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The Time I (Almost) Quit Running for Good

There hasn’t been much talk about running here lately because, quite frankly, there hasn’t been much running. After (barely) training for that half marathon and then running it faster than I had any business going, it will surprise no one to learn that I needed a full 3 weeks to recover. Like I always say: stupid training leads to stupid results.

Okay, so I’ve never said that before in my life, but I think I’m going to adopt it as my new training mantra this year.

I don’t regret what I did, although in hindsight I probably should have put a little more emphasis on building up strength to compliment my “run less miles in a week than you will cover on race day” training plan. Running the half was incredibly humbling, but it was also a fun accomplishment that served as a much-needed confidence booster.

So while I wasn’t surprised that I needed so long to recover from that effort, what did surprise me was how easily I adjusted to not running. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t seriously trained for anything in over a year, or maybe it’s that I haven’t even really felt like a runner since I had to drastically cut back my mileage in late pregnancy. Or maybe I’m just used to taking long gaps of time off running by this point. But whatever the reason, those 3 weeks of not running passed by in a blur. I missed running in the way that you miss a good piece of chocolate – not something you need to have daily (or really, ever I suppose), just something that in the back of your mind you know could make you happy (oh you don’t also feel this way about chocolate….?). And I was only mildly annoyed that I couldn’t do it.

Like every year, I watched the Boston Marathon with excitement. And there was a small part of me that wished I was running, just to be a part of the experience. But for the most part I didn’t really give too much thought to the fact that I couldn’t run, or that I wasn’t really a part of that running community I (used to) love so much. I avoided reading running-related blogs and could only muster a tiny bit of excitement when it came to other people’s races.

It got to the point where I seriously started thinking it was time to move on. Maybe that part of my life was over. I’ve had a good run (har har), but I have different priorities now. Life is busier than ever, I’m slower and more out of shape than ever, and it’s a whole lot more complicated to fit in a run and actually train for a race. Maybe it was time to find a new interest. Or at the very least, give up my racing goals and just become a hobby jogger, running the occasional 2-4 miles to stay in some semblance of shape. We all know I’m not qualifying for the Olympics or going pro anytime soon (read: ever), so what’s the point? In fact, I even contemplated changing the blog name to HealthontheHobbyJog…but that didn’t have quite the same ring.

Amelia flowerKeeping busy

I think you all know where this is going…

Last Sunday, something happened. After a full 3 weeks of short walks, minimal strength training, and one miserable half hour on the elliptical, I finally decided to go on a test run. My hip/butt didn’t seem to hurt when I walked and the elliptical was a success, so I figured it was worth a shot. I tentatively laced up my shoes, grabbed my phone (since my Garmin was lying dead at the bottom of a pile of running gear), and headed out for a couple miles. Since I sort of expected the pain to flare up at any second, I was pleasantly surprised when I got through that first mile without feeling a thing. I kept running and was suddenly hit by the realization that I didn’t just have an absence of pain – I actually felt great. It was like I was never injured. The further I went the more the adrenaline kicked in until I literally felt like I was floating on air. It was one of those amazing runner’s high inducing runs where everything comes together and feels almost effortless.

For the entire 3.5 miles, the only thought in my head was: “I forgot how much I missed this!!”

And that’s when I knew. I may not be anywhere close to the level of runner I was before pregnancy. I may only be running a few days a week, a few miles at a time. And running as I know it may never be the same. But it really doesn’t matter. The sport has wormed its way so deep into my heart and my mind that I can’t imagine a life without it.

Running – I don’t know why I ever doubted. I just can’t quit you.

And do you want to know the craziest thing of all? I’m running faster now than I did before I took my three week hiatus. Granted, it’s still much slower than before, but I find that I’m actually able to maintain somewhere around an 8:00 pace without feeling like I want to die. I even had a run the other day where I pushed the pace just for fun, managing negative splits and paces in the last 2 miles that I usually only dream about. It was like running that half marathon was the reminder my body needed that it has other gears it can switch into. I have a long way to go before it remembers how to access all of them, but it’s a start.

