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Born To Run?

This is a difficult post for me to write but it is something that has been on my mind recently.

I am not so sure that my body was made for running, especially distance running.

This is not something that is easy to admit, much less accept, but all signs clearly point in this direction. Let’s take a quick look at my history with running and injuries…

  • It started back in college. I quit cheering and started running. I loved it so I ran more. The more I ran, the more I hurt. By my senior year (2005) I had a mean case of bursitis in my left knee. I rehabbed that injury and successfully trained for and finished my first half marathon the next year (2006).
  • In 2009, I registered for my first marathon. At this point, I had added strength training to my fitness routine and felt confident that my new stronger body wouldn’t be as susceptible to injury. I started training and as I slowly upped my mileage, I developed Achilles tendonitis in my left leg. It took hundreds of dollars of physical therapy to get me to the starting line but I was determined to tackle 26.2.
  • Later that year I was ready to run another marathon and registered for the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte. I kept up the weight training and started practicing yoga, focused on avoiding injury this time around. I was extremely frustrated to develop really bad pain behind my knee (this time on the RIGHT side!) that forced me to drop down to the half marathon.
  • Fast forward to 2010 when I decided to make a second attempt at running a second marathon. Again, as soon as I began to approach 40 miles per week, I ended up injured. This time with the hamstring injury in my left leg. With aggressive treatment and a lot of willpower, I was able to finish the Marine Corps Marathon in October and then set a half marathon PR a month later at the Thunder Road Half Marathon but that was kind of the end of the road for me and distance running.

At the end of 2010, I was frustrated with running and needed some time away. Yoga teacher training was the perfect distraction. I hardly thought about running January-April. After teacher training ended, I was eager to jump back in and get some races on my calendar. I announced my plan to run a 15K trail race and half marathon and got to work building my mileage again. And then my hamstring injury flared up again. And my right hip began to bother me.

So here I am. Confused. A little sad. It seems that no amount of strength training, foam rolling or yoga can prevent these injuries. I know there are dysfunctions in my body that cause them. Lack of flexibility in my big toes (thus impacting my gate and causing a bad movement pattern and repetitive strain) is the culprit that my first physical therapist and yoga teacher blame. There are also issues in my lumbar spine that cause my hips to become misaligned (thus pulling the left hamstring attachment and causing the pain in the right hip).

Given all of my struggles, I really don’t understand how some people seem to be born to run. You know those runners who knock out multiple marathons a year while maintaining high-mileage training, setting PRs left and right and never get injured? I wonder what more I can do to make my body okay with running?

I try to be okay with running short distances – sticking to 3 or 5 milers. I should be happy with that, right? So why this urge to distance run? What is it about a long run that feels so good? Now that I know what it feels like to finish a 16 mile run, I crave the sense of accomplishment, the time on the road. I love being a part of the running community. I get chills thinking about attending race expos and lining up at the starting line. And tears in my eyes when I think about crossing the finish. I am NOT willing to accept that my days of distance running are over. Stubborn? Yes.

What do I do? The easy answer is “stop running.” Anyone I talk to about my history with running and injuries is always quick to ask, “and why do you keep running???” while looking at me like I’m completely crazy but it’s just not that simple.

I love it. It makes me happy. It makes me feel alive. It identifies me. I can’t imagine giving it up.

And that’s where I am right now. There is no perfect answer but this is a post I needed to write for my own sanity. As always, I so appreciate your support and sticking with me through the ups and the downs.

{ 143 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Lizzy August 8, 2011, 9:54 pm

    Such a great post!!!!!! I totally understand where you are coming from. I had no idea you had achilles tendonitis- that’s exactly what I suffered from for many years. I think there is nothing wrong with 3-5 milers. There is so much pressure for everyone to run a marathon when in fact, running a fast 5k or 5 miler is just as impressive. Running is an amazing stress reliever but you’ve found that with yoga as well. Your days of running are definitely far from over. I think its all about running smart. Not all of us can run 6-7 days a week and not get injured… and just remember my favorite quote from my friend Becky. “Running makes you a runner. Marathons do not.” So whether you run a few miles or 20 miles, you’ll always be a runner in my book : )

    • 2
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:34 pm

      lizzy – thank you so much for your comment and encouraging words. i did struggle with achilles tendonitis for quite a while but that injury healed and now it’s my hamstring that is bothering me. sigh.

      for the short-term, i definitely will be focusing on the shorter distances and becoming better at them.

      i love becky’s quote! it’s so true.

  • 3
    Thais August 8, 2011, 9:58 pm

    Wow I definitely understand why this post must have been hard for you to write!! I think no matter what you decide to do, you will always be a runner because your heart is the heart of a runner. At the same time, your poor body deserves some respect! Doesnt mean you have to go from one extreme of marathon training to the other of no running at all. But when you listen to your body and compromise with your mind, i think you’ll find a happy compromise. If you want to be running well into your 50s and 60s – you gotta slow it down just a tad! I know what its like to always be injured – sending you lots and lots of healing love!

    • 4
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:35 pm

      thais – thanks for the comment and the perspective. running and being active for many years to come is very important to me so i am willing to take care of these things now to make sure that can happen!

  • 5
    Ashley August 8, 2011, 10:03 pm

    This is such a great post! While I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles, your honesty is refreshing. I’ve experienced quite a few injuries too and I watch some of my other friends make it seem so easy I get frustrated and down on myself. Your blog has really helped to inspire me to keep at it though. Thank you for being so honest and I wish you many miles of running in the future! 🙂

    • 6
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:36 pm

      thanks ashley – i am sorry to hear that you have also struggled with injury. i’m really working to respect my body and let it recover right rather than pushing through pain. i hope that i can help others going through the same thing.

  • 7
    Jo August 8, 2011, 10:03 pm

    I’m in the same boat as you & totally understand what you’re going through. I have been struggling with ITBS & chronic achilles tendonitis for months and have tried conservative tx – foam rolling, physio, sports massage, yoga, chiropractor, pre/post run stretching, a healthy diet and cross training but its all temporary. Now I can’t make it more than a couple miles without pain. I was really athletic as a kid and I’m wondering if the minor sports injuries I acquired when I was younger messed up my body for good? It’s really frustrating, especially when people tell you to “just stop running”. I’m also starting to wonder if long distance running just isn’t in my cards, but I”m not ready to give up yet…. and I don’t think you should either!

    • 8
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:38 pm

      jo – i am sorry to hear about your struggles too. i’ve tried all of the things that you have – it’s very frustrating.

      for now, i think that i will take a break from the distance running and let my body get back to 100% and then see if i can slowly work back into it.

      hoping that you find a way to deal with your chronic injuries too.

  • 9
    Holly @ RUST BELT RUNNER August 8, 2011, 10:03 pm

    Don’t give up! I can identify with a lot of what you said here. I have had my share of ailments, although I have yet to tackle a full marathon, only a half.

    My conclusion thus far is, yes, some people are built to run. Dean Karnazes anyone? For the rest of us I think we can run but it takes a tremendous amount of effort. X-Train, Stretching, Foam Roll, etc. Keep that effort going. I know you will get past this.

    Have you looked into minimalist running? Considering your history with injuries, it could be worth looking into. I’m using the Vibram FiveFingers and actually have been doing quite well in them.

