My name is Pippa and I suffer from Endometriosis (“Endo”). Endo has been part of my life since I was 13 years old but I was not officially diagnosed until I was 26. I was relieved when I finally knew why I had been suffering from excruciating pain for so long but on the flip side faced with the realisation that there is no cure, it can cause fertility issues and it also makes you feel isolated. I felt lonely and physically exhausted.
Doing any form of exercise with endometriosis is a challenge, but for me I have the added complication of suffering from gastritis, which has been caused by long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat the disease along with IBS symptoms. Most days I wake up in pain, so even contemplating exercise is a challenge and some days the pain is too much and I have to stay in bed. Some of the side effects from some of the treatments for Endometriosis can often lead to weight gain, so to combat this I try to exercise – which is harder said than done – as often exercise can increase the pain. However, for me personally I have found exercise a way of ironically escaping the Endo pain and at the end of a training session or run I feel a massive sense of accomplishment.
I was introduced to parkrun by my very supportive family who thought it could be something we could all do on a Saturday morning, even if we were running at different parkruns over 200 miles apart! So on a cold sunny February day last year (yes we do have sunshine in Manchester), I took part in my first parkrun as a nervous, shy and inexperienced runner. I arrived at my local parkrun to be met with what I considered to be lots of elite runners and I almost walked away before I had even started. Then a lovely person in a high-vis jacket welcomed me and asked me if it was my first time at parkrun, she then explained what happens, where to go and where the toilets were (very important information for an Endo sufferer!). Before I knew it, I was standing listening to the First Timers’ Welcome and then I was off. The elite runners ran off into the distance and I went into panic mode: what happens if I am the last one, all those volunteers waiting for me to finish, but then I had a look and saw that there were lots more “me’s” so the panic subsided and my mission began to complete my first 5k! I never did run it all and if I am honest – I walked most of it – however the encouragement I received from the other parkrunners and those amazing high-vis volunteers made me want to come back and try it again.
Running on a weekly basis is a challenge but I am determined to continue to run, so for me I mix it up; twice a month I train with a very understanding personal trainer who helps me accomplish even the smallest challenge at my training session. The other weeks when I am well enough you will find me running parkrun. On the weeks when I am not well enough to run but I can make it out of the house, you will find me volunteering at parkrun because for me it is about getting out in the fresh air and doing something positive no matter how small my contribution is.
Constantly fighting a disease on a daily basis is physically and mentally challenging, but over the years what I have realised is that for me exercising and running and/or volunteering within a friendly, happy and welcoming environment such as parkrun has helped me stay positive and given me the strength to continue to fight my battle with endometriosis.
Philippa, as one of parkrun’s Outreach Ambassadors for Endometriosis, has set up parkrun UK’s official Facebook group for parkrunners affected by endometriosis to share advice, tips, opinions and stories on all things related to parkrun. If you’re affected by endometriosis she’d love to welcome you into the group.
parkrun provides free-to- enter 5k events on Saturday mornings with a companion series of 2k events, junior parkrun, for 4-14 year olds on Sunday mornings. parkrun or junior parkrun is available at over 650 UK locations. You’re free to run, jog or walk, there’s no time pressure and everyone is equally welcomed and celebrated. Our mission is to make the world a healthier, happier planet and we’re keen to welcome people living with endometriosis to our events. You can register here.
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