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Marathon Training with a Chronic Illness (Running Coaches Corner)

When you live with a chronic illness, full and half marathon training can seem out of the question. But I am here to tell you that marathon training with a chronic illness is absolutely doable! Time to live beyond expectations! Link up with Running Coaches Corner!

This is an update to an older post. New info!

My motto is Live Beyond Expectations, and I developed that motto and approach to life when I started training for half marathon and later, full marathons. As a coach for Team Challenge (and a past participant), as a private running coach, I work with runners who defy the “limits” of their bodies every day. When approached with care, resiliency, and adaptability, marathon training while living with a chronic illness is completely possible.

If you are considering a fall marathon or half marathon but are worried that you might not be able to handle the training, check out my tips for getting through marathon training with a chronic illness, and off course email me to ask questions!

Marathon Training with A Chronic Illness

Marathon training with a chronic illness like Crohn's Disease is absolutely doable if you follow these 10 tips from @suzlyfe! Link up with Running Coaches Corner! http://suzlyfe/marathon-training-with-a-chronic-illness-living-with-crohns-disease

Before I get started, I want, as always to remind all of you that I am not a doctor, I’m especially not YOUR doctor, and though I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Running Coach, I am (likely) not YOUR CPT/Coach. So please, please, PLEASE always consult with your private physician and fitness professional before beginning an intensive fitness training program particularly if you have a chronic medical condition. 

1) Start with a stable condition and your specialist’s blessing

As lovely as it would be to say that you pushed through a flare and conquered your training…. it just isn’t worth it. Intense physical activity affects not only the muscles that you are actively working–it places stress across your entire body. Crohn’s Disease is, by definition, an inflammatory condition, and also one that reacts/can be triggered by stress, hormones, and dietary changes, all of which are likely to change/increase during training. So why start a lap behind and try to win the race? Marathon training, in particular, is difficult enough for a perfectly healthy body. Imagine what it can do with one prone to issue. 

2) Gradually work up to your big goals

Though I have worked up to the big race rather quickly in the big scheme of things, I didn’t start with marathons. In fact, when I was in 9th grade, I had a doctor’s note to keep me FROM running because of the stress that it might cause. It wasn’t until I was stable later on that I started my running routine, and then it was largely for fitness.

I started running more seriously in my final year of undergraduate (I worked up to about 5 miles then), and I took on my first half marathon two years later during my last semester of grad school. I tried my first marathon 18 months later, and my second a full year later. Incremental increases in distances, and numerous set backs and injuries as I had to make up for my lack of running knowledge and physical issues helped me improve.

3) Conservative Training Plans

For my first two marathons, I trained extremely conservatively, and even the training for my Boston Qualifying marathons were conservative by the majority of marathon training standards. During marathon training, I run 3 times a week–2 mid-week runs and one long run for the first two marathons and with the addition of another run (for coaching) in my later marathons.. My midweek runs are generally about 8 miles and consistent with regards to pace. I try to throw in speed work when I can, but my goal is a happy, injury and pain free marathon, not elite status.

suz pose victory phoenix marathon

I’m elite in my mind

Every thing that I accomplish is gravy beyond the finish itself. It isn’t that you need to do the minimum or “get by,” it is that you have to know that you are already playing with fire. I think that most of your all know by now that I don’t really use any of the popular ones. My training plan is to get my 3 runs, do yoga at least 2 times a week, PT exercises 2-3 times a week, and strength training of some variety 1-2 times a week. And, of course, rest.  

4) Flexibility and Patience

Flexibility and patience are not just keys to successful training, they are keys to living with chronic conditions, PERIOD. So is a sense of humor. Sometimes? Your body is just going to give you the middle finger.

invincibilitySometimes? You are going to wake up and not be able to hit your miles or your speed work goal. Set yourself up for success respecting that–pick an objective that you can hit, and move things around a bit. Don’t ruin your chances at your long term by going after what you want in the short term.

5) Learn to Listen to Your Body

One of the most frequent comments that I receive is that I know and listen to my body so well. First of all, I have had a few years with it to do so, but, to be honest, yes, I am one of the most in-tune-with-their-body-people I know myself. Sometimes my body cries wolf, and I have worked hard to figure out what that feels like. Don’t force yourself to fit into some other expectation or mold of what training looks like. Keep notes, figure out what is working, what isn’t. 

Do you know the difference between pain and discomfort?

6) Hydration/Fueling Strategies

This can get tricky. Many people with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis have had resections or colostomies that have removed critical parts of their digestive system and thereby makes it very difficult for them to absorb proper nutrients, especially to keep them hydrated.

and i want a puppy #thingsicanthave

and i want a puppy #thingsicanthave

Absolutely consult with your doctor about the best strategies for dealing with this. I make sure to hydrate the day before, of, and after my big runs. Same with nutrition. I spread out my refueling over 48 hours. Check out other Running Coaches Corner posts for more info on hydration and fueling.

7) Supplement Use

Again, consult your doctors. I take a selection of vitamins throughout the year (Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Probiotic, Women’s One-a-Day, a few others) throughout the year, but during training, I have also taken iron and stool softeners (Iron makes you constipated, as well as being rough on your stomach. CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE TAKING). I have a proven history of anemia (thanks to the ulcers and inflammation), thus an iron regimen, but I take a more powerful one when I am menstruating or training. Runners tend toward anemia often, so that + Crohn’s = likely the need to take iron. I did not this past time after my illness in November (and the constipation associated with it), but I have been advised to start again.

I do not take herbal remedies of any sort–you MUST consult with a physician before starting any of those, as they can have adverse effects on your medication or condition.

8) Carry the right equipment

Ok, full disclosure here. I run with a few sheets of TP, a little bit of money (in case I have to purchase drinks or the rights to use a bathroom), and ginger with me during my long runs. And I always run in a pantyliner. Let’s just say that I’ve had more than just the “trots,” mkay? I also have Uber on my phone.

9) Rest/Recovery are non-negotiable

You may be taking some powerful medications or downing a green smoothie every day, but that doesn’t mean that you are invincible. Some bodies need rest the day before the heavier days, some like rest after, some need both days. Figure out what works for you, but know that you might need more of it than the average person. That. is. OK.

alex massage team challenge

He is my minion. Like Despicable Me but less prone to wearing overalls.

Also, request more foot and leg rubs. Because, you know, chronic condition and all….

Here is a great post on Optimal Muscle Recovery

10) Have the right support team

Surround yourself by people who believe in you and want to help you achieve your goals. Support System for the Win!

What the Suzlyfe does best--obnoxious and loud and making people laugh by yelling ridiculous things at them as they ran by. We all have our skillz. Don't be jealous of mine.

What the Suzlyfe does best–obnoxious and loud and making people laugh by yelling ridiculous things at them as they ran by.
We all have our skillz. Don’t be jealous of mine.

Many people scoff at the idea of running a marathon for healthy people, many scoff at leading a “normal” life with a chronic illness. Try putting those two seemingly inconceivable notions together and see what reactions you get! But also? DON’T surround yourself with people who will just blow smoke up your ass. Ask them to be critical, but not critics, if that makes sense. You will be going through the same mental and physical battles as everyone else, after all! Sometimes, you will need that kick out the door, or someone to keep you from taking it. 

A chronic illness won't keep me from #marathon training with these tips! #runchat #running Click To Tweet

If you’ve never run a marathon before, or are worried about doing so with little experience, hire a running coach with experience with chronic illness such as myself (I can work with you and personalize your schedule) or look into joining a charity team. I ran with Team Challenge, and though I did not train with them, they were amazing for many of the runners who were running with chronic illnesses. At races, they have doctors just for TC use, in fact. Many of the mentors have the diseases themselves, or close family members, and they have all done this before–they will help you through. And, the sad truth is, you might not be “successful.” But regardless of what happens on race day, know that you are a complete, unerring success in taking your life to the next level and living beyond expectation. 

You are living Your life on Your terms. Know that the terms might change, but they are still yours. 

Chronic illness or not, what is your biggest challenge when it comes to training?