So the moral of this rambling post? I still feel a little weird saying I’m a runner when I’m only running 3 – 5 miles at a time, a few times a week. But the itch is back. I’m trying really hard to avoid riding this excitement into another injury, so for now I’m coming back slowly. I ran 4 times from Sunday – Sunday and the goal is to get in a total of 4 runs again this week, with strength training on the off days. Maybe someday soon I’ll be back to consistently running 5-6 days per week, feeling like a serious runner again.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

20 Responses to The Time I (Almost) Quit Running for Good

  1. so, here’s the thing. my little guy just turned 14 months and i’m still working to balancing life, work, laundry, and running. i’m pretty sure in the last year i’ve “given up” on feeling like my old running self multiple times. but as many times as i’ve quit running, running never quits me. and thank goodness! i love that it’s always there to meet us where we are at and give us back a piece of our former selves. even though we’ll never be the same…running connects who i was, with who i am, with who i am becoming.
    dawn @ running the dawn´s last post ..learnings

    • “running connects who i was, with who i am, with who i am becoming.”

      I love that perspective! And it’s so true. Running may look different at every phase of life, but it has always been (and hopefully will always be!) there.

  2. I think that is one of the great things about running, the goals and challenges can be so individual. It’s always a good sign when no matter how long you have been away that it still feels right!
    EB @ Running on E´s last post ..Training Recap: 5/5-5/11

  3. I laughed when I read this – I could have written it myself when my son was about the same age. But then I discovered how well he napped in the jogging stroller and I started getting in some really long runs (I mean who would wake a sleeping baby? Just keep running!!!) Now he is 2.5 and I rarely go a weekend without pushing him for 1-2 hours. My long runs are sooo slow because he is sooo big – major resistance training. But I’m faster and stronger than I ever was before I had a baby!! And I love that running is our thing… he’ll bring me my running shoes and say “Mommy, run?? Please??” Have fun!! :)

    • That’s incredible! I love that he asks to go now :) I’m excited to run with her more when she’s a little older…both because it’ll be fun to share running with her AND for the training benefits!!

  4. I could have written this myself (minus that half marathon part, I’m not up to that yet :p). I beat myself up for a while over my measly 2.5 mile slowwwww stroller runs and thought it wasn’t important. But it IS important in my life. I’m not sure when I will ever get the chance to run long or fast again. My husband is away for a while so if I’m running, it’s with a stroller or on a treadmill in my very hot garage.

    In some ways I am happier now because I have zero expectations, other than to get out and exercise everyday.

    I hope you find your happy place in hobby-jogging too! It’s not so bad here. :)
    Christen´s last post ..Baby Boy is here!

    • Ha no it’s not all bad…the zero expectations part is pretty nice. As is the fact that I feel good about myself if I manage to get in a few 4 miles runs per week (whereas before that was never enough). However – there’s this part of me that I think will always crave the competition of racing. So I’m just trying to be patient and enjoy the “now” of whatever running looks like. Hopefully someday we’ll both figure it out and be back to training again :)

  5. I am in the same place. But Feel like I am getting to where I was before having my baby and enjoying running again. So glad that you are back at it!
    Jenn@Mark My Miles!´s last post ..Gone Running and a Dream Wedding.

  6. Do you read Daily Garnish? She was recently talking about how after her first baby (who is now 2.5 yrs) she had a really hard time getting back to running – it was hard and she simply wasn’t motivated. Now, after baby number two, she’s finding that she’s a lot more motivated and it’s easier for her to get back to it and actually enjoy it. I hope that you really do start feeling like your old self in terms of running sooner rather than later, but if not – don’t fret, girl! Having different priorities now that you’re a mom to your FIRST baby is nothing to be ashamed of. And, for the record, running 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week DOES make you a runner. I consider myself a runner and if I’m not actively training for a race that’s all I seem capable of motivating myself to do. :)
    Chasity´s last post ..Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

    • Oh of course…and I didn’t say that to take away from anyone who does only run a few times a week (also – for the record, I think that’s awesome at 5 months pregnant!!). It’s more my own expectations for myself, and adjusting to this new version of normal. :)

  7. I did give up running for years! I couldn’t run while pregnant, and my daughter and I both had a lot of health complications after she was born, so running just fell off my radar screen for a long time. Like you, though, once I started up again, I felt like I had come home. :) Please don’t beat yourself up over four runs per week- that absolutely doesn’t mean that you aren’t a serious runner! Think about all you have to juggle- work, motherhood, being a spouse, a friend , a housekeeper… When you think about it, fitting in four runs per week is pretty amazing! I didn’t get off the couch until my daughter was almost four, so I, for one, think you are doing amazingly well!
    Catwoman73´s last post ..Yet Another Quick Update

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement! It’s easy to just get frustrated with the current situation and forget to put it all in perspective. I’m just still in that adjustment period where I’m trying to figure out what exactly my “new normal” looks like.

