Life With UC

Most of you know, because I’ve mentioned before on the blog, that I have Ulcerative Colitis, an auto-immune disease that attacks the digestive system. And while this blog is about running {for all types of runners} my running life absolutely influences what I choose to write about. I want to keep the daily posts about running and training, but I get a lot of questions about how I continue to run and work out with my IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease–sexy, right?). This page will be dedicated entirely to that topic.

This section is not for everyone. The content might get a little graphic at times, as we in the IBD community share freely our symptoms and side-effects, so please don’t be offended if you read something that grosses you out. Just don’t click on this page and expect rainbows and unicorns. At best, it’s bathroom talk that’s inappropriate cocktail hour conversation.

For my friends in the IBD community, welcome. What questions do you have for me about working out with your IBD? I’ll kick it off with some information I’ve learned along the way, but this is an open forum. Please either ask a question in the comments section or email me at runstrongereveryday<at>gmail<dot>com. Share your journey and what’s worked/absolutely not worked for you in your workout world.

Let’s get this party started!


  • Diagnosis: Ulcerative Colitis
  • Date of diagnosis: 4/09
  • Drugs used: Apriso, Canasa, Proctofoam, Hydrocortisone Enema, Prednisone, Mercaptopurine (6MP), Remicade, Humira, and some crazy-expensive experimental one that no insurance plan covers that had to be made by a chemist. Whoa.


Q. Have you discussed with anyone the possibility of IBD being connected with high impact cardio (as in running), or experienced it yourself? Looking back, I seem to have shown these same symptoms during fad running phases in my life.Β Most recently as I increased speed and time on the treadmill my symptoms hit the hardest. My theory is that the shock from high impact may exacerbate or catalyze the affliction. Why not? Impact affects bones, brains, ligaments and other soft tissue. ~Russell

Hi Russell, welcome to our community and thank you for your question. For starters, let’s say a few things about IBD. It’s an auto-immune disease that attacks the lining of the digestive track (entire thing: Crohn’s, just the colon: Colitis). We know very little about what causes flare-ups and they seem to be intimately with the individual. Meaning, what makes me flare may do nothing at all to you. There are universal things that seem to cause problems: stress is often associated with them and certain foods exacerbate the symptoms. Beyond that, we don’t know causation, only correlation.

As a longtime runner (22 years) and a fitness freak, my level of exercise was a primary concern for me as I began the journey to control my UC. My doctor is a highly decorated IBD specialist here in NYC whom I love and trust. When another doctor in the practice (who happened to see me one day because he was out and I needed a quickie consultation) suggested I taper back my exercise, I was heartbroken. The next week when I saw MY doctor and tearfully mentioned this he had this to say (I’m paraphrasing):

No studies have shown that a reduction in exercise for someone who is accustomed to their current level of exercise has any benefit in preventing or stopping flare-ups. The idea that the blood flow to the muscles is somehow impeding the blood flow to the damaged tissue is a theory that quite a few old-school doctors subscribe to. I am not one of them. I know you. And I know that stress is a major factor in this disease. And I know that if I told you not to run or workout that that would make you more stressed out than anything else in the world and probably make you a whole lot sicker. In fact, many more recent studies have shown that regular exercise can HELP IBD patients. So, you go run. Listen to your body. Make sure you come in for blood work and eat as healthy as is possible with your diet restrictions. You and me, we’ll game-plan this, ok?

To which I immediately sniffed, sat up straight and replied, “Ok.”

Healthy individuals who run have bathroom issues while running because the bouncing motion moves whatever is in your digestive track right along. Your internal anal sphincter responds to pressure and when you bounce, the pressure and weight of the stool is compounded by the force of the motion. Ergo, you have stool in your descending colon, it’s going to knock on your sphincter’s door a lot harder when you run. It is worse for IBD patients because there is usually swelling around the area of our sigmoid colon and we feel like we have to go a lot faster and a lot more often than the average bear.

Does impact affect the tissue of our digestive system? Not specifically. The tissues of our body are completely different and specialized to their job. Is running going to damage your digestive tissue? Probably not. However, if your symptoms (like most IBD patients) include diarrhea, constipation and bloody stool, you will most definitely see more of this during your running because running speeds up bowel movements.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run. Maybe you don’t run as hard or for as long when you’re having a rough day/flare-up. You certainly should get with an IBD nutritionist and have blood work done to make sure your diet is sufficiently replacing what your body is losing. When my flare-ups are particularly bad, I do spin classes to avoid the never-ending bathroom breaks. Great workout, less pooping.