    Just a thought. After all you’ve been through it probably wouldn’t hurt. Some folks swear by barefoot, even people previously plagued by injury.

    • 10
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:38 pm

      holly – i agree. we have to take GOOD care of our bodies and treat them kindly so that they will continue to let us run.

      i am going to look into the minimalist running. thank you so much for the suggestion!

  • 11
    Holly @ Pink Runner August 8, 2011, 10:05 pm

    Do you think you build up your mileage too quickly? It seemed like you were doing so much yoga and then were doing 5 milers that were maybe too much to start out with? I’m sure you know what you are doing though and have the stretching, foam rolling, correct shoes, yoga… everything! Kara Goucher was injured like a million times, and look at her!! You’ll find the perfect balance for you 🙂

    • 12
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:40 pm

      holly – i don’t know? i guess i just always keep a base of being able to go out and knock out 3-4 miles and the 5s didn’t feel very hard so that’s a good question?

      i tried to slowly increase the long run mileage though (only working up to 10 before the injury).

      hope i find that balance one day! 😉

  • 13
    Jen August 8, 2011, 10:12 pm

    I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this. I hope you are able to find a solution soon!!!

  • 14
    Margaret August 8, 2011, 10:17 pm

    Being a runner, i think the struggle is a part of the glory. There’s something about running longer distances that make me feel alive, that make me feel like no matter the obstacles in life, if i just keep putting one foot in front of the other, it will always be okay. But relating to the pains of the physical, i can feel it just thinking about it, hips, knees, lower back, swollen feet. I hear those people, just stop, you’re good at other things, why do you do this if it’s hurting you. My solution is to just slow it down, I run long distances, but i leave the garmin at home, i map my run before i go, and I don’t worry about how long it will take me to get to the finish, i’ll still give it a fist pump, and a smile, I’m running to enjoy it, and that helps me. I feel like Sully understands, and likes the shorter runs too ;), I appreciate your honesty, we all struggle through this, and gosh darn if it doesn’t just come so easy to some people. :)It doesn’t mean they love it more or less

    • 15
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:43 pm

      margaret – i completely agree with everything you said about the feeling of a long run. i really like your suggestion to slow down and take the performance pressure off. and yes, sullie LOVES the shorter and slower runs!

  • 16
    courtney August 8, 2011, 10:22 pm

    Better to run distances that your body can handle than to run long distances to satisfy your ego. Imagine injuring yourself so badly that it pained you to run a mile!

    • 17
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:41 pm

      i know! that is why i backed off and completely quit running for 6 weeks. i am just now starting to slowly run again and only if there is NO pain. no run is worth doing permanent damage!

  • 18
    Amy August 8, 2011, 10:36 pm

    I’m so sorry. 🙁 In my very short running career I have dealt with a lot of injuries as well, and it’s beyond frustrating. I don’t have any great advice but I hope you come to some sort of resolution soon.

  • 19
    Cate August 8, 2011, 10:36 pm

    I definitely think some people are more suited to shorter distances and others to longer distances, but like you, I cannot imagine ever not running. (And I don’t think you necessarily have to give up on ever running long again). I’ve had IT band issues, surgery to put pins in my hip after a stress fracture, and a metatarsal stress fracture, but I hope I never have to stop for good.
    Hang in there!

    • 20
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:44 pm

      wow cate – i had no idea that you did all of your running with pins in your hip. that is inspirational. thank you so much for sharing. i’m just going to back off, heal and then slowly build back up when my body feels ready.

  • 21
    Laura August 8, 2011, 10:40 pm

    I would suggest doing walk/runs as specific intervals. The walking will help chill out some stress on your joints, but you’re still running too and will be able to cover longer distances.

    It will be weird at first because you are fast! 🙂 But, I think it might be worth a shot.

    From what I’ve read, you really don’t even lose that much overall time because you are actually able to run faster during those intervals.

    • 22
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:44 pm

      this is a good suggestion and something i have always resisted for some reason but worth trying, for sure!

  • 23
    Allie August 8, 2011, 10:50 pm

    As a high school cross country and track coach, I see my fair share of injuries throughout each season. More often than not, these injuries are due to some combination of over training, lack of QUALITY rest, and building mileage and speed too aggressively.

    I’ve followed your blog for a couple of years and I can tell that you are a very determined, “all or nothing” kind of person. These are typically great qualities, but it seems that your body might be telling you to take a different approach when it comes to running. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up distance running for the rest of your life or that you weren’t “born to run” — it means that the way you’ve been approaching your training just isn’t working for you.

    My advice to you is to get healthy — like, 100% injury-free — and then start running for fun. No garmin, no races, no treadmills. Don’t worry about pace or distance, just get out there and run. Then run some more. And some more. When your body says ‘no’ just back off. Eventually you’ll get there! Let me know if you’d like some specifics about how we handle injured athletes…otherwise, good luck and keep us posted!

    • 24
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:49 pm

      allie – thank you so much for your comment. emailing you.

  • 25
    Scott Lundgren August 8, 2011, 10:54 pm

    What have you learned from your yoga? I’m sure you’ve heard someone say: Listen to where you are and be where you’re at. When you say that running is your identity this sounds like the 50 yr old men whose self worth is tied into their jobs & tailspin when laid off. I’m not saying stop running but consider that as you age the biomechanic alterations of injuries is cumulative. Do you want to run in your 20’s and barely able to move in your 60’s?

    There are many endurance sports, try them all.

    • 26
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:52 pm

      scott – tough love here! 😉

      so i wouldn’t say that running is my only identity but it was the thing i fell in love with first. i can honestly say that i love yoga just as much (if not more) than running now but it’s tough to think about giving up the running because it’s something that i have been doing for over 10 years now.

      all that said, my health and longevity are extremely important to me and nothing is worth jeopardizing that. i will not be stupid.

  • 27
    natalie August 8, 2011, 11:09 pm

    Oh girl, I’m so sorry. 🙁 Maybe tri’s are more your thing?

    Honestly, the way you feel towards running is how I feel towards yoga. I want so badly to be amazing at it, yet my body just doesn’t seem to agree.

    With that said, I think Allie has some pretty good advice. Wish I could help 🙁

    • 28
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:55 pm

      thanks natalie. i’m not sure about tris. scared of the bike! 😉

  • 29
    Blake August 8, 2011, 11:11 pm

    Brave post. You sound like a good candidate to start triathlon training 🙂 You said you like swimming, right?! I wish you luck in dealing with this frustration. You WILL figure it out.

    • 30
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:56 pm

      i love swimming and running but deathly afraid of the bike! i’m a complete klutz!

      • 31
        Liz August 10, 2011, 8:12 pm

        I can relate to fear of the bike! I started biking regularly when my city’s public transit went on strike, and I was a terrible klutz at first. After a few weeks it felt more natural, and after a few months, bicycling feels as fun and freeing as when you were a kid!

