19 September 2014

on why i'm no longer an every day runner

I read a post a few weeks ago on A Cup of Jo about how, if asked to describe ourselves in five words at varying phases of life, you might not find any overlap between the words a few years apart. It resonated with me because, just that day Robyn and I were talking about how a year ago, if we'd been asked to describe ourselves, we both would have said "runner" first. 

But today?

It wouldn't even be in my top five. 

A healthy living and fitness enthusiast? Absolutely. Someone who prioritizes exercise? Yes. But for me, right now, long distance running doesn't align with healthy living in my life. 

After years of having too many rules around my relationship with running - from a minimum distance required each day for it to "count," to needing to do intervals and stairs and sprints and all sorts of things in between -  I have learned that it's healthier for my mind and body to exercise differently. I have learned not to fear weights, not to worship cardio, to take rest days, try new classes for fun and even "count" walks. 

I have learned to have a healthier relationship with exercise for the joy it brings me and for the amazing things it does for my mind and body when it isn't abused. Because, just like anything else, exercise is so good, but too much of anything isn't good anymore. 

That's a lot to gain. But what about the things I've lost? What about the way I used to be able to run far and fast? And about how my body looked different - to some, maybe better? About how I went out, without training, and won a triathlon? What about how I used to have visions of completing a half Ironman and now I don't even run every day?

If I let myself, I can get a lot of anxiety about losing all of those things. About losing so many of the attributes that once made me feel like me. 

But the anxiety is worth pushing through. Because a year ago, I could have described myself as a runner. But two of my other words could have been rigid and fearful. Because I had no room for flexibility in my day - I had to run these miles and exercise this way in order to feel like I'd earned my keep. And I feared what would happen if I didn't. 

Today, I might not be winning any events or dreaming of being a sponsored Ironman competitor. Not even close. But I have learned to have balance. I have become less afraid. I have become less rigid and more flexible. I have become someone who is having more fun and who is overall happier. And for right now, that's a lot more important in my life than being able to say I run every day. 

Some notes: 
1. This is a joint post with Robyn. Read about her journey with running here.
2. Just because my relationship with running has changed does not mean I believe running is bad or wrong. Many people have perfectly healthy relationships with running and I think that's wonderful :)


  1. loved this post! i used to run cross country in high school and ran my first marathon last year. it was exhausting to have to run x amount of miles every day, and that combined with the fact that i was falling in love with olympic lifting meant taking a nice long break from running after the marathon. it's freeing now to just run when i feel like it and not because i have to! and i'd have to say.. i don't know if 'runner' is one of the first things that comes to mind if someone asked me to describe myself. and that's totally okay :)

  2. Thanks for writing this post! It resonates really deeply with me. After running cross-country and distance track in high school, running cross-country in college, and then logging 100-mile weeks (I know – ugh) while I trained for marathons for two years after college, a difficulty led me to take a break from running – and that led me to discover a lifestyle that makes me feel more alive than I’d ever felt. Like you, I no longer am an everyday runner, and, despite the occasional guilt and shame that I feel when I notice how my identity has changed, I mostly love my newfound freedom. I still care about living a healthy and active lifestyle – I bike-commuted the ten miles to school this morning, I’m going swing-dancing tonight, and I plan to go rock-climbing tomorrow – but I don’t “count” in the way that I used to. I’m not as rigid. After today’s and tomorrow’s activity, on Sunday I may do a run or go for a walk,or disregard activity in lieu of eating brunch and then hanging out with my nieces. Whether or not I run, life will go on, and everything will be okay, and I’m so grateful to know that.

    You're so wise. :) :)

    1. i love love love your story. thank you for telling me! we're all learning together!

  3. Love this! I can totally speak to it and absolutely adore the posts you share :)


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