Bottom line (ha!) is, whatever works for you works for you. But please don’t be afraid to exercise, just take it easy when you need to and push hard when you don’t! I hope this helps!

Q. I have UC, and I’m looking for some good core exercises to do. I have found that the tension caused by most of the ones I know, even planks, upsets my gut. What else can I do?~GYGIG community

You are in luck! Doing abdominal work isn’t the only way to strengthen your core. In fact, the best way to strengthen your core is to stand up/sit up straight all day long. Sounds a lot easier than it is, right? Try not slouching all day and this will help strengthen your core more than any abs exercises.

Beyond that, there are so many other ways to work your core! Any and every balancing exercise will work your core, as does anything done on your feet using the cable machines. It may not feel like it, but up the weight and be militant with your motions and this will engage your core. Nothing else will hold your upper body from moving around with the cable motion besides your core.Β 

The other exercise I would recommend is yoga. For you, I’d recommend a flow (vinyasa) yoga that is constantly moving and requires very precise, controlled motions from pose to pose. My obliques are never as sore as when I do a yoga class. It’s craaaaazy!

So, get off the floor and start challenging your balance and controlled motions with cross-cables and yoga for a stronger, more supportive core.

Q. How were you first diagnosed? ~Twitter community

As a runner and a fitness professional, I am pretty in-tune with my body. I noticed some changes in my bowel movements and blood in my stool. I had severe constipation and cramping, despite eating super-healthy (lots of fiber!) and drinking tons of water. I went to GI because my paternal grandmother died of colon cancer at age 57 and I wasn’t going to take any chances.

I hated my first GI. He didn’t take a family history or health history and told me it was probably just hemorrhoids. I told him about my grandmother and only then did he agree to do a colonoscopy. When I was waking up from anesthesia, he told me I had colitis and that he’d just prescribe me steroids. When I finally came to my senses at home, I Googled my diagnosis, researched the best place to go in NYC for my disease, called his office and had them send over my colonoscopy results and never looked back.

So, there you go. Your body is talking to you all the time. You just have to listen and when things aren’t normal, be diligent with finding a doctor who listens to you and will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the problem, so to speak. I love Dr. Boz, PAK and my entire team at Cornell. I trust them implicitly and then always make time to answer my questions. IBD is scary and you need to be able to trust your team and the course of treatment in order to navigate the ins and outs of it effectively. Trust your “gut”.

Q. I have UC, too, and wish I could do all the stuff you do but I’m too tired. Aren’t you tired? And how to you overcome this? ~N from Amsterdam

Well, hello Amsterdam! So happy to reach such a wide audience πŸ™‚ I do a lot, more than the average amount of working out. However, I think the average is totally bogus and we, a humans, are meant to MOVE! First off, I am anemic during flare-ups so my doctor and my nutritionist do blood work almost weekly to make sure I have the right amount of vitamins and that my iron levels are sufficient. This helps enormously. When I am anemic and need an iron IV, I cannot describe the fatigue I feel. It’s overwhelming.

Second, I work out because I feel better when I do. I don’t let my UC stop my workouts, though I do modify them for the symptoms I’m having (diarrhea, constipation, excessive bleeding) and maybe spin instead of running more these days. I find that the more I work out, the more energy I have. But that has always been the case with me.

I suggest this to my flaring, IBD, new-to-exercise friends: start slowly. Add exercise every other day. Maybe start by walking on the treadmill or outdoors with a friend. Graduate to something more strenuous after 3-4 weeks and add 2 days of lifting weights to your routine. After that, mix it up and challenge yourself. Some days you might have more energy than others, depending on where you are in your flare, but it is always better for you to get outside for a short walk than to sit around all day, depressed about your disease.

If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, bike. If you can’t bike, try the elliptical. If the elliptical isn’t for you, swim. There’s always something you can do, so go out and do it. But make sure your blood levels are good before you get going on anything. You may need a B12 booster or iron IV to get you going. Good luck! Let me know how you’re doing!

