Running, we need to talk.
I gave you a chance a few years ago when I felt like I had no other options. No, that’s unfair. I apologize. I really did want to give you a shot, even before I actually pulled the trigger. I had dabbled with you back East, running between telephone poles every once in awhile outside on walks, or jogging on the treadmill in intervals on my lunch break. I even began to entertain the idea of wanting to complete a 5k! I was afraid I couldn’t do it, couldn’t commit to you – so I didn’t.
When I moved here to Colorado, I went into a panic about making less money and was convinced I couldn’t afford a gym membership. I had a boot camp class to go to twice a week, but what else could I do? I had been working out five or six days a week before I moved, and I was itching to get started again, lest I slide into weight gain and fitness loss.
Running! Running is free, appealing, and a challenge I had already wanted to take on. Could this finally be the year I completed a 5k?
It could, and it was. I think I completed three or four in 2014, actually. I really began to dig you, running. It made me feel like I was part of a special group of people: runners. Well, sort of. I didn’t like saying I was a runner because I thought people might argue with me about it:
“Oh, you’re a runner? How many miles per week?”
“Oh, you’re a runner? What’s your PR?”
“Oh, you’re a runner? What pace?”
The more I ran, the more frustrated I became with my slow pace. It was hard for me to break out of an 11:00, and since I compared myself to “everyone else” who ran, I felt inferior. I know, running, that my feelings of inferiority aren’t your fault. It’s me, not you.
To make matters worse, the only time I could break my 11:00 pace was if I took walking breaks. You want to talk about feeling inferior? If I had to take walk breaks, then I really wasn’t a real runner!
I decided to try for longer distances. In 2015, after completing a 10k that felt really good, I began to train for a half-marathon. It was the ultimate challenge for me at the time, and I learned a lot, running. I learned about refueling during my runs, putting my arms overhead to avoid fluid buildup in my hands, elevating my feet and meditating at the end of long runs. I learned about the mind-fuck of miles seven through nine, and the thrill of completing a 10-mile run on a sunny Saturday morning. I learned the pure joy of waking up at 5 a.m. and finishing a run before I got to work, energized and confident.
The half-marathon came in October, and I ran it. I use that term loosely. It was slow (2 hours, 44 minutes!), painful, and underwhelming. I crossed the finish line angry and defeated. Everything had been great up until mile 9 or 10, and then it went downhill. Man, my legs hurt so bad at the end, and I had no choice but to keep going. It was absolutely miserable.
My strong emotional reaction and bad race were due to many factors – the biggest one being that I was pregnant.
I valiantly tried to continue running while pregnant but two factors held me back:
- My pace just kept getting slower, and slower, and slower, until I was sure I could walk faster; and
- I was out of fucks to give after having completed a shitty half-marathon.
After giving birth and getting the all-clear, I couldn’t wait to get into your arms again and begin running! And I did, beginning at square one, with the Couch25k running app. It hurt, and I peed myself, which was new. I enjoyed it so much though! It felt so freeing to return to me.
I ran a lot with my jogging stroller, and that was a new adventure. Quite frankly, it was much less enjoyable. Suddenly I was limited to one or two routes – very different from running all over my small mountain town. No more running with headphones, either – no zoning out to my favorite songs. Weather became a big issue – too cold? Can’t go.
Not to mention, my runs were at the mercy of a tiny dictator.
In one final push, I decided to train for another 10k. In the past, having a training calendar helped me stay on track and focus on my goals. But this was new. This was motherhood. Between exhaustion, laziness and all of the curveballs life throws at you when you’re really trying, the calendar started to stress me out.
So I chucked it! I said, “Hell, I’ll just work my way up in mileage and run by feel.”
That didn’t happen, either.
Basically, you stopped being something that made my heart flutter with happiness, running. You started becoming a chore and frankly, I have enough chores in my life. I ran a few races in 2017 – enjoyable ones, really. But it wasn’t enough to keep me coming back to you. I thought I was in a rut, but I think I just need a break.
There are other things I want to do with my life, running, and you just don’t fit right now.
You know what? Whenever you get sad, think about this: I can see us having a fulfilling relationship again one day, when my kids are old enough to get up by themselves, and I can sneak out the door at 5 a.m. to pound pavement again. In fact, I think that sounds rather nice. But it’s impossible right now.
I’ll still see you from time to time, when it feels right. And I need you to know that you were my rock for a long time. But it’s time for me to move on. I have medicine balls to throw, and battle ropes to slam, and kettlebells to swing. I’m in a different place in my life right now, and with different goals.
I will always love you, running! But that doesn’t stop me from telling you that we need to break up.