Improving Fitness with Hashimoto’s Disease

I’ve been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis around five or six years ago. Those of you reading this post are probably familiar with how debilitating and incapacitating Hashimoto’s disease is. Those of you who don’t know, check out the description of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis on Mayo Clinic. I would summarize the disease as one’s body turning against itself, going full-throttle annihilation mode. It ain’t easy working out with that beast clinging to your neck.

Hashi’s and Running

Because sometimes (more often than not) Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be a b***h, it’s no wonder so many affected by this disease avoid exercise. I mean, if you don’t see a point in getting out of bed because you’re depressed and consumed in pain, going out for a run is an insurmountable feat.

The severity of Hashimoto’s symptoms varies considerably. I know people whose life has crumbled post-diagnosis. I also have a friend who seems entirely unaffected. So there’s no rule how much Hashimoto’s gets under one’s skin. I’m lucky to be affected only by occasional bouts of depression and mood swings, which, unfortunately, can get worse after intense exercise. (Did I really say only?).

So to improve your fitness when you have Hashimoto’s, you’ll be balancing a fine line between just the right amount of workouts and their intensity and adequate recovery periods. Needless to say, it’s easy to cross that line and feel exhausted beyond conceivable measure after quality sessions.

But striking that balance is very much possible.

Patience, Plenty of Patience

A year ago, when I was just starting to run consistently, every hard workout left me drained. I had to take it really slow with increasing weekly mileage and doing quality sessions. In fact, for the first few months, I could only run every other day. Otherwise, I suffered from fever-like symptoms and could do nothing more than lie in bed for the rest of the day.

Gradually, however, and with enough persistence, my fitness started improving. From working out every other day, I switched to running every day. But the transition wouldn’t have been possible without such a lengthy, months-long preparation period.

Now I can enjoy running every day and feel great. But it took time. Lots of it. Much more than what healthy people need.

I can still recall how exhausted I was after intervals in February 2019—five months after taking up running! I would come back home from a run, stretch briefly, take a shower, devour dinner, and dive into bed, barely able to move.

The breakthrough came in March. I remember doing a few quality sessions that month and feeling wonderful for the rest of the day as well as the day after, except for the expected muscle soreness. So I began adding more runs to my weekly routine until I got to the point where I was running six to seven times a week. This was sometime around April 2019. I haven’t looked back since.

Plow Through, My Dear

The most important thing with Hashimoto’s and exercise is to not give up. It sounds like a bad cliché, but persistence and patience in training pay off enormously in the long run (pun intended). My experience taught me that even though the road might be long and daunting, it’s possible to achieve the goal waiting at the end of it. But prepare yourself for the inevitable exhaustion and take it as slow as your body needs it.

Maja

Personal bests: 5K - 20:48 10K - 43:48

2 thoughts on “Improving Fitness with Hashimoto’s Disease

  1. Anna says:

    Although I don’t have a Hashimoto’s like you, I found it hard to start running due to my high pulse. The shortest distances made me just wanna die. After two failed attempts, I said to myself “Take it easy, run at a slow pace, don’t rush it”. It’s so true that persistence and patience pay off. Today, I’m still not a pro but I love this morning run and finally can catch a breath 🙂

    Reply
    1. maja says:

      Taking it slow is difficult, especially when you see so little progress compared to the time you spend training. I’m struggling with something similar currently. It’s unnerving, but I know that sooner or later my fitness will improve and get back to my pre-break level. But it takes sooo long 😉

      Reply

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