  8. I try not to get caught up in whether I’m considered a runner or not, I love running but I also love the fact that I have a beautiful family. A small trade off for a short period of time, now that you’re back into it, it will be like you never stopped..

  9. impressed by you, my friend! it is a lot to balance…from what my sis says, it gets easier!
    elizabeth´s last post ..Back to Back Racecation Weekends

  10. I’ve really struggled with adjusting my expectations-before I got pregnant, if I wasn’t running 4-5 days/week then I was being lazy and anything under 4 miles wasn’t long enough. And now, with an almost 10 month old? Well, I just trained for a half marathon running twice a week…which makes the old me cringe. But I did it. And my nonlong runs are a lot shorter and less frequent. But I’m okay with that. It’s all about balance and now I’ve got a very important, adorable, baldheaded and blue eyes addition to tip those scales so I have to adjust everything to rebalance it all :)
    Lori´s last post ..Shocked.

  11. Your experience probably rings true for every mother out there. -I adopted my 2 kids and was still surprised to find that I just don’t have the time to train for long(er) distance races right now. I also found that I’m better off running without the Garmin right now. I went from obsessing about trying to hit time goals for 1/2 marathons (waaaaay slower than yours, but still time goals -I even hired you to help coach me to some of those times :) ) to finally realizing that I don’t really have time to really be happy about working on those goals because I don’t have time to actually accomplish them without giving up too much in other areas in my life. So, over the past 6 months I have been getting up at 4:30AM to run because that’s the only time I can run. I don’t wear my Garmin, but I do wear my Timex and I set my stop watch for however long I can run on that day. I run by feel and I enjoy almost every run. I’ve always doubted my status as a real runner because I’m slow, but once I took off the Garmin and stopped training for 1/2 marathons I really doubted my status until one day I was talking to a “real runner” who laughed at me for not being willing to call myself a runner… he told me that as long as I am willing to get up at 4:30AM, use what little free-time I have for running, and still talk about running with a smile on my face then I should call myself a runner. -The fact is you are the only one who cares how fast or how far you run. You should allow yourself to go out there and enjoy the time you DO have to run -and just run without any pressure that the run is too short or too slow. -You love running and you love competing and you love being a Mom. -You can figure all that out and you can still set lofty running goals, just give yourself however much time you need to get it all figured out before you start beating yourself up for what your’re not doing. -Glad you had at least that one happy run recently!

  12. I am super happy that you have the running itch back! Honestly, I fell into the same slump when one day, I just decided to take a break as I was in school and all my exams and going out with my friends seemed to get in the way of running. I felt like I had no time to do anything at all, and time flew by. I really think our bodies adapt quickly, which is why you did not miss running a lot during your time off. We get so caught up in life! That being said, the first day I went back to running, just like you it was GLORIOUS. I felt the same rush of endorphins I used to get, and my body loved it. Now I try to run, at least three times a week but it can get tough! Also I believe even if you run once a week, you can still call yourself a runner =) everybody has a different pace!

  13. Man, I have BEEN there. Recently! Ha. I noticed this after every Ironman, that week of recovery afterwards, how EASY it was to just… not. And then when I went back to work after the baby, how quickly the day would go by, and there I was, just …not.

    I’m glad the moments have passed, but man, I totally get how easy it is to not do it.
    LizScott´s last post ..Oooh, You Should Read This

  14. Go with what feels right in your heart. That may change on a moment by moment basis! Having a little one definitely changes the game in so many ways. Sounds like you are doing amazingly well navigating all the changes. Letting go of expectations is really helpful :)
    MILF Runner´s last post ..How to celebrate. (aka Shameless Birthday Pimp/Attention Whore Post)

  15. I was so with you on this post until you changed your tune to loving running again. Haha
    I could never make running a priority after I went back to work and had a long commute. But I also knew I was gonna get pregnant again so maybe after this baby I’ll try a little harder. Maybe.
    Lizzy´s last post ..The Holidays

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