I’m Not a Runner Anymore

This morning on my way to work, I had a somewhat disturbing thought. I was checking my email on my phone and saw that I had a few friend requests on the Daily Mile, where I haven’t posted since November. And in a very human, selfish, and impatiently annoyed moment, I thought, “Why do people friend me on here? I’m not even a runner anymore!”

It was so automatic that it scared me. I take 2 months off, have one painful 2 miler, and my brain jumps to the conclusion that I’m not a runner anymore? How did that happen?

first halfThe thing is, I do miss running. I miss the feeling of accomplishment after a tough workout, the quiet of the long run, even intervals on the treadmill and mile repeats. I know the marathon training was rough on my body–a lot rougher than expected–and it makes me mad that I’m still in pain after 2 months off. I mean, I didn’t even want to run a full marathon. The only reason I did it was because I qualified for NYC with my half time. Before that, I had zero desire to run 26.2. Even leading up to the race, I never felt excited or nervous or even all that prepared. I was ambivalent about the whole thing, mostly because I resented the training. I was irritated that it was so hard on me, that I was exhausted all the time, that it seemed to have taken my love of running from me.

And then there’s the prideful side of me that’s really irritated that I couldn’t go the distance. Running a marathon was too hard for me. I couldn’t cut it. I failed. Yes, I know I said I didn’t feel like a failure at the time, but looking at it now, I do. I spent months logging miles, waking up early, dedicating whole Saturdays to long runs and ice baths and foam rolling, and for what? Not only did I not run a marathon, but now I don’t even like running. It doesn’t make me excited or happy. It just hurts and frustrates me.

half15

In a lot of ways, I think my feelings about running parallel most of the relationships I’ve been in. At first, I’m excited and happy and dedicated and addicted to the endorphins. And for a while, things go along just perfectly. Sure, there’s a setback here or there, but that’s normal and not devastating. But then, it slowly starts to deteriorate. Something feels off here or there, and then it starts feeling off more and more–which only makes me push harder, try harder. Because I should be able to do this. I shouldn’t be failing. I do everything in my power to fix it, but everything in my power isn’t enough. The tighter I hold on, the more it slips through my fingers.

It’s hard to feel like a failure at something so many other people can do successfully. I know it’s not easy for anyone to run a marathon, but I also know that with hard work, a lot of people do. People who “aren’t runners.” I was a runner, so why couldn’t I do it?

Now that I know my injury hasn’t healed, I’m not sure of the next step. Running is the only thing that gives me pain. Do I go back to the doctor? Physical therapy? Cross train? Honestly, I barely have time for workouts right now, let alone doctor’s appointments and PT several times a week.

I had a good few years with running, so maybe it’s time to let go and move on.

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24 thoughts on “I’m Not a Runner Anymore

  1. I might be in a similar place with you, re: not being a runner anymore. I have to wait on my diagnosis until March/April at the very earliest. My thoughts are with you in figuring out your relationship with running fitness and the like. Good luck!

  2. terrid614 says:

    awww, just hang in there, buttercup….and do what feels right, at this second, at this moment….etc….we ALL beat ourselves up over various things, whether its not finishing something, a failed relationship or really anything that we do not feel meets the standards we set for ourselves…..which is silly really. as women, we tend to set our standards so high that sometimes, even though they might not seem out of reach, when things do not go as planned we beat ourselves up. just do what you can today. thats all that matters. this too shall pass and if you decide to start running again and your body allows it, then you can…..but until….just keep smiling! you’re positive outlook has such a great influence on this blogging community!!! 🙂

  3. I want to say that I don’t think you are NOT a runner. When running causes pain, ya I would hate it too. Just two year ago I took six months away from running because of an injury. My body needed that time, sure I could have started at month four but I didn’t. I let my body find the time it wanted to return. I think you should do the same, just do what you want now and let your body dictate it

    • You are so right, Alex. It obviously isn’t the right time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wait a while and see what my body wants to do in a month or two. Thanks for the perspective :)

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  4. You will always be a runner in my eyes because you inspired me and continue to do so with my journey on the road. And you have so many great running accomplishments (and I am sure memories!) under your belt. So you might not be running RIGHT THIS MINUTE, but I think down the road whether it be two months from now or two years, you will be back out there.
    And remember, distance does not make the runner. The heart does. You do not have to run marathons or even half marathons to be a runner.
    For now, do your (PAIN FREE!) thing! Enjoy your workouts. Your running shoes will wait for you! Promise.
    xoxo

  5. You are most certainly a runner. And a drama queen. 😉 Everyone needs a break, everyone gets injured or burned out. Do what you have been doing, which is not forcing it. That’s when your amazing running self will be back in action. Don’t worry about what you did in the past. Yeah, it sucks to DNF, but also there are a lot of races in the sea that you will rock when you’re ready.
    Also, #vegan. Muah!

  6. I can totally understand your frustration. I had to get stitches in my ankle after I fell off my bike last August, and from then on, started having ankle/calf pain on my left side.My fall races were all pretty terrible and I could no longer run continuously for more than 1-2 miles at a time (I would have to stop and walk or stretch/massage). However, I was signed up for the Houston Marathon and continued to train for it– my training was HARD and even though I put in the miles, they weren’t ever completely pain-free, and even worse, I was began to doubt myself more and more.