Q. The colon is essential in hydration. Any tips on staying hydrated with IBD? Do electrolyte pills help? ~GYGIG community

It’s a common misconception that the colon plays such a large role in our water absorption. In fact, only 10-15% of the water our bodies absorb is through the colon (large intestine), rather the majority is absorbed in the small intestine. The problem with IBD is diarrhea. That’s where we lose the water, sodium and potassium necessary for hydration, especially when we combine diarrhea with exercise.

Water isn’t enough for hydration. The sodium-potassium (electrolyte) balance in your blood stream must be in balance in order for the cells in your body to absorb any water at all. No electrolytes = no water absorption = hyponatremia. No good.

There are a few things you can do to help your body out when you’re dealing with dehydration due to diarrhea and trying to maintain a workout schedule:

  1. Don’t overdo it with the fluids. Too much is just as bad as too little.
  2. Pay attention to your sweat during endurance workouts. Sweating = good. Not sweating = bad.
  3. Hydrate before, during and after exercise for maximum effect.
  4. Make sure you’re drinking Gatorade (or some other electrolyte replacement drink) or adding NUUN tablets to your water bottle when you’re working out. Energy gels and chews also have electrolytes so eat up!
  5. Get your blood tested regularly and get IV fluids (iron, potassium, etc.) when needed.
  6. Be sure to get enough rest between workouts.
  7. Take it easy on the caffeine.
  8. Listen to your body.

Have fun out there and be safe!

Q. How do you stay motivated when your gut is being inconsistent or when you’re starting to flare? ~GYGIG community Β 

Oh man, it’s hard. For me, motivation comes from the answer to: “Why are you doing this? Why are you pushing so hard? Why don’t you just give up?” Me: “Because I can. Because I have to. Because I won’t, not EVER, give up.” I refuse to let UC get the best of me and take away what I love. I love to run, cycle, lift, work out, walk, try new things and UC makes some of those things impossible some days. But the questions are always there, “Why are you doing this? Why are you pushing so hard? Why don’t you just give up?” “Because I can. Because I have to. Because I won’t, not EVER, give up.”

You have to have a reason for doing it. A reason that compels you to keep going when it’s harder than you ever thought it would be. I think of my family, my husband and everyone out there who has it worse than me. And I run another mile. And I stay for a second spin class. And I grab the 40-pound kettle bell instead of the 30. Because I can. Because I have to. Because I won’t, not EVER, give up.”

No one ever regretted a workout they did, only the ones they didn’t do. If it’s in you, if you can, you must.

Q. How is running through a flare-up different than running through remission? ~R

It depends entirely on your flare-up symptoms. For me, it’s mostly diarrhea (and everything that goes along with that) and sometimes a fever. With the diarrhea, I lose more fluid and blood than when I’m in remission and because IBD patients can’t take iron pills, it means closely monitoring my blood test results with my nutritionist. She keeps track of all of the pertinent levels, especially sodium, potassium and iron. I sometimes have to get iron IVs and extra hydration at my doctor’s office to keep up with the loss.

Best thing is to pay attention to how you feel, be in touch with your doctor and make sure that you have your blood drawn and checked frequently. It is totally possible to exercise through a flare-up, it’s helpful for my stress levels for sure, but be sure to check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.

Q.Β Hey Abby! Can you give me some running advice? I’ve gotten back into running after a several year break, mostly due to UC. I’m doing OK while I’m running, but after I usually have to use the bathroom. I’m thinking that between eating more energy gels and stuff, and increased fruits and veggies, it’s having a negative effect on my colon. Do you notice this at all? What do you do to keep things under control? I don’t want my attempts at fitness to send me back into a flare. ~M

Hi M! Great question. When I’m not flaring, just about everything is fine with me: Shot Bloks, fruits, veggies, whatever. I like Shot Bloks and Honey Stingers for mid-run fuel. I also use either Vitamin Water or Propel for alternatives to water (very important to get those electrolytes since I sweat like a beast). I give myself plenty of time before I run to hit the bathroom and usually only have one visit to make during a run, if that, but definitely have more movement after.

During a flare-up, everything changes. For me, all raw veggies are a no-no. Fruits with seeds (raspberries, strawberries) and fibrous fruits are off-limits, too. No red meat, no dairy, nothing with any added fiber (ex. Kashi brand anything, fibrous carbohydrates). Nuts are out, so is alcohol and cruciferous vegetables (even when cooked).

