2008 US Olympian (and celiac!) reflects on her career.
The December Issue of Running Times Magazine profiles the remarkable career of Amy Yoder Begley. The 6-time National Champion and 2008 US Olympian has endured many challenges and triumphs throughout her exceptional career, among them, her struggle to gain a celiac disease diagnosis.
After being diagnosed with lactose intolerance back in 1999, Begley still suffered from persistent symptoms including gastrointestinal symptoms, low bone mineral density, amenorrhea and persistent dehydration.
Her problems were so severe that despite eliminating dairy from her diet, she often couldn’t run without having to take multiple bathroom breaks.
“‘It was frustrating because I was 28 and had all of these health problems,’ Begley recalls. ‘We bounced around in search of the best place to train, but the bigger issue was that I was being diagnosed with new problems every year. And it all made it very hard to train with any consistency.’”
Finally, in 2006 Begley’s physiologist and sports nutritionist discovered that she had been misdiagnosed. She didn’t have lactose intolerance after all- she had Celiac Disease!
Despite the relief of a proper diagnosis, Begley found the prospect of managing a gluten-free diet overwhelming at first.
“If there was any good news it was only that she was allowed to have ice cream for the first time in seven years. The down side was that she had to completely retool her diet once again. Early on, she and Andrew learned the hard way how easy it is to cross-contaminate food and the dire result it can have. ‘He used the same fork he had used for something with gluten in it while cooking something else and I wound up getting really sick,’ she recalls.”
But Amy’s perseverance is what helps her maintain her status among the world’s top runners. While recovering from Achilles surgery this 2010 season, she sets her sights on next year’s world championships and the 2012 Olympic team.
“’It’s been an amazing journey and I have loved every bit of it, but, yes, I could have stopped running at any number of times,’ she says. ‘But I really would have missed out on a lot if I had.’”
To read the complete profile of Amy Yoder Begley in Running Times Magazine, click here: