Rather than write my own blog post about joggling and arthritis, I thought it would be much better to let my friend Dana Guglielmo be a guest blogger for this topic, since she has arthritis and is an amazing joggler who holds a world record certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Without further delay, here is her inspirational story.
When I Couldn’t Outrun Arthritis, I Learned to Joggle
By Dana Guglielmo
It was the camaraderie and entertainment that first lured me into the sport of joggling (juggling while running), and when I say entertainment, it’s a two-way street. I try to make the people around me laugh with the joggling; in return, the runners and spectators make me laugh with their hilarious comments. Joggling is basically an open invitation for people to talk to you (and make inappropriate ball jokes).
“What, did I seriously just get passed by a girl juggler? You just completely emasculated me!”
My new hobby has inspired countless laughs, but perhaps the most important gift it brought me was a new approach to battling a chronic condition: Inflammatory arthritis.
“You know, Dana, when you run so many miles it makes me wonder what you’re running from,” my friend joked.
I was heading out the door for my second run of the day; that week I had run close to 50 miles. I laughed about it, but there was some truth to her statement – I was definitely running from something.
I began joggling last year, and as I faced the challenge of running with three hacky sacks spinning in a cascade pattern, I also faced a new challenge in managing my arthritis.
Not only did my medications stop working for me, but I began having serious side effects from them. But lowering my medications risked damaging my joints; increasing them risked damaging vital organs.
I couldn’t win.
After trying to outrun my arthritis for seven years, I realized my arthritis had outrun me.
Gone were the days that I could wake up, pop 8 pills, inject more medication into my stomach and expect to feel amazing on a 15 mile long run. The same medications that enabled me to outrun the disease for seven years had stopped me dead in my tracks.
Change was in order. So I stopped trying to outrun my arthritis, and instead, I began learning how to manage it along with being an athlete.
I met with a new rheumatologist and dietitian that both fully support my dream of running marathons. Under their guidance, I lowered my medications and altered my diet. As it turns out, the best diet for arthritis patients is the same diet that nearly everyone should follow to be healthy.
For the first time in my life, I took it easy. I chilled out. I let go of my need to perfect every little thing. I exercised based on how I felt, and not what my training schedule said.
With my new lifestyle and positive mindset, the juggling ball of arthritis became significantly lighter. I stopped running with fear and denial, and began moving forward with confidence.
In time, I stopped running from my arthritis. Joggling helped me to manage my health in a way that running never could do on its own. Sure, there will be days that I “drop a ball” and have pain, but you’re allowed to drop a ball – even in an official Guinness World Record attempt!
Whether it’s juggling my hacky sacks or juggling arthritis, I hope to be juggling everywhere I go – running included.
Funding Research To Cure Arthritis
Dana Guglielmo’s blog – Beating PRs & Beating Arthritis
Follow Dana Guglielmo on Twitter