Join the link up and Running Coaches Corner for more great running advice and content!

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I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday. 

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  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    This is good advice even if you don’t have a chronic illness! I think you set a great example of living with a difficult disease. I see so many patients ( and I work in peds) who let their health issues rule their lives. Can you come to my clinic and give motivational speeches please?
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…RewardingMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 5:56 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I would love to, honestly! And it is hard as well, working in Peds. I was lucky to be a self starter, and to have a mom that checked and supported but didn’t coddle me. So many parents interfere in their children’s autonomy.

      April 22, 2015 at 4:04 pm
      • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

        Who would have thought that 2 years later, I’d be the one with the chronic illness, needing this advice? I’m still not going to let my health issue dictate my life. But with this upcoming marathon, my coach and I are definitely approaching my training more conservatively. Current goal: Finish the race.
        Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…10 Tips to Strengthen Your Writing Muscle and Compose Amazing Blog PostsMy Profile

        April 5, 2017 at 7:39 am
        • Reply suzlyfe

          That is the perfect place to start. You will figure this out. I promise.

          April 7, 2017 at 8:31 pm
  • Reply Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie

    I love that you have figured out what works best for you for training. I’m sure it must have come with a lot of trial and error, but overall you seem to have found a formula for success!
    Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie recently posted…Solid Life ChoicesMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 6:11 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well, I always liked algebra! seriously! But yes, lots of trial, error, and regrouping!

      April 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm
  • Reply Heather @Fit n Cookies

    So when I was going through all my things and trying to get a diagnosis, all the doctors kept saying was to just stop running. I mean, no big deal, just stop doing what you love. Thankfully I didn’t listen to them and found a doctor who knew what I wanted to do and didn’t stop until he found something. It’s tricky to have flares and look fine but be feeling terrible inside and know you can’t do anything. It’s a tough call between running too much and knowing when your body feels its best. I know running 3 days a week works for me, too, and more than that I tend to get sick. Definitely a tricky one but I love all of your tips!!
    Heather @Fit n Cookies recently posted…My changing schedule, again + Half marathon training week 5My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 6:19 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It’s all about finding the right balance. It isn’t “don’t” but “let’s find a way.”

      April 22, 2015 at 4:06 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner

    These tips are great for all of us not just those managing chronic issues. I love your everything in moderation attitude and look at you crushing your goals at the same time!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Rock Your Core Week 4My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 6:35 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think it just goes to show that you can have balance and still end up where you want to be–you don’t have to balls to the walls at all times!

      April 22, 2015 at 4:06 pm
  • Reply lindsay

    yes yes, support and #5 are key. well from what i’ve learned. It’s hard to go through any of that alone, yet train alone and think you don’t need the extra TLC. ya know?
    lindsay recently posted…Gluten Free Boston Cream Pie Oatmeal – A Healthy Dessert Breakfast!My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 6:40 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is so hard to train alone–and you would know the incredible impact of the support system on athletes!

      April 22, 2015 at 4:07 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    There’s really valuable info in this post, both for people without chronic diseases and people with them. It’s so inspiring how you found what worked for you and have become such a speedy marathoner!
    A strong support team is so so so important! Running is not as much of a solo sport as it appears.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Apple Cinnamon Chia Seed OatmealMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 6:46 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      DEFINITELY not. One of my favorite things about running is that I can be running and alone and still feel connected to the larger community!

      April 22, 2015 at 4:08 pm
  • Reply Michele

    Definitely important and great advice for everyone. Since marathon training is so hard on even a very healthy body, any chronic conditions make it that much more challenging! Support all around is so important I think. For me the biggest challenge is listening to my body for signals, since I often initially ignore/deny although I think just with experience it’s harder to ignore things.
    Michele recently posted…Feeling Inspired to RUNMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 6:49 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      My biggest issue is that my body just doesn’t heal the way I would like it to. Sometimes I over listen, sometimes, I under-listen. The trouble is listening to the right voice.

