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Small Breakdowns: When Running Gets To Me

In my outward appearance, I’m sure I look like I’ve got it figured out to some. I’m not even discussing the invisible nature of my symptoms. Even for those that read my writing and know how I’m plagued by things like pain, fatigue, and cognitive issues, I might still seem like I’m dealing with them well and that I’m managing my disease well. I guess, for the most part, some of that is true. I’m doing the best I can at battling the disease and trying to still eke out a fulfilling life. I’d even go as far as saying, I’m doing OK at that. I do still have some moments and triggers that really get to me though, sometimes I’ll see something and every once in a while it will make me break down. The other day, I was out walking my dog and someone ran by us. It got to me; it really overwhelmed me, and I sat down and burst into tears for the first time in a very long time.

Running was a big part of my life

This may sound insane to most, I’m sure, but as a long-time avid runner, when I see people running, or hear them talking about it, I will sometimes excuse myself and have a small breakdown. The same can be said of hockey, though I always knew when that when I got to a certain age, I likely wouldn’t be playing or playing at the level that I once did. I guess I always thought running would be there in some capacity though. I have so many fond memories of running. Whether it be training for marathons with my sister, or getting ready for the next 5K with my uncle, or even coaching track and cross country, running was a big part of my life. I even still ran for a long time after my diagnosis, until I couldn’t. Eventually, enough myelin had been damaged and I was issued a cane and then eventually even prescribed a scooter (which I haven’t used yet).

It seems like running is everywhere

I get around well for the issues that I have. I admit, I don’t always use my cane, even though life is so much easier with it. That often leads to a lot of dangerous falls (including a pretty bad one through a glass window). I know I need to use my cane more; I’m not even sure why I don’t. Whenever I go to the doctor, I do a walking test, and well, let’s just say, it’s not an exam that I’ve managed to improve upon over the years. So realistically, I know that my running days are over, and that hurts at times, particularly when it seems like everyone and their brother are beginning to get into running. It seems like it’s everywhere. Everyone is training for something, even people that in the past would never think to go running. Even the MS Walk, while not the same as a 5K, seems like an especially cruel joke to me some years, because actually being able to do the walk can be so difficult for me.

Some things I likely won’t overcome

So yeah, I have some breakdowns. I see someone running on the side of the road or hear someone discussing their next 5K, and I go and hide and shed a small tear. Because no matter how well I’ve handled my disease, a loss is a loss, and it’s painful. I’ve overcome a lot with my disease, but I know there are some things that even I likely won’t overcome. For me, that means I’ll probably never run a 5K again (and I still say “probably” because I am still a stubborn bastard). The thing is, it’s not that it’s always about “never” or the future, it’s that I want to be running right now. I want to put on my shoes and go for a nice run, and right now, I can’t do that. For me, that’s upsetting.

Hold your head up

While running is something that can cause me to have a mini breakdown, I’m sure everyone has something. I think it’s OK to occasionally have those breakdowns, it’s OK to shed a tear at a loss now and again. Just as long as you pick yourself up and keep going. Dry your eyes and remember that you’ve still accomplished a lot. Even by simply still being alive with this disease, you have something to hold your head up and be proud about. Pride in one thing doesn’t always lessen the loss of another though. So if you have something that you miss, I understand. I think most of us do, and I think that’s OK.

Thanks for reading!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • CatDancer
    1 year ago

    There is one thing I can say here… With everything you’ve been through: you’re stronger than any runner. You run a marathon everyday. To have the courage and strength to get up everyday, you are a true warrior. And yeah, I’m sure you don’t want to be a warrior and neither do I but you’ve fought so hard. I try to tell myself: at least I had those days and I know the value of them. Most people take this for granted and have no clue that having a fully functional body is a gift. I just wish I had’ve fully enjoyed them more when I did. XO

  • Mascha
    1 year ago

    Again great article:)
    Yes I miss playing tennis. I loved it. But I also loved just being active.
    I cannot always see tennis on TV,it makes me sad sometimes.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you Mascha!

  • collena
    1 year ago

    I think the cane serves me more as the visual cue strangers need to not just think I’m a mid-day drunk, which used to be true a long time ago (so maybe it’s just my imagination). There is a wheelchair in my garage that I pray I’ll stay out of.

    Everytime I get handed a clipboard with a ‘fill this out’ it hits me again fresh that I can’t write legibly. With either hand.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you collena! I feel the same way about my cane a lot, it’s a great way to show that I’m not actually day drunk!

  • dawggrad
    1 year ago

    Hi Devin,

    First, I’d like to say how much I’ve enjoyed your articles. They’re so relatable, and they often hit me where I am. I’m sure they do that for many.

    I’ve also seen the running craze, and I applaud everyone who can do it who enjoys it. I certainly wish I could be one of them.

    I enjoyed playing tennis – doubles. I miss it terribly. I realized yesterday how much I’ve missed it. It’s been six years, and it has been tough without it. The thing I remembered was the “bubble” I was in when I played. When I took a lesson or had a match, I was so focused on what I needed to be doing that I didn’t have time to worry about all the challenges of life. I wasn’t a natural at tennis, and I didn’t learn until I was an adult, so I was always working to execute the strategy, or focus on what my coach was teaching or had already taught me. I didn’t have the time to worry about any real life stress or drama, what I was going to eat for dinner, or if I might develop MS one day. I enjoyed the challenge of improving, so I was only focused on what was happening on that tennis court. Those two hours were a huge escape, and I miss that terribly. I really needed that time away from the world when my brain and my thoughts weren’t going at a hundred miles a minute.

    I’m not sure if I described it the right way, or if it is even relevant to you. I just know how much I’ve needed an escape or a bubble, and how much I’ve struggled to find a new one.

    Regarding the cane, you might want to give it a second thought. You might not, which I also understand. I fall frequently (about 10 times since May), and the doctor recommended that I start using other devices as well. I use a wheelchair when I go out, but I’ve wanted to maintain the ability to walk, so I walk upstairs in our house in roughly ten- to twenty-yard increments. While it makes me feel better to use those muscles, the doctor reminded me that breaking my hip or some bones in my legs could result in surgeries that would involve long, lengthy and pretty tough recoveries. I’m not at all interested in getting into a situation like that, so I envision myself heeding his advice to me.

    Again, thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. All the best to you.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much for sharing dawggrad! I very much understand what you mean about finding that escape. It’s something I still struggle with. I actually just talked about some of my attempts too:

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