I continue to run through flare-ups, but am usually limited to the treadmill because of the proximity to the bathrooms. I find that my mid-run fuels are all still fine (I don’t usually have stomach problems–all the problems happen in my colon) and I make sure that I have them on hand when I’m running more than 7-8 miles, even on the treadmill. I have to stop anywhere from once to (usually) somewhere around five times to use the bathroom on a shorter run. Long runs, it can be upwards of about every mile. For twenty miles, that’s a lot of bathroom stops.

It’s extremely important to remain hydrated with something other than water during a flare-up since symptoms usually include more bowel movements than normal. I need the fuel (salt, potassium, sugar, calories) a little more often, but not that much. It’s the fluids that I notice I need the most.

I’ve run two marathons through flare-ups: Jersey (nightmare) and Philly (not so bad). I put a plan together with Dr. Boz before Philly and it made all the difference. Take it easy and know your limits. Flare-ups are tied to stress and working yourself to the bone (even in a healthy way, like working out) is no good. Start back slowly and listen to your body. Talk to your doctor and get a blood workup with the nutritionist to make sure you’re all set with vitamin and mineral levels before you get going again. Most IBD patents are deficient in more than one vitamin and need supplements.

Hope this helps!


{All content is opinion and experienced-based and is not meant to substitute for any doctor’s advice. Please consult your physician before beginning any and all exercise and nutrition programs. IBD symptoms and treatments are very specific to the individual. None of the advice or opinions here are meant to be taken as cures or suggested treatment routes, but merely as anecdotal experience and opinion.}

44 thoughts on “Life With UC

  1. Pingback: Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Hindsight « run stronger every day

  2. Hi Abby! I’m so happy to see you are talking about training with UC. I don’t have Crohn’s or Colitis, but I’m training for a half marathon with Team Challenge NJ to benefit the CCFA. My husband has Crohn’s Disease and we are mentoring teammates this season who also have IBD. I’m going to share your site with the team so they can reach out to you with specific questions. Please check out and share our fundraising site to help us reach our goal
    Thank you!

    • So awesome, Melissa! Thanks for participating with Team Challenge, what an awesome group. Have your team send me questions and I’ll be happy to answer them! Good luck with your training.

  3. Hey Abby,
    I also have u.c , and I see you as a big example! I wish I could do al the things you do.
    Unfortunatly I am always tired!! Arent you, and how do you overcome this? I wish you all the best and I hope you can answer my question.
    Greetings from Amsterdam

  4. Hey Abby,

    Thanks for being an inspiration. I am in the process of being diagnosed with IBD (crones vs colitis). I’m an old newbie, so please excuse me if the following subject was previously discussed.

    Have you discussed with anyone the possibility of IBD being connected with high impact cardio (as in running), or experienced it yourself? Looking back, I seem to have shown these same symptoms during fad running phases in my life.

    Most recently as I increased speed and time on the treadmill my symptoms hit the hardest. My theory is that the shock from high impact may exacerbate or catalyze the affliction. Why not? Impact affects bones, brains, ligaments and other soft tissue?

    Thanks again for providing this Indispensable platform for us.


    • Hi Russell! Thanks for reading and raising a very important question. I have answered to the best of my ability above but am happy to communicate more with you if my answer does not suffice, just email me. So happy you’ve found a place here to share your story and thoughts!

      • Your much more informed than I am. Thanks for sharing what you’ve experienced and learned. Good luck with everything and I hope to talk to you more about running than IBD next time.

        Take Care

      • That’s what I get for taking Biology, Physiology and Anatomy all in the past year! Happy to share whatever I can. Come back and tell us how it’s going, ok? Either with running or IBD. It’s all the same to us πŸ™‚

  5. Pingback: Happy 1st Blogiversary! « run stronger every day

  6. No question. Just a thank you. Getting back into distance running after at least a decade of martial arts and interval training and boot camps. A diagnosis of Crohn’s this past winter ultimately led me to running Team Challenge in Vegas this December. Your blog popped as a link from Team Challenge on my Facebook page today. Must have been good karma or serendipity because the timing was perfect and you answered all the questions I’ve had about what’s what’s been going on with my IBD since I’ve started to increase my mileage over the past month. Wish this middle-aged fairly newly diagnosed guy good luck.