      April 22, 2015 at 4:09 pm
  • Reply Annmarie

    All of these things are so important, especially having a support system!!! You’re so inspiring, my friend. You rock!
    Annmarie recently posted…Five Ways to “Spring Clean” Your DietMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 6:55 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thanks A! I couldn’t do it without the, and without you all!

      April 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm
  • Reply Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli

    This is so helpful! I think that being more conservative in training runs is so important – I’ve just gotten burnt out otherwise! But I’ve also never run a marathon, so…
    Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli recently posted…Recipe: Turkey Power BowlMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 7:02 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I will say that being conservative in my running has kept me from getting burnt out! I truly look forward to each of my runs!

      April 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm
  • Reply carissajade

    I think this is great advice for anyone training. I’m super impressed with all marathon runners, even more so with marathon runners with disabilities or ilness. It’s incredible. You are amazing, my friend!
    carissajade recently posted…Create A Thought Box To Strengthen Writing HabitsMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 7:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, love. It definitely isn’t easy, it definitely takes some planning, but it has given me so much that I would never give it back.

      April 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm
  • Reply Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants

    I love that you write these types of posts based on your personal experience and that in doing so, you’re helping so many other people. Stomach issues are definitely my biggest problem when running.
    Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants recently posted…NYC TreatsMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 7:16 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I really hope so–that’s all I’m really looking to do! It took me a while to figure out my stomach, and sometimes? It still revolts. But I’ve learned what I can and can’t help.

      April 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm
  • Reply Mar @ Mar on the Run

    Such great advice! We can all take pieces of this away. You’re such and inspiration living with this and being so confident. Your srent shines through 🙂
    Mar @ Mar on the Run recently posted…Countdown to Pittsburgh: Training UpdateMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 7:53 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Ah, Mar, you are always so sweet. And the confidence is there a decent amount of the time, but don’t get it twisted–I still freak out a lot!

      April 22, 2015 at 4:01 pm
  • Reply Rae

    I think a lot of the advice you’ve laid out is definitely applicable to anyone, regardless of chronic health conditions. My biggest challenge has been and always will be fueling appropriately. I just don’t eat as well as I should, and I always “run to eat” versus “eat to run.” I’m trying to get better, but it’s just not second nature to choose veggies over fries.
    Rae recently posted…Manic Monday – 04/20/15My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 8:33 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hahaha, TRUTH. And then you rationalize that… well… it’s a potato….

      April 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm
  • Reply Erin @ Erin's Inside Job

    Nutrition is prob my biggest challenge when training. When I started running more and for longer during my half training, my stomach would revolt unexpectedly and I had to make surprise trips to the woods (good thing there were woods). Then I started running with TP too and ate super bland food since I wasn’t sure what exactly was causing it. Good times.
    Erin @ Erin’s Inside Job recently posted…Spring Menu Tasting at Weber GrillMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 8:48 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well, you know where to find me if you need to discuss. Hopefully you won’t have the same issues in a few weeks!

      April 22, 2015 at 3:59 pm
  • Reply Jen @ Pretty Little Grub

    Great advice. I think it’s great for people with Crohns or other chronic conditions to see it is possible to run and even run a marathon. It takes patience and practice but totally worth it. You’re awesome!
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…I Confess…My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 8:50 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you Jen! And that is the key–patience. You just have to keep chipping away at it, and develop a practiced hand.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:59 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    I love how you wrote about how our bodies can cry wolf. It’s so true! Often when I have a niggly feeling in a quad or whatnot, if I run on it, it seems to work itself out. But if it’s a real injury then I will know within the first minute.
    Suzy recently posted…Break it DownMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 8:54 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Exactly. Except for the broken (?) toe lol

      April 22, 2015 at 3:58 pm
  • Reply Jess @hellotofit

    Very valuable advice! Especially having the right support system. I’ve never trained for a race, so I’m not sure what my biggest challenge would be, haha.
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Link Love #14 and a smokey bacon pizzetteMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 9:49 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      But you know what I mean–any time we go after something, we need to have the support system, have our heads in the right place… or as much as my head can ever be in the right place.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm
  • Reply Marcia

    Great post Suz! Kudos to you for finding what works and ways to overcome the obstacles in front of you. Very inspiring!