  • 32
    Claudie August 8, 2011, 11:33 pm

    Jen, I highly recommend you try barefoot running. In the book “Born to run” it is mentioned that many of the injuries we suffer are due to the running shoes we wear – and the more sophisticated they are, the more likely they are to injure us.
    Last year, while I was doing much more training in my Vibrams, I didn’t suffer an injury… until I stopped wearing them as much, and then just a couple months later, got an injury I still can’t recover from. Many told me: stop running. But I don’t believe in that. I believe that if there’s an injury, there must be something wrong we are doing while running.
    PS: if you do try the Vibrams — do not do too much too soon in them. Because that will definitely cause an injury too 🙂

    PS: go on TED, watch the talk by the author of the book. It’s good, and I’m sure it’ll motivate you. Stay strong 🙂

    • 33
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:59 pm

      claudie – thank you so much for the information on barefoot running and for sharing your experience. this seems to be a popular suggestion and is definitely something that i am going to look into.

      i hope that your injury is getting better. i know it is something that you have been struggling with for a long time.

      i will definitely check out the video!

  • 34
    Danielle August 8, 2011, 11:43 pm

    Great post. I think this is a lesson that the things in life we strive for and that make us happy (having children, losing weight, buying a home…) don’t always come easily. I think working hard through our challenges makes us appreciate just how much we want them and just how much they mean to us:) If we don’t work for it, is it really worth it? I hope you find peace with your running!

    Danielle xoxo

    • 35
      Jen August 10, 2011, 4:59 pm

      danielle – that is such a good point. thank you so much for your comment.

  • 36
    Katheryn August 9, 2011, 12:17 am

    A lot of good advice so far. Like another commenter said, running makes you a runner, not the miles. I have also had my share of injuries and have recovered from them. Changing shoes to a minimalist helped a lot. Running less also helped. I still run 1 or 2 marathons a year and 2 half marathons a year. I only run 3 days a week and run between 20 – 30 miles a week. Good luck!

    • 37
      Jen August 10, 2011, 5:02 pm

      i did the three days a week for my last marathon and it worked MUCH better for me than 4-5 days a week. definitely something that i will be sticking with in the future.

      encouraging that you are still running long distances and that minimalist shoes have helped. thank you!

  • 38
    Sana August 9, 2011, 12:30 am

    I really don’t think our bodies are designed to take the pounding that is running day in and day out. However, that does not meat you can’t run. Running does not have to be a daily thing, I think if more people decided to occasionally run they would have less injuries.

    Injuries are our bodies way of giving us feedback, Hey this hurts!

    • 39
      Jen August 10, 2011, 5:03 pm

      sana – i agree! i try to run no more than 3-4 days a week when i’m really in the running groove. i did a 3x/week plan for my last marathon and it worked well for my body and my schedule.

  • 40
    melissa August 9, 2011, 12:41 am

    This is a great post. I think many of us runners who have to work a bit harder at endurance running asks this question of ourselves, especially when injuries seem to lurk at every corner. Keep at it! As you are making some good progress at getting some miles in again. As some has said, it will make you appreciate what you do accomplish in your running career.

    I just stumbled across your blog a little more than a month ago,and have enjoyed your posts about striving to live a balanced and healthy life. I can really relate to what running means to you and how you are happy to have that identity as a runner.

    • 41
      Jen August 10, 2011, 5:04 pm

      melissa – thank you so much for your comment and for the kind words about my blog.

      i am grateful for the miles that i am getting in right now. i will take a 3-4 mile run over no run any day!

  • 42
    pamela August 9, 2011, 2:13 am

    Oh this pulls on my heart strings. I am in the same position you are. I ran a 16 minute 5K in my twenties and was injured forever after. I miss running SO much, but like you I found yoga. I am in my late 30’s now and I actually like to walk too. A few times a week I run but it’s been a process of letting go gradually …

    You don’t necessarily have to give up. Maybe you can find a therapist to create a training plan for you. He or she could gradually work you back up to your former mileage and cross-train on some of your junk mileage days.

    • 43
      Jen August 10, 2011, 5:06 pm

      pamela – thank you for your comment. i don’t know what i would do had i not found yoga because i love it equally as much if not more than the running. i feel completely grateful to have it in my life.

      i need to embrace walking. i know my pup would appreciate it! 🙂

  • 44
    kate August 9, 2011, 2:51 am

    this is the first time i’ve ever felt compelled to comment (on your otherwise awesome blog) but this is a brave post and a horrible issue to face. accepting personal limitations in any way is always so hard and there is something about physical limitations that is an even harder pill to swallow. I have a similar issue not with running but with snowboarding and wakeboarding.. two sports which have over the years torn and dislocated pretty much every part of my knees (resulting in surgery and 9 month rehab last time) and yet i keep going back for more, trying to find a way to continue to do the sports that i love and like you so eloquently put, make me feel alive. so my conclusion is, you are not crazy, you are courageous and a natural athlete. you will never quit, and there will always be people around to support you, whatever happens. thanks for your blog and words of wisdom.

    • 45
      Jen August 10, 2011, 5:08 pm

      kate – thank you so much for your comment and for the nice words about my blog. it really makes it all the time i put into worth while when i hear that what i put out there has been helpful to others.

      i really appreciate the encouragement and you sharing your story.

  • 46
    Jenn August 9, 2011, 4:38 am

    You should definitely read “Born to Run!”

  • 47
    ~Jessica~ August 9, 2011, 5:44 am

    I relate to every word of this: I’ve run quite a few half marathons and 10Ks but only two full marathons, and missed as many as I’ve run through injury (One in October 2010 with ITB problems and another in May with a stress fracture, and I’m still dealing with it. It looks like I’m destined to miss the October ones this year too, which puts me in the shameful position of DNSing more marathons than I’ve completed). I keep trying to run through the pain, even though it’s a fracture, and no logicial human being would do so. People tell me to just accept that I can’t run, or running is not my sport, or to ‘just stop’ as if I’m completely insane.

    I truly did believe I was born to run: for the first two years of my running ‘career’ I was pretty fast, and every injury resolved itself within a couple of days. It’s heartbreaking to have a taste of success, when a 22 mile run actually felt easy at one point, even at an 8:20 pace, and then to have your world come crashing down around you whereby even a 10-minute mile is agony.

    I think the Blog world exacerbates the problem because every other person seems to be running marathons and as a competitive person I feel like a total failure. I never get the same high or sense of achievement from a short run because, technically, anyone can run a 5K or whatever, perhaps not at speed but with longer distances it displays mental strength and toughness, the mind over-riding the body at some points, and I need that sense of reinforcement. Running brings out the best in me, injuries bring out the worst. I can’t stand seeing people that were slower than me going out and running better times than I can now, it tears me up. I try to be pleased for them but really, deep down, I cry every time I see one of their damn Garmin read-out posts, because I know even six months ago I could have beaten them and it would have felt like nothing.

    I’m really sorry you’re going through this kind of pain too.

    xxx

  • 48
    Win August 9, 2011, 6:53 am

    Jen,

    I know exactly how you feel. When I’m injured, there is nothing that can keep me sane. Cross-training makes an attempt, but nothing comes close to running. I’ve got a proposal for you, however. If it is long distances that cause the injuries, why not focus on short distances 5k-10k and build your speed? Instead of setting distance as a goal, set speed as a goal. Alter your sense of accomplishment from completing 26.2mi to racing a sub-18min 5k or the like.

    • 49
      Jen August 10, 2011, 5:09 pm

      win – i think that is an excellent suggestion and definitely something that i am going to focus on in the short-term.

      and why is there nothing like a good run? well, except maybe a kick-ass yoga class! 😉

      • 50
        Jen August 10, 2011, 5:09 pm

        but don’t put me on the elliptical and expect me to feel happy!

