Reclaiming Life at What Price?

running with fibromyalgia
It was raining, but it was a great day to run.

I’m curious what you do when you want to do something so bad but you know it’s potentially disastrous for your health. Bottom line—with every fiber of my being I want to return to running, but I’m scared to death of the post-run nighttime pain that made me howl like a wounded animal the last time I ran.

When I see people running, I feel a mixture of hope and bitterness and excitement and disappointment and jealousy. I’m happy for them that they get to experience the joy and challenge of running, but I desperately want to return to one of the last things I had to give up. Soccer is unrealistic. Tennis is probably unrealistic, too. Same with rollerblading. But running was my holdout, the final thing I kept for myself for peace, clarity, adventure, and release.

My internal debate gets more heated every day. I’m walking several miles (and sometimes as many as 5 hours) daily, so it seems like running a few minutes in the midst of all that walking wouldn’t be a big deal. But every time I almost embrace freedom and take off, I think about the way my hips and back felt the night after the last time I ran, and I keep walking instead.

Is there anything you’ve given up for fibromyalgia that you’ve reclaimed? If so, did it come with a price, and is the price worth it?

5 thoughts on “Reclaiming Life at What Price?”

  1. I went back into martial arts and am training in Jiu Jitsu. Why, because it shows us a different type of pain and how to control our pain in different ways. Mindset is a big thing in fibro people as we do the old ‘I can’t do that’ when in actuality we can. If we want something bad enough we will do it. I find that it’s helping me tremendously, and that the regimented strictness, exercise, cardio, muscle tiredness and pain is a good pain now.

    1. Deb,
      My daughter does Jiu Jitsu and I did it for awhile. I know the good pain you are talking about and I understand. However, my Fibro presents in my forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers so grip strength was VERY hard for me. I eventually had to stop. My hands would tighten into claws a few hours after training. One of the hardest things I had to do.
      Looking on the bright side though, I am able to do no gi week, no grips!!

  2. I have gone back into martial arts. I am now doing Jiu Jitsu. Why, because the regimented strictness, the cardio, the exercise justifies the outcome of a better health. It teaches me to overcome my pain, it’s my mindset. The pain I get is a good pain now. We too often get the ‘I can’t do it anymore’ thing going and we can. The exercise, the cardio, the muscle strength, and the positive mental aspect all are good. Not letting it take me over anymore. Yes, there is some fibro pain, but now to me it is all worth it knowing my health over all is better than just sitting around and watching.

  3. I’m a runner trying to return to running too. I recently started working with a physical therapist who specializes in fibromyalgia and he has me doing a very low key workout twice a week and then on the days in between I can do whatever I want. Or rather, I can do whatever my body can handle. My PT says we’re essentially retraining the nervous system. Right now I can do 3 miles on my running days if I walk 5 minutes, run 10 mins, etc. I find I feel better on the days that I run as long as I get a really good stretch in afterwards and don’t push myself too hard. I ran cross country and track in high school and college and it’s really hard for me to “start low and go slow”; especially when before the fibro I was able to push through the normal pain of training. But having 2 days a week of ridiculously low intensity workouts has helped me a lot (my PT always says with fibro it’s not “no pain no gain”, it’s “no pain….. no pain”). It’s not just that the workouts are easy, but they have a special rotation between aerobic exercise, yoga stretching, core strengthening, and lower and upper body strengthening. You’re constantly changing so you don’t overwork any part of the body. I’m just so happy to be able to run at all. At my last appointment my PT told me that he talked to a colleague at the Mayo clinic who has a fibro patient who is running marathons and that gives me a lot of hope. I haven’t completely reclaimed my running life, but I’m working on it and the price seems to be my old identity. Maybe that sounds corny, but that’s what it seems to be about. I look at all my old medals, wonder if I will ever win another race, and then realize I’d be happy just to be able to finish a 5k. I may never be that runner again, but I can still be a runner. And if I’m lucky maybe one day my PT will be telling future patients about a patient of his that now runs marathons.

    I’m really glad I found your blog. I can relate to you and I have felt lonely and left out for awhile. I like the idea that you can have fibromyalgia and still be an athlete.

    1. Sherry, I’m glad to know you’ve found a helpful physical therapist and a routine that works for you. I’d appreciate any updates you want to give me. Have you been to Mayo clinic? I’ve been thinking about trying to get an appointment there but I hate dealing with doctors and I’m pretty turned off by western medicine. That said, I know that good doctors might be able to help me. My back’s been acting up again so my return to running was cut short again, but I’m still walking a lot every day and doing strength training. Good luck to you and thanks for reading my blog and sharing your story!

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