    April 21, 2015 at 10:41 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you Marcia! I am so happy to be able to do so.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:56 pm
  • Reply Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat

    Such great advice! I had been told my issues in the beginning were because of running and I immediately hated that doctor (and obvi he was wrong). It was music to my ears when my new, current doctor told me he signed up for NYCM – and promotes my lifestyle!
    Now realizing I ran all my marathons through flares I cannot wait to spend some time in remission and then train for real once again. It has been a very long time coming and I will definitely be looking to you for some advice when that time comes!
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted…Weight Watchers Week 12My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 10:48 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You got it–you know where to find me! And just think of how different it will be this time around!

      April 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm
  • Reply Linda @ Veganosity

    This is good advice for everyone. I’ve been running three days a week and wondering if it was enough. Since I’m only training for a couple of half marathons this summer, you’ve convinced me that I’m on the right track. Thanks!

    April 21, 2015 at 11:24 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So happy to hear that! There is no reason to do more than that unless you feel secure in your running!

      April 22, 2015 at 3:56 pm
  • Reply Dannii @ hungry healthy happy

    I couldn’t even imagine training for a marathon anyway, let alone with the battles you have as well. I think the advice about working your way up slowly is good advice for most things, but especially this 🙂
    Dannii @ hungry healthy happy recently posted…Comment on Space Saving DIY Herb Garden by GingiMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 1:09 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I agree! Enthusiasm is one thing, exuberance another, and stupidity quite another.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply GiGi Eats

    I cannot even fathom…. Ugh. With my exhaustion – marathon + GiGi is just never going to happen, unless I walked it! LOL!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Wine and Onesies Make The Perfect PairingMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 1:31 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Girl you would be so bored, you’d never make it. Unless we dangled wine in front of you.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm
  • Reply Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles

    It’s so great that you have found the right “formula” that allows you to train safely! For me, my biggest challenge other than time right now is that my calves hate me when I do much more than 16 or so miles. It means a few days a week with my PT, doing a lot of graston treatments, etc. While I love longer distances, I am going to be fousing more on shorter distances with some speed in the near future. I think recognizing what we are capable of doing safely (but always having a bigger goal) and then executing it well are the keys to long term success in not only running but life.

    April 21, 2015 at 1:52 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I will say that after my first marathon, I thought that there was no chance at another, much less more. But I think that you have to just figure out the right way to set yourself up. For me? Adding regular yoga throughout the week and making a few changes to my diet, getting my glutes to fire, made all the difference.
      But at the same time? Respecting your body and not putting it in a position that you can’t get out of (especially with a kiddo) is most important.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm
  • Reply

    Another valuable read, my friend, and I agree with it all (of cours 😉 ) but definitely the support team!! So true and so many people forget this part of the training, and also forget to give their support. Fortunately I think you and I have great support teams from our other halves! 😀 recently posted…Green Lentil DahlMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 2:56 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We definitely have some gems, don’t we! It takes a village, yes, but ultimately?? You need the right person to be that voice in your head, checking and pushing you forward.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:48 pm
  • Reply Beth @ Running with the Sunrise

    Love your honesty here, Suz. And your willingness to be so open about your journey. And you. 🙂 I’m sure that others with Crohn’s or related diseases will find your tips really helpful, so thanks for being a great resource, too. I think my biggest struggle when training is staying motivated. Sometimes I just want to sleep in!
    Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted…Cross Training for RunnersMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 3:21 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love your face 😀 Training is usually the one thing that gets me going in the morning–otherwise I blarg around. Training has been incredibly valuable for me by giving me and my body some structure.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes

    You are a rockstar. Marathon training and running is hard enough without a chronic disease. I can’t even imagine it with one. You are amazing!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Improve your Running Game with Champion’s #ALLGAINNOPAIN clothing line!My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm
  • Reply Farrah

