One section Tales From Another Mother Runner is called In Her Shoes, which is first-person accounts of different running situations and tales. We love running stories as much as—or maybe more than?—running itself, but we had a surplus of In Her Shoes stories...if we put them all in the book, it would've been bigger than a dictionary. So we're going to run these every other Friday for a while.
Kassandra's miles are harder to come by, thanks to lupus.
I love the idea of training in a very measured, consistent way. But I have lupus, a chronic autoimmune condition. I need to let my body guide me, or I risk making the situation worse. It is easy for me to push through pain. It is far harder to back off, run less, and rest when my body needs me to.
Unlike that good running fatigue, my lupus-related fatigue feels like I’ve suddenly hit a dense wall of fog that I hadn’t seen a few steps before. It’s that surprising. My body wants to stop immediately. So if I’m running outside, I have to make sure one of my loved ones knows my route, and is available to come get me in a moment’s notice. I can’t really just head out the door for a run.
If I didn’t have lupus, and I were super-fatigued and in a lot of pain, I would probably rest. That would make a lot of sense. The thing with lupus is physical activity can actually help decrease the inflammation. It becomes this difficult balance: Should I be resting, or should I be moving?
As a perfectionist, attorney, mom, and woman, I want to think I can do it all at all times. Lupus, which I was diagnosed with two years ago, has been both incredibly humbling—I have to be aware of my limits—and life affirming. I feel such gratitude when I can engage in the things I love. Even though I might want to stay in bed in the morning, I broaden my perspective and think, “Wait. My body is ready to go. I can handle this today.”
I am eagerly training for my first marathon, putting in the miles. Lupus compels me to do a lot of things I should do as a runner anyway, like practice yoga, keep my nutrition on point, eat an anti-inflammatory diet, and pay attention to hydration.
I don’t know what my pain level will be on marathon day. But I want to show up, even if I can only run 12—or 22—miles. I want to be able to live without regret and not let my condition define my experience.
—Kassandra (She was unable to run that marathon. "Lupus thinks my joints are particularly tasty," she says, "However, I am running religiously in the pool and am undergoing intensive physical therapy to encourage my body to cooperate. I have high hopes for a fall marathon this year.")
Feels a little insensitive to ask a question like "Are you suffering from lupus?" at the end of this post, but we're in awe of mothers like Kassandra who have another layer to conquer in order to run. Are you one of those women whose body doesn't always want to cooperate—but you're still going for it?