  • 51
    lindsay August 9, 2011, 6:55 am

    no one was really born to run, unless your kenyan (haha). I think our bodies know when to ease up and they signal our minds to back off. To enjoy the small victories in running. Like 5k trail runs, etc. Running should bring you joy, right? Your so wise for knowing whats best for your body Jen!

    • 52
      Jen August 12, 2011, 10:50 am

      haha…the kenyans truly are born to run! and yes, i am trying to get better about listening to those signals!

  • 53
    Lauri August 9, 2011, 7:20 am

    I feel the same way about running.. it is my thing and there is nothing like it for me. It is something about they way my body feels and how I feel about myself after a long hard run. I just went to the Dr. about my knee and he said it was IT band and Patellofemoral syndrome. He referred me to a running therapist. I am still not sure if I will be able to complete my marathon in Oct., but am trying to stay positive. It is so hard for me to not run. I think if I am able to run the marathon after that I might switch to lower mileage race or a tri. Hang in there! I am experiencing your pain.

    • 54
      Jen August 12, 2011, 10:52 am

      lauri – do you foam roll your IT bands? it helps so much.

      i’m so sorry that you are injured before your marathon. frustrating.

  • 55
    Alaina August 9, 2011, 7:22 am

    Oh Jen, I’m so sorry that you’ve been feeling this way lately! I think running short distances a few days a week is still a great way to get in a good workout. It’s such a great way to just be alone with your thoughts, or to be in a race and be amongst all the energy. I think I would have a hard time giving that up too. What you have accomplished with your running is so inspirational. 🙂

    • 56
      Jen August 12, 2011, 10:53 am

      thanks alaina. trust me, after six weeks of not running at all, i am extremely grateful for those short runs.

  • 57
    Katie August 9, 2011, 7:23 am

    This post is exactly what I need right now! I am training for a half-marathon in September, and Sunday was my first really long run – 9 miles. The Wednesday before, my Achilles in my left leg started to flare up, and after resting for the rest of the week, and then going on my 9 mile run, it flared up again. I am DEVASTATED! I want to run my half in September, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. I am going to the doctor tomorrow to find out what I need to do. I am hoping that I can rest it a few weeks and then get back to training, but I don’t know what damage has already been done. Do you still suffer with Achilles trouble??? I don’t want this to end my running. I just got into running and it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me! I love it, and the stress is relieves. Any advice on the Achilles pain and troubles?

    • 58
      Jen August 12, 2011, 10:56 am

      katie – i am so sorry to hear that your achilles is giving your problems. i understand your pain and frustration.

      luckily, my achilles does not bother me at all anymore! it will not end your running if you take care of it now. i used inserts in my running shoes for a while – just little rubber heel lifts that my physical therapist gave me. also, if you wear high heals, STOP! they shorten your hamstring/calf/achilles.

      hope that helps and that you heal quickly. hang in there!

      • 59
        Katie August 12, 2011, 8:50 pm

        I don’t wear heels (just wrote hells!), thank goodness! I went to the doc, and I am taking an anti-inflammatory and resting my tendon for about a week – just cross training and lifting, no running. It feels better already! I thought that it would wreck my running and training, but I am SO glad that it’s not going to put a damper on everything. Thanks for your advice! 🙂 I hope your body gets back to running shape too. I know how wonderful it is to run now, and I NEVER want to lose the ability, so I understand how frustrating it is to be wondering if you are a “runner.” Hang in there, and keep doing what you love, but still taking care of your body. I think you will find your balance. 🙂

  • 60
    Kristy@RunTheLongRoad August 9, 2011, 8:16 am

    Jen, do NOT give up! I, too, gave up cheering in college and started running. I couldn’t believe that there was something else out there that I loved more than cheerleading. And I feel the exact same way you do about distance running. In fact, 20 miles is my favorite distance.

    My advice would be to explore all options – ever thought about trying Vibrams? I’m not pro-barefoot/minimalist running (it wouldn’t work for me) but I know it has helped many people that suffer chronic running injuries. I would explore every avenue. Have you visited a sports medicine doc?

    You do NOT have to give up on your love of distance running. I’ve seen people battle back from horrible injuries and run marathons. You can too…I know it!

    • 61
      Jen August 12, 2011, 10:59 am

      kristy – thank you so much for your comment. i didn’t know that you also cheered (or maybe i did know and i forgot! ;))

      i really appreciate your encouragement. i am going to explore every avenue…it’s just expensive along the way!

  • 62
    natalie (the sweets life) August 9, 2011, 8:24 am

    Jen I can TOTALLY relate to this as I have struggled with many running injuries over the past few years…and have found myself crying on multiple occasions and say I’ll never be able to run again. Though things aren’t perfect now, they’re better than they used to be…mostly because I’ve cut way back on running. I used to run 7 days a week…all through college, with no injuries. I got a little smarter and cut back to 6 days but even then was only running.

    Last year I trained for the Chicago marathon (after recovering from injuries for over a year) on a 3 days a week program…I successfully ran that race, only to find myself injured afterward (from trying to return to running too soon). I’ve since recovered and now run 3 days a week…but even now I have to be careful because I feel my body breaking down if I push too hard.

    I LOVE to run and can’t imagine my life without it…but I’ve definitely had to readjust my thoughts on running…surprisingly I’ve found that I love only running 3 days a week. I can go hard (ish) on those 3 days and I’m stronger and fitter because of the other stuff I’ve been able to include now (esp lifting).

    Hang in there! I’m confident you’ll find an amount of running that works for you!!

    • 63
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:03 am

      natalie – i am sorry that we are both in the same boat with recurring injury. it is frustrating and i have also shed my fair share of tears over it.

      i used the 3 days/week method to train for MCM due to my tendency to get injured and my general lack of time to train. it did work much better for me than running almost daily.

  • 64
    Erin August 9, 2011, 8:27 am

    I can understand how hard this is. Especially seeing where you are someone with such a balanced fitness routine.

    It may sound crazy but have you thought about trying barefoot running? I have never tried it myself and admit the Vibrams are the ugliest thing ever:) but i have heard amazing things about it from friends who have. People who use to get injured the minute they increased their mileage over 40 MPW said they saw no injuries after adding in barefoot running and even running with more minimalist running shoes. Another option would be to do things like crossfit endurance. Basically you do one long run a week and the rest are more strength/interval training. I have heard amazing things about this approach. Including from a friend who has run an insane # of marathons and ultra-marathons.

    good luck in figuring out what works best and what makes you happy in the process!

    • 65
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:04 am

      it is definitely something that i am going to look into.

      and the crossfit endurance sounds really interesting. i have not heard of that. thanks for the info!

  • 66
    erin August 9, 2011, 8:29 am

    I think it’s safe to say you have a competitive spirit 😉 so it’s hard when your brain tells you one thing but your heart says another. Your yogi mind seems very in touch with respecting what you can and can’t do, taking it slow and making adjustments, but your runner’s mind doesn’t always seem as forgiving.
    Although short distances may be hard to accept, it seems that is the better option compared to all or nothing. Listen to your body–I mean, really listen–and hopefully the distance will come back to you.

