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Runner vs. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Runner vs Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Can you imagine a 24/7 hangover with all the trimmings? Runner of the week Jen L. is on the road to recovery from a debilitating medical condition affecting one to two people out of every thousand.


Favorite Candy: Cadbury's Wispa bar

Favorite Quote: “It's not what happens to you, it's how you deal with it that matters”

Location: Preston, Lancashire UK

WalkJogRun: Tell us about yourself!

I'm 29, I live in a small market town in Lancashire, England, I'm a sales assistant in a supermarket by day, and a designer-maker-crafter by night! I love cooking, reading, rock music and being outdoors in the fresh air. I am currently in remission from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis).

WalkJogRun: Can you tell our readers more about C.F.S./M.E.?

Think about the worst dose of flu you ever had, and multiply it by ten. Or think of the worst hangover you ever had, and imagine feeling like that 24/7. This is what having C.F.S./M.E. feels like. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, a “foggy/stuffy” feeling in your head, severe muscle aches and pains, loss of appetite, sensitivity to light, extremes of temperature and loud noises, impaired cognitive and physical function, and in some cases depression. I have experienced all these symptoms and more to varying degrees.

I was absent from work for 7 months. During this time, with the help of my GP and a homeopath, I was able to tailor a recovery plan that suited my personal needs, and changed my entire lifestyle around for the better.

When I was at my most severely ill, I could not feed or clothe myself, or even walk to the bathroom. Running, power walking or going outside at all were simply out of the question. It is now one year and 5 months since my initial diagnosis, and I am not yet fit enough to run. But I love power walking out in the fresh air! The training plans on the WalkJogRun site enable me to pace my training and not over-do it; pacing is a well known term to people who have M.E, it helps them to structure their daily routine so as to avoid using up the finite amounts of energy available to them.

WalkJogRun: How did you get started running? What's your running “story”?

I started running when I joined the gym in 2011. Six months later in the July of 2011, I was diagnosed with M.E, having just run the 5k Race For Life. I didn't run (or power walk or anything) again until March of this year. I am currently power walking up to 5 times a week, aiming to incorporate running back into my routine in the next few months as part of my ongoing recovery from C.F.S./M.E.

WalkJogRun: Why running?

First and foremost, it's free! I love the endorphins rush you get, and the benefits of being out and about in the fresh countryside air are second-to-none. So much better than being cooped up in a hot sweaty gym-although any exercise is good exercise!

WalkJogRun: What's the best thing about running? What's the worst thing?

A good brisk walk or run always helps me to get my thoughts in order and come back to face any challenges feeling rejuvenated with a clear head. The worst thing is running into a headwind in the driving rain! I still do it though!

WalkJogRun: Do you have any advice for another running newbie?

One step at a time, literally. I hate cliches, but it's so true. I was so ill this time last year I could not walk to the bathroom let alone go outside for a walk. Along with a myriad of other treatments I have worked out a fitness program for myself that started with me being able to walk across the road, to in a year walking 5k in 45 minutes. This is what has worked for me personally, and I feel so much better for it. Another little thing that makes a huge difference is to run or walk with your head high and shoulders back; don't focus on the ground in front of your feet, focus on a landmark a short distance ahead of you and just go for it!

WalkJogRun: Tell us about your running or fitness goals.

I'd love to run the Race For Life again in 2013 and be able to beat my previous time of 39 minutes. That's more than enough for me. Other than that, just to be able to get out in the fresh air four or five times a week and stretch my legs is plenty, I run and walk for the sheer pleasure of it!

To learn more about Jen's experience recovering from C.F.S./M.E. you can head over to her blog.

You can take a look at some of our Walking Programs Jen describes in her interview and see how you can track your training progress to stay motivated with a free account on WalkJogRun.