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Erin: MS Isn’t Going to Control Me

My Running Addiction

Being a mother of three boys (a 7, 6 and almost 5 year old) running can be difficult at times, but I never miss a run. Even if it means going out and running back and forth on the same stretch of ground over and over while they run, walk, or sometimes even crawl behind me. Or pounding out 22 km on a treadmill because it’s -40C (and since I’m going for “Mother of the Year,” I gave my boys the day off following me outside).

Running the same stretch back and forth

Running the same stretch back and forth

My addiction to running started in 2002 while on a work visa in Australia. All the Aussies made it look so effortless, running on the beach, glistening in the sun. Being Canadian I didn’t exactly glisten, I was more of a sweat-drenched mess (and that was just lacing up). Despite the challenge, the more I ran the more I craved the sweat and glorious exhaustion.

When I came back to Canada I ran hard for about a year then took some time off. I got married and had three boys all in four years (yes I drink a lot of wine). Then in 2009, in dire need of a stress reliever, I began to run again.

I remembered how even the shortest run could clear my head, put a smile on my face, and make me forget my crazy day.

In 2009, eight months pregnant with my third baby, my mom passed away. She suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and, after a 15-year downhill battle, she passed peacefully with my dad by her side. Between my mother’s passing, my husband working on the road for weeks, and sometimes months, at a time and my three EXTREMELY energetic boys (love them till the end of the world), I had a lot on my plate. This is about the time I started adding weight training to my running schedule. Between the runs and weights, I felt I could control my stress levels in a healthy way (I get runner’s high like you wouldn’t believe).

Erin: MS Isn't Going to Control Me

My Diagnosis

In 2010, during a run, my eyes became very sensitive and I started to see flashes of light. This lasted about an hour then went away. A couple of weeks later my left hand and arm went numb. Having watched my mom fight for so long I knew exactly what was wrong. The more symptoms I experienced, the more I would work out. Between running, fitness class, strength training, and yoga I was working out upwards of 11 times a week. I tried to fight my symptoms with exercise for about a year then finally, in early spring, my mind and body broke down. There was no amount of running (or wine) that would fix it. In May of 2013 I was diagnosed with M.S., which  I call my “little set back.”

Even though deep down I had known for a couple of years, it was still the most devastating news of my life. I always thought I had the get out of jail free card because the doctors say its not hereditary and I had lived a substantially healthier life than my mother. The big question now was “how am I going to be a good mum or wife with this disease?” The selfish part of me even thought, “how am I going to run?”. I saw how the disease took everything from my mom—her ability to walk and take care of herself, and even her mind. I believed that it was just a matter of time before I could no longer walk, care for myself, and care for my family.

After I got the news I hid for a month. My kids where the only reason I got out of bed in the morning (they’re loud when they’re hungry!). One morning as my boys and I were laying in bed and going through all my Runkeeper saved workouts, we came across a race I had run a year prior. It was 27 km. Here I am laying in bed waiting for the worst, and a year ago I was training for a baby ultra marathon.

Making the Best Out of Every Day I’m Alive

That’s when I decided MS wasn’t going to control me. A few days later I went out for my first run as an MS “success” patient.

I ran 10 km in 48 minutes then fell to my knees sobbing on some stranger’s lawn because I did it! I ran. I have MS and I ran (and set my new 10k PR).

The poor man who’s lawn I collapsed on didn’t know if he should put down his rake and give me a hug or call the cops. So I stood up, said good morning with tears and snot running down my face, and walked away with a huge smile.

It’s been almost a year since my diagnosis. I would be lying if I said I don’t get freaked out and a little panicky from time to time thinking about the future, but I’ve decided to take it one day at a time and I’m going to make the best out of every day I’m alive.

Erin: MS Isn't Going to Control Me

Running helps me deal with my kids, my wonderful husband and my diagnosis.

Every time I’m out there, good run or bad run, it reminds me that I still have full use of my body and mind.

Runkeeper has helped me set goals and track my progress allowing me to challenge myself each and every workout. I love looking back and seeing how many miles I have run since becoming a wife, a mother, and since my “little set back.”

I control my MS with daily copaxon injections, keeping fit, a very strict Paleo diet (and wine). I want to share my addiction for running and fitness with others. In the Spring of 2014 I will be taking my MMA level 1 and my fitness kickboxing course in hopes of one day instructing and showing others how major roadblocks in life don’t have to slow you down. [tweet this].

Erin: MS Isn't Going to Control Me

Erin Ducharme

About the author:
Erin Ducharme

Erin is a very active and hardworking mother of 3 young boys. She has always been focused on staying healthy, but her passion for fitness came to the forefront after the birth of her children. Erin completed her first half marathon in 2011 and has competed and placed in many other races of varying distances since then. Even after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013 she remained committed to staying healthy and took her knowledge of nutrition to a whole new level. Combining her passions for fitness and nutrition Erin hopes to inspire others, including her boys, to reach their goals despite what obstacles stand in their way. She hopes to soon start teaching Mixed Martial Arts and Kickboxing and prove that MS doesn't have to slow you down.

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