    • 67
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:05 am

      erin – it is true. i love yoga and running equally but the two do conflict a bit. luckily, the yoga has allowed me to have a little more respect for my body so baby steps…taking it slowly this time and hoping for the best.

  • 68
    Emily Claire August 9, 2011, 8:46 am

    I came across your blog last week from a friend who follows it and saw this post today and had to post something since I can def relate to being riddled with injuries (stress fractures beginning in college running half-marathons all the way to torn ligaments when I started fulls in 2008). Have you considered a change in your running footwear? Or have had your gait analyzed? I switched to barefoot running (Vibram Fiverfingers) in Jan 2010 and haven’t looked back … and haven’t been injured either (ran a full barefoot last October)! I will say that it’s not for everyone and there are some great minimalist options out there (note: a great TAC instructor at the CK Y convinced me I needed actual sneakers for his class since I started developing foot pains since bare feet aren’t made for box jumps, haha). Just a thought and best of luck!

    • 69
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:07 am

      emily – glad you found my blog and thank you for your comment. fun to hear from a local reader! i am so sorry to hear that you have also struggled with running injuries.

      i am going to look into the barefoot running and could probably stand to have my gait analyzed again. i can’t believe that you ran a FULL in vibrams! awesome!

  • 70
    Katie August 9, 2011, 8:57 am

    You have literally just described me to a T. I want nothing more than to be able as far as I want to, and yet my body doesn’t let me. And also like you, my mind has yet to accept that fact. So I keep rehabbing from one injury to the next because I refuse to believe I CAN’T do something. I hope that one day it will sink into my thick skull that I’m not built to run that far and that one day I will actually be ok with that.

    • 71
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:07 am

      katie – i am so sorry to hear that you also struggle with limitations forced by injury. take care of yourself and i hope that you find some peace with running and your body. i know how heartbreaking it can be.

  • 72
    Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) August 9, 2011, 9:39 am

    If you are ‘not a born runner’, than you’re even more of an inspiration to me! I feel like I totally missed out on the ability to run, which is why completing a 5k felt like a marathon to me- I was so proud! After the baby I hope to get back into running, but don’t know if I’ll ever be a distance runner.

    • 73
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:09 am

      thank you brittany. i definitely don’t think that distance running is for everyone…i’m not really sure how i ended up loving it so much because running has never been something that has come easy for me. i know that you will get back into running after the baby and tackle another 5K!

  • 74
    Jen August 9, 2011, 9:52 am

    Jen, my heart really goes out to you. I don’t understand why you and others get injured, despite taking care of yourselves so well.

    I’ve been thinking about the marathon distance a lot lately, too. I can run 1/2s no problem, but once I start training for a full, my stomach completely falls apart and I am so miserable. Like you, I won’t give up on running another 26.2. But if the next one leaves me with GI problems, I’ll probably have to accept the fact that I wasn’t born to be a marathoner.

    Remember, you are such an amazing yogi, fitness instructor, chef, puppy mommy, and wife. It seems you were born to do all of those things so well 🙂

    • 75
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:10 am

      jen – i have had sooooo many conversations with brandon and my family that i need to give up on fulls. my body is pretty vocal about NOT being okay with that distance and the training required.

      thank you so much for the reminder about all of the other things that i am good at! 😉

  • 76
    Hannah August 9, 2011, 9:53 am

    love this post. i totally feel the same way.
    I hurt and its horrible but i cannot stop running!
    I get an adrenaline rush and love the atmosphere of running events!
    i get jealous of people running and they look like it is so effortless.
    I am really not sure where to go from here but i know that not running is out of the question!
    I really think footwear is key to running and preventing injuries.
    I never keep up getting new shoes though i should!
    Let me know if you figure something out!

    • 77
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:12 am

      hannah – i am so sorry to hear that this is something that you struggle with too. i hope that you find something that works for you. you know i will keep you all posted on how things are going with my running.

  • 78
    Whitney August 9, 2011, 10:05 am

    I 100% agree with everything you said in this post!!! I love being apart of the running community and there is not a greater feeling (to me) than completing a long run with my friends. I played basketball through college and when that was over I needed another outlet to challenge me and running was it. I was hooked after my first 5k. I’m now training for my first marathon and am enjoying every second of it. I’ve had some issues with my IT band but I think I’ve gotten it taken care of. I will seriously run until my legs fall off. Love that you are so relatable! 🙂

    • 79
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:14 am

      whitney – thanks for your comment! so exciting that you are training for your first full. do you foam roll your IT bands? if not, you should!

      good luck with the training and the race. let me know how it goes!

  • 80
    Chris August 9, 2011, 10:20 am

    When I think about yoga, one of the basic principles is acceptance. Accepting where you are right now, without worry for where you’ve been or where you might end up, is something most yogis strive for. It is difficult to live in the now. However trying to accept ourselves as we are is part of finding that calming centre. Maybe right now long distance running is not where you are… I hope you find peace wherever that is. Namaste.

    • 81
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:17 am

      chris – thank you for your comment. yoga has been extremely beneficial for my running. it has helped with injuries and helped me become more aware of and connected to my body. i am extremely grateful for my practice during this struggle.

  • 82
    Julie August 9, 2011, 10:50 am

    Finally, someone who feels they way I do!

    2nd 1/2 marathon: IT Band but completed it
    1st attempt at full marathon: stress fracture in left foot 2 weeks before Chicago
    2nd attempt at full marathon: Hip bursitis and piriformis issues 4 weeks before Marine Corp
    3rd attempt at 1/2 marathon: Piriformis

    All I want is to RUN far and long because I love it (and miss it)! I miss my running club, I miss the feeling of accomplishment! And I don’t understand what I am doing wrong or how to correct it. Even after adding in strength training, yoga, foam roller, and $$$$$ of therapy I am still at a loss. I am right there with you…and I am not giving up! Even though NOW I have IT Band issues from low-mileage! AGH!

    • 83
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:19 am

      julie – i am sooo sorry to hear about your struggle with injuries. it’s frustrating to try a ton of treatment options and spend a lot of money only to kind of be in the same place that you were before.

      sending hope and positivity your way that you can run pain-free one day soon.

  • 84
    Kira August 9, 2011, 10:51 am

    I know it might not seem like you can have those things that you like about running without running long distances, but I think you can. I’m really, really happy right now maxing out at targeting the half marathon distance and haven’t had any injury problems. Remember that the goal is to do this for your whole life so you might have periods where you run more and run less. Wonderful post though!

    • 85
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:20 am

      kira – i agree with you and longevity in my running is important to me so i am okay with backing off of it a bit right now.

  • 86
    Tracy Johnson August 9, 2011, 10:58 am

    I’ve been one of your silent readers for quite some time now. Showing up daily for fitness, and healthy eating inspiration. I felt compelled to share this TED.com video titled “Are we born to run” with you. Not sure why, but here it is.

    enhttp://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_mcdougall_are_we_born_to_run.htmltitled

    • 87
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:20 am

      tracy – thank you so much for your comment. i really appreciate you reading my blog! i am watching this video!

  • 88
    Courtney August 9, 2011, 11:04 am

    This is the first time I have commented on your site, but wow, I felt like I was reading something that I wrote. I fell in love with running about a year ago, and haven’t looked back. I started having some injuries a couple months ago, and it was horrible…I would cry because I felt like I was losing my best friend. I thought the same thing as you “what if I am not meant to do this?” I took some time off and researched some articles on my injury (calf), and started to do more stretching and foam rolling (found that information on your site!). So far, so good. I only run on the treadmill now because it feels better when I do, once they are stronger I will run outside again. I am talking to a cross country coach to help me work on my form, so I won’t injure myself again.

