Anyone training with long term illness/chronic disease?

Hello All,

I am interested to hear how other people have approached training whilst having a long term health problem. Has anything helped you? Have you had any good tips or experiences to share?

Everyone is different, but you never know, your experience might help someone else in a similar situation… :+1:

For example, I have a liver problem and in the last few years it would flare up after a big effort, think ramp test or race. After doing a lot of research (definitely not a doctor, but did ask my doctor who was pretty unhelpful - happy to share what I learnt privately) I have focused on things like diet, sleep, t-total, probiotics, and avoiding high intensity whilst in an ‘untrained’ state. Seems to be helping so far and hopefully this allows me to get back to racing and avoid long term antibiotics.

How have you got on?

Fortunately my health issue in 2018/19 wasn’t long term and after recovering quickly I was able to attack my chemo harder than it could attack me. I listen to this coach a lot on YouTube and he talks about personally having to manage ulcerative colitis.


I have “Dairy Persistent Headaches” and migraines likely caused and/or confounded by my Cervical Radiculopathy. I manage these issues, among others, through meditation, medication and PT. Furthermore, during exercising/cycling I find relief and allows me something other that I can focus on. Not to mention, it’s a pain I’m in control of and a conscious decision to push through. Cycling has been a life line for me.

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I’ve got Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - Ulcerative Colitis, to be exact. It’s an auto immune disease which triggers my insides to attack themselves and creates all sort of inflammatory problems for me. It’s sort of the sister disease to Crohns disease.

Although I am fortunately in remission with the aid of some heavy-duty ($$$$) biologic medicines, I still experience flare ups from time to time - mostly triggered by stress or the end of my medicine infusion cycle. It’s been quite the journey to learn how to train and manage a chronic illness. My biggest (very generalized) takeaways have been:

  • Listen to my body - if it says rest, I rest
  • Sleep is everything
  • Eating nutrient packed foods helps me feel more normal (although I have to be very careful with fresh veggies and fibrous foods)
  • Having a support system - family, friends, etc makes a huge difference. Lean on others when you’re down

My IBD diagnosis opened new doors for me and has given me new opportunities I didn’t expect. Together with my coach/friend (who is one of the few pros who is open about having IBD), we’ve created and are building Ride4IBD - an initiative to support other athletes with IBD, to Ride, Inspire, and Challenge what’s possible with a chronic illness.



Another sufferer of UC here. I’m in remission but I’ve had a tough few years. A big turning point for me was cutting gluten or most of it out and it helped massively. I did an Ironman whilst flared up. It was horrific. I have no idea how I pushed through but I’m in a much better place. I try to sleep plenty and carry toilet paper everywhere. Best of luck to you. I’m sure it’s tough at times and can be difficult to stay motivated


I have a chronic kidney disease (don’t know an English word for the exact condition, sorry).

The nature of the problem means I can help it a lot by avoiding certain foods (I rarely eat meat, I avoid alcohol). That helps, but I still have periods with symptoms, either because of other things influencing my disease or because I don’t have the spine to avoid those things totally…

But apart from that, I have found that the most important thing is to just accept, that I will never be able to be as good as many of the people that I ride with. On a good day, I am able to follow the group, but then we plan a trip to go riding some mountains and they all train consistently for several months. I just have to accept, that I will have some weeks, where I am not able to ride my bike. Nothing to do about that. I will be one of the last riders to reach the top of the mountain.

But I will reach it. Because I have decided that being the fastest is not important. It’s not possible for me, so I will not aim for that. But I am doing my best…

And then we all have a beer at the top of the mountain and I know that tomorrow I will be even more crap, but hey, that’s life…