    Then, a little over a month from the marathon, I got hit with the a cold, followed by a stomach virus, and then the flu!! Sick for 5-6 weeks, I barely ran or worked out and ultimately decided I needed to defer my marathon entry. It was heartbreaking, but I’m over the flu and the best part is, I’m running again without pain! I definitely think its best to give your body the time to heal and do other workouts that you can do– I found a love for swimming while I was healing from my ankle injury and now I try to incorporate more swimming and yoga into my routine. Oh yeah, I also started doing bodyrock.tv too! =)

  7. I think we all get frustrated, upset, or feel uneasy about our running. Sounds like you just need a break and your body. You might eventually come back to running but even if you don’t you are still a runner, just a runner who has chosen to try some new things. Because I have faith that you will find someway to expend that energy that running use to take up. Hang in there and be gentle with yourself!

  8. I still think you’re a runner (my coworker who hasn’t been able to run in 15 years still considers herself a runner!) — but I understand that need and desire to take a break. You’ve gotta find something that makes YOU happy AND makes you feel good. Life is too short!

  9. I feel the exact same way! I also feel like a fake, because my blog is named “Sara Runs” and I haven’t been running much for a year because of my pelvic stress fracture. I’ve had a lot of time to think about my future in running and I’m not sure marathons are for me. I signed up for Boston, but I’m 90% sure I won’t be able to run it because my MRI from 3 weeks ago still showed the 2 fractures.

    Honestly, I’m not sure I’m able to take care of myself well enough to run marathons. They are extremely hard on your body so you need a lot of sleep and a lot of food and I don’t think I can make that a priority in my life right now.

    BUT… just because we’re not running marathons doesn’t mean we’re not runners. I’m planning on making running fun again by running with my friends, not paying attention to my pace (leaving my Garmin at home) and I’ll run when it’s warmer and nice outside.

    • You are SO not a fake!!! I’m so sorry that your fractures are still there, but I think it’s good that you realize you can’t commit to the stress of a marathon and that you’re taking care of your body.

      Good thinking waiting to run until it gets warmer. I should join a running group in the spring, too. Thanks, Sara! XO

  10. Hi Melissa, just came across your blog and like other people replying to this post, it seems every runner has an ‘injury season’ along with an ‘off season’ huh? I love running but, like you, the reason why I love it is because it makes me feel great – fast/slow/short/long… unless I’m injured and it actually causes me pain. I feel sad for you to say you don’t like running anymore! The other reason I love running is getting amongst it outdoors. Walking is great for that, but can feel a bit naff when you’re used to running. I run marathons but, equally, find it rough on the body. So I’ve reduced my training load and am tentatively going on the trails. Walk-running here perfectly legitimate and necessary when you tackle some of those inclines. Anyway, I hope you find your love for running again, and I used rehab and the x-trainer (goal focused) as good distraction while I got strong again. 🙂

    • Thanks for the sweet note, Mikki. I do lots of walking these days with my pup, but I agree that it doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. 🙂 I know I’ll get strong again–thanks for your encouragement! XO

  11. flamingjune1967 says:

    I just found your bog, and this is the first post I read. Actually helped me quite a bit, because reading most blogs makes me feel like I am not “enough”… not fast enough, not healthy enough, not thin enough, not running far enough. I just finished my first half marathon last month, and the fist thing I said was “I will never run a full!” This post actually makes me feel content with that decision. I am injury prone and have struggled with one thing after another since I started running last year. Now, I am beginning to think that the smartest thing might be just to dial back and enjoy the ride.

    • I am so glad you can relate! Congrats on your first half–that’s a huge accomplishment! I agree that comparing ourselves to others is the best way to make us feel inadequate. Running 13.1 miles is nothing to sneeze at, and we have to learn to celebrate our own accomplishments. Best of luck to you! XO

  12. Reading this makes me sad, mostly because I get it. I’m injured right now, too, and whenever I attempt running I get insane pain in my knee…and it lasts for weeks even after I stop running. So first, I would say that if you’re having pain after 2 months off, I would REALLY recommend going to see someone about it. I go to Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy over by the GW Hospital, and I love them. I think they work with the DC Tri team, so they’re really good about getting people back to being active quickly.
    Ok, that being said, don’t push yourself to run when you aren’t ready. Everyone needs to take time away, but if you force yourself to come back before you’re ready, you’ll always resent the sport. Perhaps being fully healed is the difference you need. I don’t know. But I do know that giving up something that’s been a part of your life for so long over one bad run isn’t worth it. Yeah, sometimes training cycles suck and you aren’t happy with the outcome. But that’s all a part of learning who you are as a runner. Remember, in this sport, it’s about trying to improve on your last race, not about whether or not you can run just as much as someone else. Avoid the comparison trap and make whatever decision is right for you, though. And coming from someone with chronic back problems, go get your injury looked at! Your health is the most important thing you have.

    • Thank you so much for this, Amanda. And for the recommendation. I’ve been putting off going to the doc mostly because I haven’t had the most positive experiences with doctors recently, but I know I need to go. You’re also right about not going back to it too soon. I need to let myself be ready.

      Good luck to you with your rehab–hopefully we’ll both be healthy again and we can plan a running date! 🙂

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