Running After Liver Surgery (Read 750 times)

    After a year of gut aches and running slower and a physicial assistant who thought I needed ant-acids and waking up early in the morning November 22 with chills and the gut ache that neither would quit, I went to the emergency room at Salem Hospital. Dr. Vanderhaven the trama doctor on at the time decided I had a growth in my abdomen that needed to be removed. After surgery and finding out that the growth was GIST of the small colon. That's Gastral Intestinal Stoma Tumor. I also found out that this had spread to my liver. That was operated on February 7th. More than a month after the second sugery I have started running. My endurance was gone and what speed I had was gone. I ran a 10 minute mile on my 64th birthday in July last year. I thought that was slow but now I struggle to run 12 minute miles and after 3 miles I can barely keep running. So has anybody else had trouble bouncing back after liver surgery? I read the book "Born to Run" and I got really inspired to go but frustrated that I can't go very far. After reading (you think I could spell better) running is my favorite activity and still is. A side note after the first surgery on my small colon I started running about a month after and was up to 4 miles when I had the second surgery in February. In July there is the Mini-Marathon 2.62 miles in Monmouth-Independence and I plan to run my birthday mile bare foot on the Western Oregon University track. I hope to run better than 10 minutes.

      Sparky, congratulations on making your comeback after some serious surgeries.  I think running at all is a great accomplishment for you, and you'll be better off forgetting about speed.  Twelve+ minute miles are just fine.  Just run.  Odds are, the speed will come back when your body is ready.

      Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject. - S.J.


        Congratulations - running at all a few months after liver surgery is an inspiring accomplishment!


        You can get back to your old speed, but you need to modify your expectations as to how fast you can get there. The liver, as the body's primary storage vessel for glycogen, is arguably as important to the distance runner as the heart and lungs. When your muscles run out of their own glycogen stores at two to three miles they look to your liver to replace it.. Just a few months after having a piece of your liver removed your damaged liver hasn't healed and regenerated to the extent where it can replace the glycogen fast enough. You should be having a hard time bouncing back.. In fact, you really shouldn't expect to be able to run much more than 3-5 miles at any pace right now. The good news is that your liver should repair itself and function just as well as it used to - it just takes time. Time as in months (double digits), not weeks.


        I run the Boston Marathon with the American Liver Foundation and have run with folk who've had liver issues ranging from slight damage to full liver transplants. The first goal for all of these amazing people has been to finish - which they all do. One guy I particularly admire had a full liver transplant in the fall of 2009 and ran Boston in 2011. Believe it or not, he had it easier than you - he had a new healthy liver - yours needs some time to heal.


        Completing a half marathon less than 6 months after major liver surgery would be an amazing accomplishment. Doing so at your pre-surgery pace is really an unreasonable expectation. At this point, just focus on increasing your distance at a slow and steady pace over the next few months. Listen to your body. When it's ready (and at some point it will be) it will tell you that you can pick up the pace. You will get there, you just need to be patient.


        Good luck and keep it up - your efforts are an inspiration to us all.

          Thank you LedLincoln and dickchase for the encouragement to continue. I recently had a scan that showed no cancer. Another side note GIST is not an agressive cancer and can in my case be treated with just surgery and no chemo or radiation. I fogot to mention the docor who did the liver surgery was Dr. Billingsly at Oregon Health and Science University who was the best. I can't say enough about the Dr. Vanderhaven of Salem Hospital and Dr. Billingsly who saved my life. It's good to be alive.

          Feeling the growl again

            I know it's frustrating not to be up to your former speed yet, but patience and consistency is the key here.  Keep running in a way that you find enjoyable and gets you out the door regularly.  When you feel like pushing it occasionally, speed up.  When you don't feel like it, that's your body wanting to recover so just go easy and enjoy that you can be out there.


            I'm glad they caught your tumor early enough to avoid systemic treatment.  Best of luck with your recovery and return to running.

            "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


            I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills




              A similar thing happened to me recently in that I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and had to go under the knife 2 months ago.    I'm running again but a lot less than before and slower too.....


              So, I understand your frustration.......just keep going out there every day and keep building your mileage and next thing you know you'll be back where you were....


              BE patient and know that although you went thru something that was tougher than I did, you'll still not alone........



              Champions are made when no one is watching