  7. Run’s not until December 2, but now well outside my 5k comfort zone in training. Still learning how to train with IBD. We have a 5k trail in Portland with a supermarket with a restroom across for the parking lot for the trail. Having to make bathroom stops during a run is quite the new experience. Glad to know I’m not alone in that one.

  8. Pingback: Friday FITspiration: Running without A Colon

  9. wow! thanks for sharing your experience. I thought I was the only athlete struggling through uc. I’m in remission now (on remicade & methotrexate) but you uncannily describe my work outs during a flare-up (except for the doubled diapers during my gym time). my GI doesn’t get my need for several hours of cardio & weights every day but luckily my trainer has been a great support. thank you again, I feel so much less alone.

  10. Thanks for sharing your story Abby! I was diagnosed with UC about four years ago and didn’t really start working out again until two years ago due to my fatigue. My husband is a trainer as well and he specializes in muscle activation therapy (MAT). For now, I do better with low impact cardio like the stationary bike and weights but it’s encouraging to hear that running may be back in my future one day! Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. I just want to say a huge THANK YOU!! I am 23, and have had quite the rocky past 5 years. They weren’t sure whether I had Chrons or UC. After several trips to the Mayo Clinic and second opinions, I was finally diagnosed with UC a couple of months ago. Being 23, no one my age can relate to anything I am going through, and I have recently had to miss many social events with co workers and friends because of the anxiety that comes with always needing to be near a restroom. Throughout your blog, I felt as though I was reading my own story. You have reassured me that I am not alone, and to stay strong and confident. I hope someday that I can get the surgery completed and be UC free! The urges and no control over my bowels have been a nightmare lately and now I feel so anxious and worried about even going into work. I think how unpredictable this disease is, is almost the worst part of it. There is no way to avoid the sudden urge to go.. NOW! Thank you again Abby, you are an inspiration and I will be following your blog from now on! I love to run and stay active!

    • Sara-I’m so happy to offer you a glimpse into my life with UC. I hope you know that you are NEVER alone in this battle and that there is a tremendous community out there for you to tap into (see: My Doctor Knows Me Best From Behind and Girls With Guts). If you have any questions, please feel free to email me:

  12. I just stumbled upon your site and am feeling so relieved. I was recently diagnosed with UC (proctitis, to be exact) and I realize I’ve had it for over 10 years, since high school. I’ve been a runner for at least 5 years, completing 3 marathons and several other distances. I completed my last marathon in the middle of my worst “flare”, the flare that encouraged me to go to a doctor, not realizing I had UC and not realizing feeling like crap isn’t normal. Looking back, my flares include exhaustion, headaches, mood swings, and the oh-so-fun UC tummy symptoms, depending on where I am in the flare. I am a fitness freak as well and workout MUCH more than the average individual. I’ve always eaten healthy (healthier than most individuals who eat healthy) so not only is it frustrating to have even more food restrictions but I’m annoyed that I have to limit fruits & veggies, as an avid fruit & veggie lover. I can tell when I am about to flare vs. “just not feeling well” because I don’t even WANT to eat veggies. Anyway…your blog is proving to be great support as I meddle through the process of maintaining proper nutrition during my training & running routine. I don’t feel as if I’m through this flare (some weeks are better than others) and one new restaurant or dish to “test the waters” may bring about symptoms that I’d tackled a week earlier. So thank you, thank you, thank you for proving I can have UC and still keep my therapist (running). πŸ™‚

    • Sarah-You are so not alone in being a UC athlete! We are a loud and proud group of runners with the exact same struggles you’re finding yourself with regarding food and running and all that. Keep fighting. And if you want to meet fellow UC/Crohn’s runners, check out the Team Challenge in your area. And never hesitate to email me with questions, etc! Good luck.

  13. Hi Abby,
    I am so releived to have stumbled across your blog. Although i don’t have a bowel disease, my boyfriend does. His surgery is Dec 17th!! 11 more days and we couldn’t be more excited! Your blog has reassured me that he will be okay and can get back into his athletic life style.

    If you don’t mind me asking, how long after your first surgery were you able to walk and move around comfortably? and how was the level of pain when you came out of recovery?

    Thank you,


    • Jessica-Please wish your boyfriend good luck for me! I was up and around about 5 hours after surgery (with the help of a nurse) and then was up and walking around several times a day. I had an epidural so I wasn’t impaired by drugs or much pain so I could move and recover comfortably. At home, I had pain pills for about two weeks and then after that, nothing. Hope that helps! If you want to be in touch, email me:

      • Thanks Abby! That helps a lot. It gives us an idea what to expect.
        I passed your email along to my boyfriend who had a few questions before his upcoming surgery.
        Good luck with training!

  14. Hi Abby! I can’t recall where I stumbled upon your blog but happy I did. I’ve been researching UC a lot lately and I feel I find more about Crohn’s than UC, so your blog is helpful…thank you!! I was diagnosed with UC during my first pregnancy and have been in a near full remission since 2004 (besides some joint pain issues). I have 2 boys now and my youngest was diagnosed with UC at the age of 5 and he hasn’t been as fortunate. He has had 3 flares in 1.5 years and has even been hospitalized. I kept our story quiet until a few months ago when my husband and I decided to join Team Challenge and run our first 1/2 in Miami on 2/2/14. Creating awareness has been so empowering and the fundraising has helped our kids get involved in the fight to find a cure too. And running and training…well, that’s my way at knocking out UC and not letting it take control of me or my son. I’m looking forward to reading your running blog for advice and motivation!
    p.s. Your candidness with your colostomy bag and J-pouch really made that potential situation for us a lot less frightening. Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Julie-
      Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story. I cannot imagine how difficult this journey has been for all of you. It’s really rewarding completing a race as part of TC. I’ll be cheering you on from NYC! Let me know if I can help in any way with any of this. All the best to you and your family!

  15. Hy Abby – What was your response with Humira? I’ve been reading the internet, and it’s scaring me, supposed to get started and a little hesitant this is the next step.

    • Hi Margaret-I didn’t respond at all to the Humira, but I didn’t respond to any of the biologics. I can’t speak to the side effects because I was so sick at that point, I wouldn’t know what was drugs and what were symptoms. I had also just come off of several huge doses of Remicade before hitting up the Humira.

  16. Pingback: Monday Motivator – Abby Bales {Kicked Ulcerative Colitis to the Curb}

  17. Abby,
    I just found your blog. I haven’t been diagnosed yet (colonoscopy in 6 days) but I am pretty sure I have some variety of UC. I am 57 and love running. Unfortunately, I haven’t signed up for any running events since last year (a marathon – completed, but not pretty) because of bathroom-related problems. I love trail running and signed up for a beautiful race in September but every time I run more than 20 miles a week, bad things happen. All of this started for me when I started marathon training about 18 months ago. My husband had just passed away and I thought the training would be a good thing to do. It actually was but it wasn’t without incident. I am so excited to read that your doctor doesn’t think you have to stop running. I have been trying to steel myself for someone telling me that I have to choose between a functioning gut and running. Before your pouch, could you fuel during a race without running to the porto-o-san? Oddly, my husband had a J-pouch – he had his entire colon removed when he was 20 because he had a genetic defect that causes colon cancer. He ran the Seattle Marathon in less than three hours with that pouch. I hope you have similar success with it.

  18. Hi Abby,

    My name is Vicky and I’m from England. I was diagnosed with UC in 2006 and had some serious UC flare-ups over the last 2 years on and off. I was not reacting to any medication anymore, so much so that I had to have my colon removed in May 2014 (only 6 weeks ago). I had the operation done through keyhole surgery so I am recovering quickly and loving feeling well again without my evil colon holding me back.

    I wanted to thank you for writing about UC and your surgery in your blog. During the run up to my surgery I was contacting everyone I could who could put my mind at ease about the procedure and aftermath and I found great solace in your words and your wonderfully positive mentality. It was a scary time and, although I have my wonderful family and boyfriend behind me all the way, it is always great to hear from someone else who has been there and has come through to the other side feeling better and ready to take on the world again.

    I am also due to have a J-Pouch created (I was too unwell to have both operations done at the same time in May). Like yourself, I am dubious about the procedure as I have become quite attached to my stoma β€œSquirt” as he has helped me to feel so much better. I am worried the J-Pouch will not work and I will have wasted so much time with it when I could simply go on living my life with Squirt and my bag quite happily. Would you say your life with the pouch is better than with the bag?