    There is no helpful information on there, but I know what you are going through. It is a hard decision to make, and when people told me to not run, I didn’t listen to them. That probably wasn’t the right choice because it could have gotten me seriously injured, but I couldn’t see myself giving it up. I hope that you can figure out something that will work for you!

    • 89
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:22 am

      courtney – i really appreciate your comment but i am sorry to hear that you also have been struggling with injury. i understand the tears and the frustration. it sounds like you are being really smart about rehabbing your injury and i hope that it pays off for you and that you are able to run pain-free and happy!

  • 90
    Dennis W August 9, 2011, 11:07 am

    Happened to catch you note via Catherine’s blog – surprised no one’s suggested cycling! As a re-born road cyclist (with a bad physique for running) I’m totally sold on early-morning rides as WAY better than any running I’ve done! Give Brandon’s bike a try!

    • 91
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:23 am

      dennis – this is a great suggestion but i am SO scared of the bike! i need to get over that!

  • 92
    Katie August 9, 2011, 11:07 am

    Great post! I totally sympathize with this your feelings. I ran cross country and track all through high school with very few problems (mostly just shin splints). I have always identified myself as a runner. Earlier this year I started training for a half marathon and I think I got a bit over zealous. Ended up getting plantar fasciitis and really bad hip pain even though I stretched, foam rolled, iced, did yoga, etc. Once my hips started literally giving out, I realized I needed to stop running (you think I would have realized sooner but hey). I haven’t run for over a month which is killing me–cross training just isn’t the same. I’m hoping I can make a comeback once my hip pain is 100% gone. I don’t think you (or I) need to give up running–I agree I still want to try distance, but maybe just try and take a different approach to it. I was running 5-6 days a week and realize that maybe my body can’t handle frequency + distance, so I have to compromise on one or the other. Hang in there and don’t give up! I know it is such a frustrating thing to deal with.

    • 93
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:43 am

      katie – i am so sorry to hear about your plantar fascitis. i’ve heard that it is so painful 🙁

      i’m sorry that you aren’t running at all right now but i think it is smart to get on top of the injury now and get back 100%.

      i agree that sometimes we need to examine our approach. i hope you find one that works for you.

  • 94
    Hollie August 9, 2011, 11:17 am

    I would say run if you love to run!! It doesn’t have to be black and white. Just do what you can do!!! I am not fast, and I am not built to be a natural runner but I love it and will do it til I HAVE to stop!! If 3-5 milers are fun and comfortable, do those!! Inability to run marathons does not equal the need to stop running!! Just find the balance that works for you and your body. 🙂

    • 95
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:44 am

      such a good point hollie! thank you! 😛

  • 96
    Claire August 9, 2011, 11:17 am

    Jen – I feel your pain!!! You read my post too about being injured – it’s just so tough. I’m going insane not running, I miss it so much. I think the toughest thing for me is not only just feeling relatively unfit, getting super behind in marathon training, not getting my running fix etc, but simply feeling left out – my boyfriend and so many of my friends run, and for the first time this past weekend I was at a party and my boyfriend was making long run plans for the next morning with all my friends – without me. Of course I want him to carry on with training, but was so sad for me to sit there and not be able to participate. Running is, for me, so much about enjoying time to myself, but yes it’s also about community. I really hope you feel better and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being persistent so that you can do something you love! Just keep trying and hopefully you’ll find a solution!!

    • 97
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:45 am

      i miss it too and i’m just so grateful for my yoga practice at this time. it really helps me to channel my anxiety about my injuries and tune in to what my body is telling me.

      i really hope that you are feeling better soon.

  • 98
    Raffi Darrow August 9, 2011, 11:17 am

    I’ve done the opposite – traded in most running for tons of Yoga, and I am happy with seeing the progression I make there.
    I am still part of the running community by cheering on my husband, daughter, and Digital Running teammates, and supporting the DRC team at Ragnar Relays.
    I think overnight relays are a great way for someone who is NOT a distance runner to be part of something big. You can run 3 short legs over the course of 2 days, you can be part of the overall event, there is less pressure to “win” because the focus is on camaraderie. The last Ragnar I was part of (I was a dedicated driver and Team Mom), we had lots of people who only run occasionally but could still manage 20 miles in 2 days, and were a blast to goof around with in the van.

    Do I envy my 14 year old’s trophies, dedication, toned butt, blisters, and Sauconys? Yes, a bit. But I am certainly not removed from the lifestyle and I can still define VO2max if needed 🙂

    • 99
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:46 am

      raffi – i honestly don’t know what i would do without my yoga practice. i really love that you focus on being part of the running community by supporting other runners. that is very cool.

      i still LOVE the idea of the ragnar and i really want to do one!

  • 100
    Becky August 9, 2011, 11:48 am

    Jen – I truly identify with what you’re saying in this post. From the time I started running I was drawn to ling distances. Slow, steady long runs seemed to suit me, but for whatever reason, I don’t feel like that’s really the case. I can feel my body break down a my mileage increases. High mileage for me is low mileage for many distance runners, yet it’s not easy to back down from those miles. I hope you find a balance that works for your mind and body. Maybe you could sign up for a short race that you will certainly rock the socks off. It’s my favorite way to have fun with running less.

    • 101
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:48 am

      thanks becky – i am going to sign up for some shorter races in the coming months and just focus on having fun with those.

  • 102
    LeeAnn August 9, 2011, 12:03 pm

    I am so glad to read this post!! I have gone through the same thing and have had very smart people – my incredible chiropractor and an amazing orthopedic surgeon (who used to be the team doctor for an NFL team and he is also a marathon runner) tell me to STOP RUNNING. There is nothing that makes me feel like running, but I am tired of hurting. When I run, I have a constant pain in my hip and it really wears on me after a while. I have tried the five fingers shoes and have been running much lower distances – the issue is still there. I am very close to giving up. Thank goodness there is yoga.

    • 103
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:49 am

      leeann – thanks for your comment. i am so very sorry to hear about your struggles but agree with you 100% on “thank goodness there is yoga.” i am not sure what i would do without my practice.

  • 104
    Q. August 9, 2011, 12:39 pm

    I have seen so many friends torture themselves with running and the injuries it creates. I think the “runner’s high” and the running culture is a powerful combination and it sucks people in. Based on the fixation with mileage and running through/ignoring injuries, I wonder if it doesn’t start to become an addiction/unhealthy obsession for some people.
    I love that you’re honest enough to say what so many injured runners won’t. It takes a LOT of strength and guts to run 26.2 miles, but I think it takes just as much to accept your body’s limits and say, “Ya’ know what, I did it once and that’s enough.”
    Long duration cardio does such a number on your hunger and stress hormones too. I don’t think we were meant to run in the way that Runners World sells it…

    • 105
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:50 am

      q – love, love, love this comment. thank you for your honesty.

