haven’t been well enough to run. At my worst, I wasn’t able to even leave my house, so running was most definitely out of the question. And, of course, when you tell a runner they can’t run, it’s all they want to do.
My journey with UC has included many ups and downs over the years. The highs include two additional marathons and more than two dozen half marathons, 10Ks, and 5Ks. The lows include countless failed diets, drugs, doctors, sleepless nights, searching the Internet for answers, and wishing everyday for a cure. At times, life has been really rough, but when I am well enough to run, I RUN. To me, it’s an indicator of my good health. I sometimes cry when I run because I am so happy and appreciative that my body is healthy enough to do something I enjoy so much. Other times though, I get angry because I battle this same body every single day. Most of my runs involve some sort of mixed emotions, but I know every day that I am well enough to lace up my sneakers is a special day.
I appreciate every step of my runs, and I still challenge myself to become a better runner, but I don’t let the little things bother me anymore. I used to get upset about my times—if I didn’t PR at a race or I had a lackluster training run. I also used to compare myself to other runners and get annoyed that I wasn’t as fast at them. Now that I’ve experienced something that has prevented me from running all together, those things don’t matter anymore. I actually don’t pay much attention to them these days. Getting out there and doing what I love on the regular basis is what makes me most happy about running. It truly makes me appreciate my health.
Tina is a runner passionate about health, fitness, running, family, and her blog Carrots ‘N’ Cake. Carrots ‘N’ Cake is where she shares her love of food, staying fit, and living a healthy life as well as updates about her life. While Tina tries to pack the most nutrients possible into each meal, she has a number of favorite foods that are not necessarily “healthy,” but are still delicious and fun to eat– hence, Carrots ‘N’ Cake!