Stephanie Crook Was Diagnosed With MS After Finding Fitness


Today’s guest is someone that went from not running at all to finishing her first marathon in a short timeframe.

Later this year she is going to be running multiple marathons on consecutive days as a member of the MS Run the US relay team.

We will have a lot of things to cover as I got a few easy miles with Stephanie Crook today!

Stephanie Crook

Desperate For Change

Stephanie Crook used to be obese and fought to lose weight.

In an effort to get healthier, she began going to her local gym.

A friend she met at the gym mentioned she was running in the local turkey trot 5k.

Stephanie was willing to try anything to lose weight and agreed to sign up.

She followed the Couch to 5k (C25k) running program to prepare.

Stephanie wanted to give up multiple times during that first 5k race.

She wanted a change so much that she was willing to put up with the discomfort that she experienced while running.

Over the course of her first year running, Stephanie lost 85 pounds and was officially hooked on running.

Embracing Distance

Stephanie wasted no time working her way up to the marathon distance.

One year after she first started running, she completed the Chicago marathon.

She ran Chicago as a part of a fundraising group.

Stephanie found that running for a charity gave her an extra level of motivation because her miles had extra meaning behind them.

Her first marathon went as well as she had hoped and ended with her husband at the finish to celebrate her accomplishment.

The celebration was short-lived because when Stephanie got home that night her husband had moved out unexpectedly.

Stephanie felt that the day was taken away from her as a dark cloud was now cast over her accomplishment.

As a way to regain control, she signed up for another marathon only one month later.

Stephanie Crook

Pushing Through Injury

Stephanie felt unusually great the entire time while running her first marathon.

The second marathon one month later, was a much more typical experience.

According to Stephanie, she got the “full marathon experience” when the race began to feel hard at the halfway point.

Even though the second marathon hurt more, she wasn’t deterred and signed up for a spring marathon.

It was while training for her third marathon that Stephanie began to feel an injury coming on.

Stephanie tried to push through the injury and continue training.

She was able to make it to the marathon but ultimately injured herself more seriously during the race.

Post-marathon she had to take some time off of running and spent time rehabbing with a physical therapist.

Unexpected Diagnosis

Once Stephanie was able to run again, she continued to push her limits with more marathons, an ultra, and a triathlon.

In between all her races, Stephanie would routinely go on easy runs.

On one of her easy runs, her legs went numb.

Stephanie’s first thought was that she may be faced with another injury.

Her symptoms began to progressively get worse even when she wasn’t running.

Various parts of her body ranging from her face to hands to her torso would all go numb.

Stephanie went to various Doctors and had multiple tests performed in an effort to find an answer.

She got her answer from a neurologist and that answer was Multiple Sclerosis (MS).


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Learning To Live With MS

The symptoms associated with MS and how it progresses are different for everyone.

Over the years, the understanding of the disease has improved leading to better treatments and more options available.

Stephanie wasn’t expecting the diagnosis and went through depression in the early stages.

As she became more accepting of her diagnosis, she also learned that her life wasn’t over.

She could still do the things she loved to do.

Learning to live with the disease has brought her more peace than trying to fight it.

The Same But Different

The first specialist Stephanie asked about running told her she would never be able to do it again.

Stephanie wasn’t willing to accept that answer and soon learned that was an old way of thinking.

Her second specialist said that running would indeed be possible, but it may look a little different.

Running wouldn’t make her disease worse, but she had to learn how to control her body to deal with MS.

Fatigue is a huge symptom that many with MS have to learn how to live with.

Stephanie also had to figure out how to run with numb legs and feet.

It was similar to starting to run all over again because she had to re-learn her body.

MS is a progressive disease and with that in mind, Stephanie is determined to keep moving until that is no longer an option.

Stephanie Crook

MS Run The US

When Stephanie was able to resume running again, she began doing research on organizations that supported MS research.

It didn’t take long for her to stumble upon MS Run the US.

MS Run the US  is an organization that organizes a relay across the US while raising funds and awareness to support MS.

Initially, Stephanie doubted that she was capable of doing the event.

After connecting with a few runners from the relay she began to have more confidence in her abilities.

Stephanie took the leap and applied to the 2022 relay team.

She was accepted and had feelings of both gratitude and excitement.

Their belief in her helped her to believe in herself.

Putting In The Work

Stephanie is currently in the base building phase with the more structured training beginning in the coming months.

Her segment is in July, but she is working on strengthening her body and mind in preparation for all the big miles ahead.

She is both excited and nervous about the event and what it will hold.

Fundraising is giving Stephanie the opportunity to help real people with real needs.

It is a constant reminder that what she is training for is about so much more than just her.

She knows the race will hurt and she is prepared to accept that.

With every run, she reminds herself that it is a gift and the distance should always be respected.

A New Appreciation For Life

Since being diagnosed with MS, Stephanie has learned a lot.

MS has taught her to slow down and take life in rather than rush by.

She has found her self-worth and realized just how strong she really is.

Stephanie won’t be running her segment till later in the race, but the first runner will begin in April in California.

The relay will finish in August in New York after covering 3,260 miles.

Segments will be available to watch on MS Run the US YouTube channel.


Mentioned In This Episode:

Stay connected with Stephanie Crook by following her on Facebook and/or reaching out directly through her email at fightingMS.2022@gmail.com.


Stephanie Crook found fitness as an adult and a few short years later was diagnosed with MS. She is motivated to keep pushing her limits until she is no longer able. Click To Tweet


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2 replies
  1. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Thank you again for the great conversation! I agree with your take away- that injury shouldn’t be expected from running. I recently read Tom Brady’s TB12 method about exactly that. While I’m no Brady fan, the book did offer a great perspective about changing the commonly accepted cycle of performing to and through injury, recovering, then repeating the cycle. Yale Medicine reports that more than 50% of regular runners sustain a running related injury every year. They even go so far as to say “…there is one disadvantage to running as a workout. People who do a lot of it tend to get hurt.” Every time I’m injured I reflect back on what I could have done to prevent it. I guess hind sight is 20/20 and ultimately useless unless we learn from it to improve the future. What can I say? I am a work in process. Hopefully someday I’ll get it! LOL
    Thank you for the talk! 🙂

    Reply

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