    This is all wonderful advice, with or without a chronic illness! I’m still not entirely sure what sports medicine entails, but if I do decide to pursue that, I hope I get to learn more about how to counsel my patients on nutrition, what I would and wouldn’t recommend them doing, and how to best work with them so they can keep doing the things they love without aggravating whatever condition they may have!
    Farrah recently posted…Recharging With My Other LifeMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 5:01 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe


      April 22, 2015 at 3:46 pm
  • Reply Emily

    I really respect and look up to the runners who have struggled through and overcome physical challenges to keep running and conquering goals despite the difficulty. You also seem to have a really good balance on the rest/training.
    Emily recently posted…Tuesday Runner Confessions.My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 7:09 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Emily! It hasn’t been easy. I get hurt like everyone else, and I don’t heal very well. But I think and hope that, if anything, what I have been able to overcome can be a source of hope for anyone, regardless of what they are facing.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:45 pm
  • Reply Pragati // Simple Medicine

    You’re an inspiration! I really admire you for never letting life, health, struggles hold you down. It’s no easy feat to run a marathon, let alone multiple marathons with a chronic disease. Keep on living #likeasuz!
    Pragati // Simple Medicine recently posted…Simple Ways to RechargeMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Triple across the body snaps!

      April 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm
  • Reply Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs

    I love that you’re sharing this. I hope it encourages people with Crohns or other chronic conditions to at least realize that they have options. You train so smart (and obviously it works!!!!) and obviously respect your body and your condition.
    Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs recently posted…Training Recap (6 days until SLO Marathon!)My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 7:48 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so much Debbie. Sometimes, I wonder if I am doing the right thing–and believe me, I make mistakes! But then I look at the overall picture, and I realize what incredible things my body has been able to accomplish. I just hope that others can use some of this advice to do the same!

      April 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm
  • Reply Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola

    Thank you so much for continuing to share your journey. It’s so great that you’re talking openly about this. I know it will help a lot of people!
    Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola recently posted…6 week Post-Op Follow-UpMy Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 8:36 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I really hope that it will help others, Sam, thank you! Whether to get through a tough time or to dream big!

      April 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm
  • Reply Gina Hanzel

    I love the advice in this blog! Great post! I have never run a marathon : it’s on my bucket list for 2015.

    April 21, 2015 at 8:50 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you! And the best of luck! Which one are you looking at?

      April 22, 2015 at 3:40 pm
  • Reply Jill

    I am loving the entire series of Crohns posts! I think many of these points are applicable to ‘healthy’ runners as well. Most important is listening to your body. I think many of us try to push past pain which at times is necessary and helpful but others times can be dangerous. Running 3x week always worked for me too! Running seems to exacerbate my bowels so on long runs it def helps if I have a looped planned where I can circle back to the potty! Love these posts Suze!
    Jill recently posted…A Few Things Friday…My Profile

    April 21, 2015 at 9:22 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is definitely critical to have an “emergency” plan–sometimes that is just having TP and a good friend on the look out. Or no pride. But you have to know when your body is crying uncle, and sometimes it can do that in multiple ways!

      April 22, 2015 at 3:41 pm
  • Reply Nicole@thegirlwhoraneverywherethe

    These are amazing tips..whether you have an illness or not! Every body is different, and you are so in tune to your own and I think that’s wonderful. I am pretty good, too…but you are better at knowing yourself than I am! Keep on being a boss, my friend because you are rocking this thing we call lyfe!
    Nicole@thegirlwhoraneverywherethe recently posted…My recap of the 119th Boston Marathon!My Profile

    April 22, 2015 at 7:48 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You are too sweet! I try as hard as I can, and I think that I just have had to learn to respect my body because it won’t have it any other way. I would love to push through, but it isn’t going to happen!

      April 22, 2015 at 3:39 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ ihadabiglunch

    For all the technical things you said (supplements, fueling, training plans, etc.) I really think so much of it has to do with your support system. That mental push/support is incredible, and we can all tell how strong yours is
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…WIAW: not your average hump dayMy Profile

    April 22, 2015 at 11:21 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      As I always say–I couldn’t do it without any of them. They push me forward, keep me in check, and help me when I hit road bumps.

      April 22, 2015 at 3:38 pm
  • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

    Alright, this is my third attempt to post a comment on this–my laptop is fighting me in Mexican cyberspace!
    I just wanted to add that being part of your “personal support team,” at a number of these long races, is as important to me as my being there is for you.
    I know what you go through to train, and prepare for these races. You need someone on the sidelines who can cheer you on, have your extra “whatevers” and be there as close to the finish line as possible.
    But, as an athlete with a chronic illness, you might need someone who knows what to do if the unthinkable happens.
    I have been on the sidelines and watched someone who needed help right then. As a “Crohns Mom” I know the physical signs to look for and I know what to do for Crohn’s or UC runner if he or she becomes ill.
    Whatever we may or may not have, having people who support our efforts and share in our victories and our defeats is an important part of participating in our passions.

    I am there to support you, first and foremost, but I love to cheer for all of the athletes–whatever the event. That is a passion, too!

    April 22, 2015 at 9:31 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And a passion that I will neverneverneveevevevevevevevevever take for granted. I love you so much!

      April 24, 2015 at 9:29 am
  • Reply Eric

    It is a relief to see more people like myself training for these events. I’ve had a range of responses from my doctors (neutral, positive and negative). I posted a link to more details on my adventure so far, I haven’t made it as far as you yet, but I’d love to give it a shot one of these days. My disease (TRAPS) is much more joint/muscle/nerve focused, but sometimes I can get similar swelling around my digestive system (Sunday was an interesting run, running to get home to my bathroom). My brother, father, and mother all have crohn’s and I’m sure they can’t possibly imagine running during a flare. Never stop fighting!

    July 16, 2015 at 10:32 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Eric, thank you so much for your comment! I know of TRAPS, but not nearly enough. And to think that your whole family has Crohn’s–you all are certainly incredible! I have had too many runs where the goal is just to get home in one piece and not have to hide behind a tree. And yet we somehow still do it. I can’t wait to read your story!

      July 21, 2015 at 11:22 am
      • Reply Eric

        Actually, funny story. After reading about your journey, discussing it with friends and family, and thinking on a few good long runs I have an update. I want to run my first Marathon, and I’m going to write down my journey this time. My goal is currently to run one in April or June of next year (Vermont or Boston). I’ll be running at least 2 more Half’s before then. Several of my friends blog, of course there’s this blog, and I thought “what a good way to remember all the steps”. I’ve contacted 2 charities so far to try to get myself a bib, but my backup plan is Vermont.

        July 21, 2015 at 12:08 pm
        • Reply suzlyfe

          Eric, that is fantastic! I am so excited for you to start the journey, both for the blog and for the marathon! Please please keep in touch, and I look forward to keeping tabs on your progress!
          Truly awesome, and so much good energy being sent your way right now.

          July 21, 2015 at 2:28 pm
  • Reply Christina @

    This is so inspiring. I don’t have a chronic illness, but I have a long term foot injury that’s kept me from running races for the past couple of years. It’s starting to feel a bit better lately, so I’m *hoping* I may be able to get back into at least shorter races. These are great tips!
    Christina @ recently posted…April GoalsMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 6:01 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope you get that injury nipped in the bud! Start slowly, savor your miles and steps.

      April 7, 2017 at 8:34 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    These are great tips even if you don’t have a chronic illness. Listening to your body and rest and recovery-yes!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…How To Recover After A Hard WorkoutMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 6:30 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      If only people took it seriously enough!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:33 pm
  • Reply Kimberly Hatting

    SO much great common sense info here (unfortunately, common sense stuff we all need to hear, repeatedly LOL).
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…My Take on VictoryMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 6:56 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Common sense can be uncommonly come by, unfortunately

