October 20 2016
Ali opens up about running with Crohn's Disease and how it can suck, but it's also very empowering.
Republished with permission from Empress Avenue—Where Women Inspire
Running was never difficult for me. As a teenager, I was on the track and field team. I played soccer and ran before games at home to warm up, even before the team “warm up.” In college, I formed a running club. Us runners would brag about the races we had signed up for each year, comparing our medals. We would wake up at 6 a.m. and run before class on campus. Starting our day with a clear head and breathing in the fresh air was exhilarating.
An accident playing a game of indoor soccer changed everything for me. I’ll never forget the sound of my knee cap cracking as I fell to the pavement. I could barely walk, let alone run.
Stress from my studies and full-time work schedule started to build up. Unable to run, I didn’t have an outlet to get away from it all. For me, running was a chance to turn everything off and be alone with my own thoughts. My confidence dropped as I gained weight. I lost my desire to make plans for the future. My injury was healing, but the damage was done. I’d lost my love for running and desire to play sports, scared of another injury. I tried to run again, but it was difficult. Too difficult for someone who it used to be second nature. I was short of breath, my knees ached so I gave it up.
Needing a change, I moved to London, England, with my (now) husband to pursue a Master’s Degree. There I would get back into running. But the work piled up, I had no energy, or so I told myself. Instead I walked everywhere, exploring every corner of my new city. I never ran.
My husband Ryan, who was never a runner, started running along the canals in London. I watched as he got into the best shape of his life. I watched, but I didn’t join him. After all, I was no longer a runner—a title I used to give myself with pride.
Ryan stopped running after a major eye injury in London. I had just finished school and Ryan was unable to work. Again, we needed a change. We gave away all of our belongings to our new friends in Europe, only keeping what we could carry in our backpacks. (Okay, Ryan had to carry two backpacks. I could only get rid of so much!) We sent home souvenirs, booked our flights to Greece and our flights back home to Canada in time for Christmas. We ran away to Greece for three months, where we got engaged overlooking the sunset in Santorini and spent our days making future plans. I wanted to get into shape for our wedding and vowed to start running again.
We had now moved back to Canada and were consumed with putting our lives back together and planning our upcoming wedding. I started a new business as a Public Relations Consultant and launched my blog Empress Avenue – Where Women Inspire. I told myself I didn’t have time to run.
Three years later—married, successful and feeling grounded—I suddenly had a strong desire to run again. I realized that when I lost the ability to run, I started running in another way—from country to country, from job to job.
Now, here I am at our cabin in Pemberton, British Columbia, looking outside at the fresh air. It’s winter and it’s cold. The mountains and the roads are covered with snow. Breathing in the fresh air is exhilarating. I’m dressed in warm layers, wool socks overflowing in my new shoes, but finally ready to run again.
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