  19. Hi Abby. I’m a fellow ex UCer, now proud colostomy owner who has recently taken up running. I have experienced some practical issues (as well as some vanity issues) with running when the bag is starting to fill up. I have seen that there is some supporting equipment available for various sports activities, and I was wondering if you have had any experience with anything like this and have any recommendations.

    Also, in terms of nutririon, how do you eat prior to a race in order to keep up energy while still ensuring that your bag is not exploding before you reach the goal line?

    Thanks a lot for your inspiring blog!

    All the ebst!


    • Gustav-

      I trained for a marathon with my bag in the summertime. It was..interesting. First, I had a sport belt that my bag sat in but didn’t find it very practical. I ended up using fitted running shorts and tucking my bag into that to keep it from swinging around. My bag did slide off completely toward the end of some hot, sweaty runs (20 miles) so there was that. NO idea how to fix the sweat problem.

      I didn’t find that my bag filled up a lot while I was running (digestion kind of comes to a halt during exercise) and I ate a peanut butter & jelly sandwich beforehand so it took a little while to go through my system. I ate Clif Shot Bloks during runs and always had an electrolyte-infused drink (never just water).

      Hope this helps!

  20. I am a young running enthusiast who has very recently been diagnosed with UC. Will I ever be able to run again without needingr the toilet?

    • Billy, it all depends on how your body responds to the choices you choose for treatment. Many people find that drug regimens keep them from flaring and run bathroom-free for years. Others never really rid themselves of the toilet during runs, and still more like me end up having surgery because no other treatment works. It’s so hard, I know. Are you flaring now?

  21. Yes, in 3 weeks I am seeing my doctor and hope to talk about the possibility of surgery. Thanks

    • One thing I want to mention about my pouch: I still sometimes bleed when I run. I’m pretty sure it happens when my pouch has stuff in it while I’m running, but there’s nothing to indicate there’s colitis there or anything and my doc says it looks great from the inside, too.

  22. Billy, I can only say that post surgery my quality of life is better than I could ever have dreamed of while struggeling with UC. And I have never been in better shape. An ostomy should not inhibit you from running, biking, hiking, swimming etc. whatsoever. The choice to go for surgery is very hard and although i propably should have done it years before, the fact that it was my own choice and not that of my doctor has made a huge difference (I think). Best desicion of my life…
    Good luck!

    • I wholeheartedly agree with Gustav, Billy! Even with my ostomy, I was healthier than I’d been in years! With my pouch, it’s like I’m normal again. For me, the surgery was a God-send.

  23. Hi Abbey,
    I’m awaiting my pouch reversal. It’s been a long two years since the initial UC surgery, my swimming and cycling are fantastic, but i’m too scared to go running (even though it’s briefly stopped raining in London), due to potential hydration difficulties. I guess the answer is to keep electrolyte drinks to hand both before, during and after, plus not expect to run a marathon on my first attempt. Your page has been an inspiration, thank you.

    Any advice would be great. Thanks again.

    • Ryan-
      I never found hydration to be an issue, probably because I’m a sweaty runner to begin with. I always have hydration with me (never count on water fountains) in the form of Nuun tablets. No sugar, all the good stuff. If you are swimming and cycling, you’re getting sweaty, so there’s no need to fear the pavement. Start small and build smart.
      Good luck!

  24. Hello Abby,

    I picked up a copy of the September 2016 Competitor magazine at my gym, and read your article about running and UC. I have a Kock Pouch due to UC. I was 33 when I had my surgery, and I am now 71. I have been a runner all my life, and my best running was after my surgery. Every mile has been a joy, whether it was a daily training run or a more laborious marathon. Although I no long run 7-minute miles, I consider every step a special opportunity. UC can be a periodic inconvenience, it is no excuse.

    I noticed many of the questions and comments are from younger runners, or older runners facing midlife challenges from UC. I have never spoken or written publicly about my UC, but I want all runners, regardless of age, to know that in most situations UC is not a deterrent to a healthy and active lifestyle. Have courage, work with your physician, and embrace what life has to offer. Tighten those laces and have fun!

    Be Well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s