      April 7, 2017 at 8:33 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    Recovery matters just as much – if not more – than the miles. The comparison game does no favors here – you have to do what is right for you and your body!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Running with Spring AllergiesMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 7:25 am
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    Such good tips Susie! As someone who runs with another chronic illness… severe asthma… I do a lot of this too. I’ve found running conservatively three days a week works for me and I’d rather do that than run too much and not be able to run at all! I also know to avoid certain weather and triggers.
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…Balsamic Glazed SalmonMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 7:35 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Like the crazy pollen that I am sure you deal with!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:32 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    I’m so curious to know where the term “blowing smoke up your ass” came from. I’m a visual person and it just seems uncomfortable. On a serious note, I just think you’re such a champion for running frigging marathons while dealing with a chronic illness. Wait… does your ass feel a little warm right now?
    Suzy recently posted…Pregnant and Running: 18 Week UpdateMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 9:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Warm and toasty and slightly moist ;D

      April 7, 2017 at 8:31 pm
  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    I can’t tell you how much I love that you don’t let chronic illness get you down. You da bomb. Dot com.
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…April 2017 GoalsMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 10:26 am
  • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

    Great post, Suse!
    Sometimes we need a swift kick in the rear to get moving….but, sometimes we need an iron fist to hold us back from moving too fast.
    You are an excellent trainer–you know how to listen to your body and what it is telling you.
    You may not like what you hear, but you know how to listen, and that is the greatest advice a coach can give!!

    April 5, 2017 at 11:00 am
  • Reply

    This is great and very helpful! Shows how you can’t let anything stand in the way of your goals! We’re there is s will there is a way! recently posted…Homemade Pizza DoughMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 11:33 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Isn’t that the truth!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:29 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    I remember this post, and remember loving the reminders. We are #pantylinersisters LOL! I always have to wear one, too…LOL
    Michelle recently posted…Missing myselfMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 11:41 am
    • Reply suzlyfe


      April 7, 2017 at 8:28 pm
  • Reply Alaina @ The Simple Peach

    I’ve always admired your drive to push past your illness and not let it control you! While I don’t have a chronic illness I do have issues that force me to find work arounds. I think listening to your body is so important regardless of who you are. I love that my doctor and naturopath work with me to adjust my supplementation routine during peak months of training and I think everyone could benefit from that. I don’t take iron supplements, but I do increase my intake of red meat during peak months because I feel better. Great post Susie!
    Alaina @ The Simple Peach recently posted…Meal Prep: Inspirational BlogsMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 1:44 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We all have our issues! We all have things that we have to fight against. I respect anyone who demands the best for themselves and their family!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:26 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    These are great tips. Especially listening to your body. Applicable to every runner for sure.
    Rachel recently posted…What Hydration Option Should I Buy? A Runner’s Guide to Packs, Vests, Belts, and BottlesMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 2:04 pm
  • Reply Michelle @ Fruition Fitness

    Your posts are so inspirational Suzy! I really love everything you put out and I’m sure you are helping so many others with similar struggles <3
    Michelle @ Fruition Fitness recently posted…I Survived the 6 Week CrossFit Challenge–so now what?My Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 3:17 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so much, Michelle! You are so sweet!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:25 pm
  • Reply Kimberly G

    This is such great advice! I think that anyone can accomplish any fitness goal as long as they have the right training plan, a support system and determination!
    Kimberly G recently posted…April 2017 GoalsMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 3:50 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I couldn’t agree more!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm
  • Reply Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    Great advice! Sounds like you have a great support system!
    Lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…Sometimes Shift HappensMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    All the things you have accomplished definitely shows that with hard work great things can be achieved. I have always been extra impressed by those runners i see with a chronic illness who train for and run marathons. This is great advice!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…Posterior Tibial Tendonitis (PTT) Recovery PlanMy Profile

    April 5, 2017 at 6:51 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you! You are so sweet!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:22 pm
  • Reply Janelle @ Run With No Regrets

    Wonderful advice! It has been inspiring to see you live beyond expectations and motivate others along the way.

    April 6, 2017 at 6:15 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so much Janelle!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:17 pm
  • Reply Annmarie

    This is all such awesome advice – I am in awe by you and admire you for keep on keepin’ on even with a chronic illness! <3
    Annmarie recently posted…Crossrope Endurance and Power Building Jump Rope WorkoutMy Profile

    April 6, 2017 at 11:39 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Annmarie. We all have our battles, we just have to fight!

      April 7, 2017 at 8:03 pm

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