  • 106
    Brian August 9, 2011, 1:21 pm

    Allie hit the nail on the head in her reply above. Your body is telling you to back off and give it time to heal. I’ve been following your blog for just over a year and what I’ve noticed is you’re definitely a “go-getter” and not satisfied when your body says STOP. Try some cross-training. I’m a runner too and keep injuries from sidelining me by being well-rounded with a mix of running, yoga, strength training, cycle classes, and swimming. And most of all, you need a day of rest and that means no exercise…no teaching classes, no going to a yoga class, just rest your body or your injuries will just compound.

    • 107
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:52 am

      brian – allie’s comment was great and i appreciate yours too. i am guilty of being a little too “go, go, go” and have really tried to focus on slowing down a little bit this summer and being better in tune with what my body is telling me.

      my husband agrees with you about the rest day and reminds me of it about 10 times a week. getting better about it.

  • 108
    Jenn August 9, 2011, 1:27 pm

    Jenn,

    I can’t tell you how similar we are and how much I identify with you in so many ways! I have terrible ITBS in my right leg and have done so much research on how to rehab at home and become stronger so that I can participate in the Nike Women’s Marathon this October in SF. I can’t imagine not doing it because it is so hard to get in :), but I also don’t want to be permanently injured. I found a great site called StrenthRunning.com, the guy had ITBS and was out for six months after running NYC. I am no where near his running capabilities, but found his imformation on at home rehab very helpful. He also touches on minimalist running, of which I have also begun to incorporate. I have also found a deep tissue masseuse and have looked into Rolfing (pretty interesting stuff about integrative techniques and alignment). I am getting back slowly with a run/walk rehab routine for a month, then hoping to work up my mileage safely. I still have inflammation in my IT band after cycling and hard workouts and have to just be honest with myself and say enough is enough. It takes so much patience (of which I lack!) and learning how to honor our bodies and our minds. Reminding ourselves to appreciate what we are capable of is so tough sometimes. Good luck to you and I know us readers all hope to hear positive news on the injury front in the future.
    -Jenn

    • 109
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:55 am

      jenn – i am sorry to hear about your struggles with itbs. that is a painful injury to deal with. it sounds like you are being very proactive about treating your injury and correcting the things that caused it. i hope that you get back on the road and get to race soon.

      i also struggle with patience with my body but my yoga practice has helped so much.

  • 110
    Kristen August 9, 2011, 2:39 pm

    I have said this before and I’m going to say again that I appreciate that you share your ups and downs, your struggles with injuries.

    I’m a kickboxing instructor- I LOVE it!! My body does not. I have chronic back pain…and no matter how many hours I spend doing pilates, yoga, back strengthening, going to visit my chiropractor, massage therapist….the best medicine for my injury is to stop kickboxing. Guess what? I’m not going to 🙂

    I just love it too much. So, I rest when it is bad, and spend time on my heating pad, on my “body ice” and with my tens unit. Often you’ll see me with kinesio tape (in lots of fun colors!), and laying on a foam roller to stretch out my pectorals.

    I may get to a point one day where I know I can’t do it anymore, but until then…I am going to keep on keeping on.

    • 111
      Jen August 12, 2011, 11:56 am

      kristen – thank you for your comment. i am sorry to hear that kickboxing is so hard on your body. i hope that you are able to keep injuries under control and keep doing what you love for a long time.

  • 112
    Kait August 9, 2011, 2:46 pm

    First of all, I recently started following your blog and I love it! I passed it along to another running friend and she’s equally addicted 🙂 Second, this post really resonated with me. I’ve been running since high school (cross country) and have finished countless races and a few 1/2 marathons. BOTH times I trained for full marathons, however, I ended up with injuries and had to pull out. After two knee surgeries to repair meniscus injuries and a year in PT to work through SI joint pain, I gave up my dreams of completing a whole marathon. I am able to run about 15-20 miles comfortably per week, but I do a LOT of cross training and strength work now. It is SO hard to be sidelined from running b/c there’s honestly no greater workout to me than running along a trail, but the risk of permanent injury wasn’t worth it to me. After my injuries, I resolved to ease back into it, lay off the speed work, and listen to my body. I don’t even run with my Garmin anymore and I never worry about my pace. I just run to finish. I’m a little sad to know that I can’t handle 26.2, but in the long run (no pun intended), I’m glad to be able to run at all. Good luck, here’s hoping you’re injury free soon!

    • 113
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:01 pm

      kait – thank you so much for your comment and for reading my blog! i am so happy to hear that you are enjoying it (and that you passed it along to a friend! ;))

      wow, i can’t believe that you have had two knee surgeries and are still still able to run. you are amazing! it sounds like you are in a great place with your body and your running. thank you so much for sharing your story!

  • 114
    kat August 9, 2011, 4:08 pm

    I haven’t taken the time to read through all the responses, so forgive me if other posters have already mentioned this…but have you checked out Chi Running? It’s a technique and way of running that is supposed to reduce/eliminate injury. The basic premise is that all running injuries are due to improper technique, and that once you learn and master technique, you can run injury-free for years and years. I have attended several workshops and the world headquarters is based in Asheville, so there is a huge Chi Running community there. My triathlon trainer is a Chi Running instructor and swears by it. Google it – it may be worth looking into. And if you have questions/need connections let me know, I’m in the thick of it up here.

    • 115
      kat August 9, 2011, 4:14 pm

      Here is the link – http://www.chirunning.com. I hope you find some inspiration there!

    • 116
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:02 pm

      kat – thank you so much for all of this information. although i have heard of chi running, i haven’t done much research into it.

  • 117
    Scott Hepburn August 9, 2011, 4:27 pm

    Jen, this is my favorite kind of post: Raw, real, jumbled. Human.

    Learning to live with ambiguity — where “I love this and don’t wanna stop” and “My body can’t take this anymore” co-exist — is a hard lesson. There are no perfect answers, as you say. Finding the harmony in two flawed answers, though, is pretty liberating.

    Thanks for letting us into your world. You’re not alone — and thanks for reminding us we aren’t, either.

    • 118
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:04 pm

      scott – i appreciate you taking the time to read and comment…and for the kind words about my post.

  • 119
    Lindsay@ In Sweetness and In Health August 9, 2011, 4:48 pm

    I’m so sorry about all of your injuries! I have never been much of a runner, but whenever I start to run 4-5 miles on a consistent basis my knees and ankles hate me. So I have always stopped. But I can totally understand why you love it and still want to do it. Hopefully you will be able to find a way to continue doing what you love without hurting yourself!

  • 120
    Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) August 9, 2011, 5:15 pm

    Argh I so feel you Jen!! After only having started running less than a year ago, I’ve already had an ankle sprain and shin splints, which I’ve now been struggling with for 6 months!! But ultimately I love running too much to give it up. Even if I’m injury-prone and not ‘made’ for it, then I’ll reduce my training or not race in the future. As long as I can still run, I’ll be happy 🙂

    I’ve just read all the comments above (some are seriously awesome!!) and I’m definitely going to look into some of the suggestions, like barefoot/minimalist running! I’ve always thought that was just a ‘craze’ though, so I’m not sure…

    Hope you find an answer to this!! <3

    • 121
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:05 pm

      emma – miss you! thank you for your comment. i know that you have also had your fair share of injuries recently. i hope that we both figure out how to run injury and pain free.

      the comments are great and very helpful!

