I'm 35 years old and my running is linked with my disease.
16 months ago i was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease sarcoidosis, which has no cure and no known cause. The first signs of the illness began 18 months before that, and had affected my mood to such a degree that i gave up cycling and tennis after being good at both for most of my twenties. Consequently my fitness had dropped considerably. I had put on an extra stone. The disease had attacked my lungs and left it with scarring. After the diagnosis (by bronchoscopy) i was put on a high dosage of corticosteroids (predisolone). These drugs make most people balloon up and there was no way that was going to happen to me so i starting running, early in the morning, on the very first day of my medication.
The first run was hard work. I used my heart rate monitor so I could see exactly what my heart was doing, on the first slight gradient my heart was up in the 170's even though I was hardly moving. After the first mile I had to walk and let my heart drop before continuing the 2-mile circuit. I was in very poor shape but the exercise helped me mentally. However, I had serious concerns about whether I was ever going to get fit again? The only thing I could do was persist.
About every six weeks throughout 2007 I saw my specialist who did the usual blood test and chest x-ray and then gave me the good news that he was going to drop my medication by 5mg. My mood dropped with every drop in pills, prednisolone can make you elated. I'm currently down to 7.5mg a day, but can't drop anymore at the moment because the disease becomes active again.
My lifestyle has changed in many ways. I now have a strict routine and strict diet. Certain foods make me feel like shit for some reason so i try to stick to a clean diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta. My binges changed to blueberries and raspberries – much better for me and actually nicer tasting, but ironically more expensive than all junk food put together. I haven't touched alcohol at all since being on the steroids and this has been no problem at all to live with.
Mentally, getting into a new routine was hard at first, but persistence does pay off. Mainly I keep myself going by keeping sarcoidosis in my mind, and a spirit of not wanting to be beaten by it, it is a good motivation.
I have continued to run every other morning and i now do between 10 and 20 miles a week going out at 6am. It's extremely hilly round here and i actually live on the top of a hill, so every direction i go in the morning is downhill. I have one 6 mile route which is exactly 3 miles down hill followed by 3 miles up hill and, including warm up and warm down, I manage an 8 minute mile and i'm fairly pleased with that. I manage a 7 minute mile on the flat and i always use my heart rate monitor and try to stay within my zones, usually doing one interval training run a week. This is fine for me.
Without my morning run i would be lost.