Alternate title for this post: do you still blog?
The answer to both of these questions – I suppose – is yes, but I took a little break! I realized that after signing up and starting to train for marathon three years in a row only to wind up injured and out a race fee, a break was necessary. I’ve spent A LOT of money on race entries for races I never got to do and copays for doctor and physical therapy appointments. Not to mention all that time training only to have it cut short. Aside from the time and money spent, I’ve also had plenty of time to wallow in self pity and feel sorry for myself. Questioning whether or not I was “cut out for running” has been the theme for the last few years. But now that it’s been a full year of yo-yo running with my longest no running streak since I started in 2009, I’m ready to refocus.
Part of my problem – self inflicted of course – has been my obsession with running a marathon. Not because I like running them – and I like training for them even less! – but because at some point along the way I decided THAT was what would make me a runner. Thinking about it now that I’ve gotten out of my own head, I realize how silly that is. I can be a badass runner no matter the distance I train and race! But because I had this idea in my head that I needed to run a good marathon, I set myself up for repeated failure. I’d start to train, get hurt and take time off, get back to running and try to make up for lost time, and start the cycle all over again. Each time, my body cried out and I ignored it. Until this time.
If you’ve been following along, you know the last marathon I truly trained for (and even that was half-assed!) was Chicago 2012. I had plans to run Richmond in 2013, but issues with my sinus tarsi in my right foot forced me to drop to the half. I was able to spring board off of that and have a killer spring and summer where I crushed my half marathon and 5k PRs, but just under a month before the 2014 Philadelphia marathon I developed a really stubborn case of ITBS… and running hasn’t really been the same since. I got back to double digit runs by late spring 2015, but managed to develop sinus tarsi pain in my left foot this time. Being as stubborn as my previous ITBS injury, I knew Chicago 2015 wasn’t going to happen for me. So if you’re counting, that’s three marathons in a row I’ve been forced to DNS. Thankfully Chicago allowed me to defer to 2016. So, fourth time’s the charm?
I went to Chicago for the marathon this past weekend even though I wasn’t running. It’s one of my favorite cities and I knew a lot of people racing; it was a perfect excuse for a long weekend away. I spent all day Sunday cheering and being inspired. But I really never had a “I wish I was running a marathon!” moment. Instead, I just wanted to be running. That realization was a big shift for me. Since my last injury I’ve been afraid to start again. Worried I’d just be counting down to my next injury. Convinced I’d never reach the lofty but attainable goals I had once set for myself. But I can’t just quit something I enjoy because it’s been a bit of a struggle, can I? That’s not who I am as an athlete — I know I have some raw ability, but I need to work for it. I know what needs to be done, and I need to just start doing it.
So back to the title of this post: do I still run? Well, I haven’t consistently in a year. But that changed on Monday, October 12th when I decided it was time to stop being afraid and to get back to doing something I love – running. But it also marked a change in my approach. I am a HUGE planner and love to throw races up on my calendar… which is great until you get injured. So that’s the first thing I’m doing differently. I’m not signing up for any races. The only thing on my calendar is the 2016 Disney 10k and half marathon in January. There’s nothing else on my calendar and I plan to keep it that way. If something presents itself in a month where I can sign up the day before or day-of, I’ll consider it, but I’m otherwise not committing to anything. And nothing longer than a 10k. I also plan to spend more time focusing on ‘the little things.’ I think I’ve improved on that front during each running cycle, but it obviously hasn’t been good enough. I need to make the extras a priority. I’m hopeful that this new laid back but focused approach will work for me, and I can get back to a place where my relationship with running is more “on” than “off.” And besides, I know I’m a great cowbeller, but it’d be nice to get the cheers for a change!
So here’s to my comeback. One methodical step at a time.