  • 122
    Diane M August 9, 2011, 8:50 pm

    Hi Jen,
    Wow, your body has been through a lot! I completely understand what you are saying because I also trained for two seperate marathons (10+ years between the two) only to stop short (reaching 16-17 miles training) because my body hurt like hell!! Exercise should not make it hard to get out of bed the next day. Listen to your body. You seem ecstatic on your 3-4 mile runs and although I know you crave more, why not shoot for 10k’s?!
    I was a college athlete and never remember a time when i didn’t run. However, when i was in pain because of it and scaled back, it made all the difference in my world. Now I’m so fortunate to have found a love for yoga and enjoy learning and challenging myself with each practice which i never thought would be the case since i was always a cardio junkie. You will find a balance and do what is right for YOU!! Listen to your body; you will find a happy balance and feel awesome!
    See ya soon!

    • 123
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:08 pm

      diane – yes, it’s been a journey with the injuries. a frustrating and emotional one. i am extremely grateful for my yoga practice and being able to focus my energy and passion there instead of pounding the pavement.

      love your point that exercise shouldn’t make us now want to get out of bed the next morning.

  • 124
    Jen W August 10, 2011, 5:13 am

    I’m sorry to hear you are having so much trouble with your ouchies. I have had problems with running, shin splints, and my knees. I’ve had 3 knee surgeries from soccer and running would make them hurt so bad that just walking was excruciating. I switched to running in Vibrams and have been pain free ever since. No shin splints and no knee pain which has been amazing! I highly recommend checking them out. Just don’t go out too hard too fast or your feet won’t have time to adjust and you may get a stress fracture. I may or may not be speaking from experience. 😉 Good luck Jen! I’m rootin’ for ya!

    • 125
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:09 pm

      thanks jen – i am checking the vibrams out. i have heard many warnings to start slow in them though! 😉

  • 126
    Cailin August 10, 2011, 6:44 am

    Great, honest post!

    While I have only in my twenty some odd years of competitive swimming, running etc. been injured for one period of time, I do remember that time period being REALLY frustrating. Like you, I did not want to be told “you cannot do this for x number of weeks or months until healed” or maybe never again! (My injury was related to my back and looking back I think I was doing far too much without resting, eating properly etc). I had to give everything up (not just running) for awhile to begin the healing process, do some rehab and slowly work myself up from walking to running and biking/spinning again. It was not a fun time for me since working out is my main avenue for stress relief.
    Anyway, that being said, I am just curious about your other fitness activities. I could be COMPLETELY off base here since I never take group fitness classes. However, with all of your physical activity in the classes, could something from one of them be causing the stress on your body and then it is rearing it’s ugly head when you try to run? Maybe not, just a thought?!
    Hope you find a solution, I know how frustrating this is for you!!

    • 127
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:11 pm

      cailin – wow, back injuries are scary things. i am so glad you were able to rehab from that.

      you bring up a good point about the other things that i do but the bodypump classes that i teach are pretty safe. very focused on form and alignment while building strength…which i think has helped my body. but it is good to look at the other things and not just blame the running!

  • 128
    Sara August 10, 2011, 4:27 pm

    You said everything I have ever felt about running. I don’t think my body was naturally built to long run; that being said, I was born to run – mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Nothing is more freeing or brings me more clarity, and 3 miles just doesn’t cut it. I’m training for my second marathon now, and I can honestly say that I need to make peace with the fact that I’m better suited for 13.1. It’s long enough to feel accomplished and to train safely, but it’s hard to admit that training for a full beats up my body the way that it does. But, I want to be able to run forever, and if that means making some adjustments now, then I need to figure out how to do that.

    Best of luck. You were born to run, just like I am. Sometimes our bodies just don’t want to cooperate. Don’t give up!

    • 129
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:13 pm

      sara – i am also better suited for half marathons and have had sooo many conversations with my family about that. they hate to see me train for fulls. i actually love half marathons so i need to give up on the fulls!

      i hope that you are able to run happy and pain-free for many years to come!

  • 130
    Meghan @ StruggleMuffins August 11, 2011, 2:19 pm

    What a great post, and definitely a topic I can identify with. When I hit a certain weekly mileage my body just starts to deconstruct…no matter how much icing, stretching, strength training and yoga I’m doing. And still, I push it – because there’s something exhilarating and makes-you-feel-alive-ening about running that I just can’t turn my back on. Have you ever read the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall? It tackles this very subject from multiple angles – its entertaining and informative – highly recommend it.

    • 131
      Jen August 12, 2011, 12:14 pm

      meghan – i am the same way. there is just a magic mileage number that i hit and my body says – NO!

      i am checking out the book! it’s been recommended by many!

  • 132
    Athena August 19, 2011, 10:35 am

    Hi Jen, you’ve been a great source of inspiration since I found you earlier this year. I’m 5’2.5″ and weight about 135. I exercise about 5 times a week doing bodypump, spinning and yoga every once a while. I’ve ran 2 marathons and about 4 half marathons, but has since cut down to running maybe 3 miles a week. I agree with you 100%. I think some people are just not meant to be runners. Also, I’ve came to the conclusion that I don’t want a runner’s body anyways. Most good/fast runners are too skinny, especially guys. I’d rather look nice and toned overall. Staying active is the most important thing. I Love your blog!! I love to see your smile and your food and just get a glimpse of someone’s balanced life.

  • 133
    El September 9, 2011, 8:25 pm

    I love this post! It seems like once I get up to running 12 or more miles for my long runs that I start having problems with my knee….and it’s my hips out of alignment that aggravate the knee. Like you, I love the long distances and I’m training to run this year’s Marine Corps Marathon! My first full marathon! I’m so excited, but I’m anxious and worried about being able to get there injury free. I’ll be running 16 miles this weekend and I hope my knee cooperates. I can’t give it up. It’s who I am, it’s my freedom, it’s my peace and it’s my quiet in a loud and crazy world.
    I love your blog and just found it recently!! I love all your meal ideas and I just went to Trader Joes’ today and got some Sunflower Seed Butter!! YUM!!
    Oh, and I live in Charlotte, too!

  • 134
    Fitmaster May 10, 2014, 9:14 pm

    Have you looked into cranial sacro therapy (CST) or muscle activation technique (MAT)? Both have been instrumental for me – truly a huge difference. Upledger Institue is home for where to find a CST therapist. Give either a try!!!

  • 135
    Drew May 10, 2014, 11:03 pm

    It’s great that you are able to be so honest with yourself, and that’s a sign that you know something has to change and that you’re okay with it… You simply don’t know what you ought to do next. Fifteen years ago I was running ultra marathons but when I blew my left knee out a 2nd time, I was told that my running days were over. I didn’t want to believe it, but several attempts to get back on track failed. And having 2 kids made it easier to resign myself to a sedentary life. But that led to such a poor level of fitness , it was actually depressing. Here’s the good part, in 2012 I started training for a mountain run (100% uphill) and it went extremely well. Vastly more cardio and VO2 max intense and much easier on the joints. I realized (finally) that fitness wasn’t about running on pavement. We have a wealth of capabilities to explore and hone. Engage all of your systems, muscles, strengths and weaknesses. There is so much for you to do and improve yourself beyond the simple-minded pursuit of a PR. Sign up for and obstacle race (Spartan, not Tough Mudder) and find a better way to get that starting line thrill.

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