My running career is rather short having only started in 2016 as a way of getting fit. Prior to 2015 I was completely inactive but after a decision to get fitter I lost weight and tried out cycling and swimming before discovering running and caught the running bug.

I didn’t follow any plans as such but quickly discovered that I enjoyed the longer distances runs in particular ultras and progressed through the distances until I completed my first ultra in 2016.

Runner’s Trots

When I started I was in a period of remission and with the Crohn’s under control I had less to worry about although I was plagued with the dreaded runner’s trots. As non-IBD sufferers experience runner’s trots, without the IBD I may well have also been plagued with this, but with it I’m sure it made things worse.

Being a sufferer of runner’s trots meant preparing in advance for a run or race and being prepared for the worst should they make an appearing mid-run. Preparation was sometimes a bit hit-and-miss but before a race, running a mile or two would usually kick start the bowels and the race would then be trouble free.

Going for a mile or two run before a training run wouldn’t make sense so I’d have to hope for the best or make sure I ran in the vicinity of a toilet. The amount of times I never made it!

But the digestive system is a weird beast and on occasions I can go for much further without worrying such as the EcoTrail Paris 50-miler.

Peri-Anal Abscesses and Running

With an 50-mile ultra marathon in the pipeline in March 2018, training was going well and then I was plagued with what appeared to be a peri-anal abscess. I was given a course of penicillin and continued to run but the abscess wasn’t budging and with 6 days to go until the ultra I was admitted for surgery to have it drained.

With the race on the horizon I asked the surgeon whether I would be able to race on the weekend.

As long as the race isn’t some crazy distance you should be fine.

My surgeon when asked if can run a race 5 days after surgery (it was 50 miles!)

I was upfront with him and I think he knew I was going to do it anyway. Thankfully it was a quiet day in the hospital and I was out within a few hours and I think he must have had my race in mind when he stitched up the remnants of the abscess – I’ve never had one stitched before.

Finishing the EcoTrail Paris 50 Mile the same week as surgery for a peri-anal abscess.

I completed the race without any issues from either the healing wound or the Crohn’s although with 2 weeks I was back having more surgery for another abscess!

Running with a Flareup

The flareup that I started to experience in March 2018 was the first during my short running career. Starting soon after I completed the EcoTrail Paris 50 race, the flareup could have been exacerbated by the double peri-anal abscesses but it came on fast and my running quickly tapered off to barely anything. I switched from road running to the treadmill where I was closer to a toilet but that soon failed.

Trying and Failing

With a Beer Ultra already signed up for in April I gave it a shot and managed 9 miles before calling it a day. Going forward I managed about a parkrun each month but when I started to fail those I threw in the towel. Extreme fatigue, bowel pains and the runner’s trots made running extremely difficult and rather than trying and failing I would just concede that I would have to stop running until the flareup was dealt with.

I found it difficult mentally to stop running as some people would persevere regardless so I saw it as some sort of weakness but then I accepted that we deal with problems in different ways.

Helping the Running Community

Whilst out of action I have still played an active part in the running community by photographing numerous races and parkruns and providing the photographs free-of-charge. I found it very rewarding whilst not being able to run and have kept active with my running club and met many other runners along the way.

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Diagnosed with IBD in 2002, I have experienced the usual ups and downs of having a chronic disease and tried numerous medications but the time finally came in 2018 to elect to have surgery to improve my life.

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