Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Narcolepsy Turned Me Into a Marathon Runner

I ran my first marathon a little over three years ago. I was diagnosed with narcolepsy only a little over two years ago. If it wasn’t for narcolepsy, I probably wouldn’t have become a marathoner. 

Very few people know about narcolepsy; including doctors. So when I asked doctors why I am tired all the time even though I sleep A LOT, I kept getting vague answers like: 

You’re over stressed.

You may be depressed. 

You’re too active.

You’re not active enough. 

I was active. I was a long distance cyclist and picked up running to stay fit during the off season. But I did notice I’d do good with my workouts for the first part of the week but by Wednesday I could barely drag myself out the door, let alone get in a decent workout. 

I thought it was just me not being enthusiastic about working out several days a week, or being over worked, or not having the will power. So, I thought, maybe if I could just be consistent with my workouts; if I could just stick to workouts three times a week, I wouldn’t be tired all the time. After all, you always hear that working out gives you energy. 

But what would motivate me to stick to the plan no matter what? After some thought, I decided I needed to sign up for a marathon. Well, not just sign up for a marathon, but also join a team so I wouldn’t be able to drop out of training unnoticed. So I did. And it worked. 

When you are staring down the barrel of a marathon race, you will not skip your workouts! So even later in the week I would drag myself out the door and run. So it worked to keep me more consistent with my workouts. And when I ran, I felt alert and ‘normal’ for an hour or so afterwards. So that was great! 

But the everyday tiredness persisted. So while training for a marathon gave me temporary relief from the excessive sleepiness, my day to day symptoms were unchanged. 

Finally, I was able to find a doctor that didn't write me off and we found the true reason for my excessive tiredness. But that's a whole other story, which you can find here.

But for now, I'll keep running..... 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow!! Such an inspiration!!