Training with Crohn’s

Hey all!  I’ve decided, after a couple of months, to update my plan a bit!  As it is, it’s always changing.  The key to any successful fitness or training program, I suppose, is its ability to adapt – to adapt to new schedules, to adapt to injuries, to adapt to sickness, etc.  With that in mind, my plan has shifted to keeping some key factors in mind, which I have found crucial to achieving anything athletic with Crohn’s Disease (or for anybody, I would suspect!).

It’s all about mindset” is my new motto, and hopefully you understand why after reading below!

  1. Stay happy!MudderNC23

    • This is huge for anyone!!! But, it is a necessity for an IBD patient.  Stress wears you out! Unnecessarily stressing out over the small stuff (and its all small stuff) can cause your symptoms to flare, leading to fatigue, joint pain, immense cramping, and more.
    • So, how do you do it? I’m certainly no guru! I’m still working on it, without a doubt! But I can tell you that reading books such “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and Its All Small Stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson have certainly helped me.  I’ve found that it’s all about the mindset you have, and we’ll get into that a bit later!
  2. Stay hydrated!

    • This is ESSENTIAL for any athlete! How much should you be drinking? Well, a generally accepted number is about a gallon throughout a day for an athlete.  Now, can you imagine what that number looks like for someone with IBD, who doesn’t absorb water efficiently?!
    • So how do you deal with IBD and hydration? I’ve found that drinking a ton of water throughout the day is huge, but also mixing in electrolyte drinks (like Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) is the key.  Don’t forget that IBD can often cause electrolyte imbalance, and drinking more water can actually drain your body from electrolytes if not combined with extra electrolyte intake!
  3. Train when you feel like it, train when you don’t!

    1. I don’t mean to say here to train all day, every day.  In fact, I urge you to make sure your body is getting enough rest! Instead, I’m suggesting to find a way to train when you need to, despite how your feeling that day. MudderNC15
    2. A tip – Keep a list handy of all of the reasons that you’re doing what you’re doing: to prove something to yourself, to prove someone else wrong, to motivate someone else, to repay some great debt that we all owe to society.  Take that list out whenever you’re feeling down, or when you’re having that urge to “just do it tomorrow”.
  4. Make time to relax!

    • Two things here: Firstly, your body needs rest. If you train and train and train and train, your body will eventually say, “NO. NO MORE.”
    • Secondly, YOUR MIND NEEDS REST.  Putting pressure on yourself to wake-up 7 days a week at 4:30am to go swim and run and bike is nuts (I speak from experience here).  You put an unnecessary stress on yourself (which, as mentioned above, you shouldn’t do), and you eventually end up breaking down.  Let’s hope, for your sake, that you flip the switch at someone who knows you well enough to let it go!
  1. Change your MINDSET, change your LIFE.

    • This has been my biggest personal goal lately: to completely overhaul my mindset. But, what do I mean by changing my mindset, or changing yours?  Well, quite frankly, Dr. Carol Dweck does a much better job explaining the concept in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”.  Regardless, I’ll try to give you some key points.
    • There are two types of mindsets: the GROWTH mindset, and the FIXED mindset. The fixed-MudderNC25mindset person believes more in talent than in hard-work, more in the idea that losers always lose, and winners always win.  When someone with a fixed-mindset fails, he or she is more likely to give-up altogether.  In contrast, someone with a GROWTH mindset has the ability to embrace failure – he or she sees it as a chance for improvement; that with hard-work and dedication, perhaps that failure can be turned into a learning opportunity for future success.  That’s not to say that someone with a Growth mindset cannot be disappointed in himself or herself, but rather that he or she will move on from that disappointment and be able to keep moving forward.
    • That’s perhaps the best advice of all: Just Keep Moving Forward.  You will have ups, you will have downs.  You will have days where you exceed all imaginable personal goals, and days where you just feel…off.  Your background with or without disease is irrelevant.  Ups and downs are phases of any athlete, of any life.  It is your choice what to do with those ups and downs, you can take advantage of them or throw them aside in waste.

So, I leave you to train, as I will be doing right now! Please, I encourage your feedback in the comments section below, any advice you may have, or any stories you have from your own training experiences!

Best regards,


4 thoughts on “Training with Crohn’s

  1. Hi Matthew, my name is George, great story and blog. As a fellow IBD sufferer (Ulcerative Colitis) I fully understand where you are coming from. I have been a sufferer for 15 years but it is only recently I have taken up sport again. I am currently training for my first big Ultra, I have done a 50km but my 1st 50 miler is next April, but I am struggling with my nutrition. I have run 4 marathons in the last 18 months with a PB of 3:05:36 but when I try to run further in training my UC kicks in. I can’t take these sport gels or certain sport drinks and rely solely on water. Any advice on how you cope with these longer training runs/ food you eat would be great. By the way I am 6’4 and 210lb. All the best. George


    1. Hey George, that’s great!! The racing, that is!

      Sorry to hear about your nutritional issues. I suppose my best advice is to experiment, which can suck. I’ve tried a lot of supplements, and had a lot of aches, but eventually found a set that work for me. Fortunately, GU training gels do work pretty well for me. They also make energy blocks, which agree with me a bit more (similar to the Gatorade pre-exercise blocks). I also find that Gatorade and Powerade do help with electrolyte hydration and other.

      But again, it was all about experimenting and figuring it out, most often the hard way.

      I’m proud of you for doing all that you’ve done, and all that you plan to do with your Ultra! Best of luck! You’re truly an inspiration!



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