National MS Awareness Month: Q&A with Marisol Beigert

This March is National MS Awareness Month, and the Dr. Cool team is focusing on gaining valuable insight from our friends and trusted ambassadors who manage to stay active despite having the disease! For this article, we consulted with runner Marisol Beigert for some insight to living and competing with MS.

Marisol was diagnosed with MS back in 2006, and started running as a way to help her condition. Through running, yoga, strength training, meditation, and other activities, she’s managed to overcome the effects of MS and stay committed to what she enjoys doing. Marisol is a part of three running groups and charity organizations, and is deeply involved in her community. Last year, at the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, she and her group raised $300,000!

We set up a brief Q&A with Marisol to discover how she copes with MS, and what she plans on accomplishing this year!

Q: How does MS affect you as an athlete?

Marisol: I have to treat every day as a new day with having MS and being an athlete.  For the most part, I am OK and can do what most people can do, but I do have my limitations.  When I am in a flare or recovering from one, I have to listen to my body and see what doesn’t feel quite right and adjust my workout.  If my legs are numb and I can’t go and do my planned interval training, I may switch that day to an easy run, strength training, or yoga.

I also have to plan—I have to make two, actually—plan A and plan B.  I never know how my body will react to a workout intensity or sudden change in body temperature. I also have to make sure I take whatever medicine I need for the particular MS issue I’m having.  I don’t like to always be on medicine, but sometimes I just have no choice. I have a great neurologist and he provides me with an arsenal of necessary medicine so that I can function every day.

It has taken me a few years to figure all of this out, and even when I think I know, the MS can throw me off my feet.  What I have found is that as long as I’m consistent and do one of my workouts every day and rest I can try and beat the MS and how it affects me that day.  I can’t give up trying, and that is what makes me an athlete.

Q: In what ways do you address the effects of MS when preparing for a race?

Marisol: In my few years of racing, I have been very lucky to be major-MS-issue-free the day of an event.  I have had lingering issues that most of the time is considered my “normal,” but I have learned over the years what medicine, if needed, I should take.  Sometimes I just need to suck it up and know this is my “normal” right now, and there is not much I can do to make those physical issues go away.

A lot of planning comes into play, just like other athletes.  For me and my MS, I scrutinize the temperature in the warmer months. I get overheated very easily.  Like most runners, a 45 to 60-degree cloudy day is my best friend.  But anything over 60 and my plan changes to plan B.  All race planning involves knowing where all the water stops are on the course.  I make sure both my Dr. Cool Multi Chill and Chill Bands are packed.  I use the course water stops to re-wet both of these wearables and pour water over my head to help keep my core as cool as possible.  If the temperature isn’t too hot, I can race wearing my Dr. Cool Cap or Cooling tank or shirt.

Being prepared and wearing these items is everything I can do to prevent me from overheating during a race. Sometimes I have not been able to avoid overheating, and that’s not easy to handle mentally when you’re out there running in mile eight of a half marathon, but I think the mental determination of getting me through that race is what also helps me handle my MS on a daily basis. I just can’t give up on myself—ever.

Q: What are your goals for 2016?

Marisol: My goal for 2016 is to get faster, just like any runner’s goals (laughs). But one specific goal for this year is to run a faster Half Marathon at the Hudson River Walkway race on June 12th.
I have a bucket list event, the NYC Half Marathon.  I will be running this on March 20th as part of the Race to Stop MS team.  I hope that by me running, I can show how MS affects everyone differently and what one person is doing to overcome it. I have a few fall races I would like to do that include the Hartford CT Half, the Staten Island Half, and the Runners World Half.
When it comes down to it, my main goal for 2016 will be to stay in the best shape I can to help lessen the affects MS has on me!

You can follow Marisol on her Instagram account @msrunner26 and through the Dr. Cool blog as she completes her events!