Team Challenge Mentor Crystal Shares Her Tips On Endurance Training With IBD

Twenty-two years ago, at the age of seven, I battled for my life before a doctor 120 miles from my hometown took a shot in the dark and gave me a colonoscopy. It was that doctor that finally diagnosed me with Crohn’s disease and put me on a treatment path.

Flashback to two years ago, I was in the middle of a flare and had visited the CCFA website looking for some resources in Denver. I happened to see a banner on the site for Team Challenge and contacted the team manager. As they say, the rest is history. I'm in my fourth season now and third as a mentor. 

I decided to pound the pavement with Team Challenge to continue supporting CCFA, so one day I, and the millions of other patients, will find permanent relief. I found an amazing group of people that are on the same journey, striving for a cure for Crohn’s and colitis.

When I started this journey, fundraising was hard for me, but friends and families provided so much support that fundraising was no longer asking for money. It became a way of advocating for a better future. I also grew up in a small town in an area where there weren't resources to help folks with IBD. I had to drive two hours to a doctor in Atlanta for treatment. Team Challenge gave me a support group. Team Challenge is a team of people that have become life-long friends and Crohnie companions that understand my struggles.

How I Train For Team Challenge

My IBD is like a roller coaster during training. Some days I feel fine and other days I double over from pain and can't finish two miles. After finding a consistent nutrition and eating plan, the pain comes less frequently. Understanding my own rhythms helps a lot. For instance, I know that my gut takes a while in the morning to "perk up" so morning runs are especially difficult (which makes races difficult!).

My Top Tips For Training With Team Challenge As An IBD Patient 

1. Always, always, always carry wet wipes. Make sure you know the mileage to the next bathroom, whether it's a McDonalds or a port-a-potty.

2. Be consistent with your nutrition, especially during a flare. Our bodies can lose a lot of their nourishment during a flare so eating healthy and staying hydrated is a must.

3. Try new nutrition products BEFORE running. Grab a chewbar and try one when you're at home, near your bathroom, in case there are any major issues.

I completed my first half marathon with Team Challenge in Kona, Hawaii a year and a half ago and I've never looked back. If I can run or walk 13 miles, you can too. All it takes is for you to commit to yourself. Take a leap of faith and try something that you never would have imagined doing. Every resource is in place so that you don't only succeed, but you enjoy it!


To be a part of this life-changing program, learn more about Team Challenge events in your area at: