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#notrunning. And it feels good!

I ran five miles this afternoon. I’m pretty sure this was my longest run since April when I struggled through five miles and had to stop for walking breaks every mile. The difference was that today’s run felt 100% perfect, empowering, relaxing and right.

For so long a huge part of my identity was “runner.” Over the last three years that has changed dramatically. When I started this blog I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon and had multiple halfs and one other marathon behind me. Running was just what I did. I met friends for runs, participated in running groups, ran races on the weekends and fielded constant questions about running from friends, family, co-workers and blog readers. I mean, I named this blog Peanut Butter Runner.

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If you’ve been with me for a while you know that I struggle with injury during high mileage training. These injuries result in frustration, tears, getting down on myself and not performing as well as I know I could. I’ve had high moments like PRing my half marathon time effortlessly and low moments of questioning whether or not I’m even cut out for this running stuff. If you’re new to the blog, check out my post “Born to Run” for my running and injury history.

Fast forward to now. That half marathon PR was almost THREE years ago and that’s the last half I’ve run. I decided to chill on the running because I was starting yoga teacher training and to give my body a break. I was tired of being hurt and running all the time.

I never stopped running over the last three years but my runs slowly evolved to three miles a few times a week. During that time I completed yoga teacher training, deepened my practice, got my personal training certification, started CrossFitting, got my CrossFit Level 1 and just explored other ways of working out in general. I ran occasional races…mostly 5Ks but no distance races.

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Over time, running quit feeling easy and started feeling REALY hard. I would go out for my usual three milers and find myself feeling like I need to stop and like my legs weighed a million pounds. I almost started to understand why people hated running. Recently, I’ve gotten over the hump and my short runs are feeling easy and good again.

About a month ago I had an epiphany. NOTHING HURTS. (I’m going to knock on every piece of wood in my house right now.) Instead of dealing with hip pain, knee injuries, achilles tendonitis…I feel 100% good. My hip is pain-free for the first time since the Marine Corps Marathon in 2010.

When I try to put all the pieces together of why I feel good and injury free…I come up with the answer that it’s the lack of distance running. As hard as I want to fight it and as much as I want to train for another half and get back on the road (fall is my most favorite time of the year to run), I’m scared to death to mess with what I’ve got going on.

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So even though running was my first love, it’s working better for me now to maintain a mix of workouts where I don’t do too much of any one thing. I yoga as much as I can and then supplement with short runs and treadmill/sprint/interval workouts, strength training, high intensity interval training, CrossFit, etc. There was a time when I would run 10 miles on a Sunday and then go teach a strength/sculpting class…a week before a marathon. I don’t know how I ever maintained that level of stress on my body. No wonder I hurt all the time! I think that like most things in life, I thrive with moderation and not too much of any one thing.

I have been wanting to write this post for a couple of weeks now and tonight’s run was the catalyst I needed to get it out! Just wanted to give you all an update on my running lately. I know so many of you are distance runners but that’s just not where I am right now. I’m sure this will all change and evolve over time and I hope you stick with me through the journey!

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Rebecca October 24, 2013, 10:58 pm

    I SO relate! Sounds like you are stronger athlete with the combined workouts- all we can do is listen to our body and do what works best for us. thanks for the great post!

    • 2
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:24 am

      yes, i feel so much better now! it’s hard not to excel/have one sport be your “thing” but i much prefer the variety and feeling good!

  • 3
    Haley @Cupcakes and Sunshine October 24, 2013, 11:01 pm

    I am definitely not a runner! 5Ks are my max 🙂 But I love seeing all of the exercise variety! It makes things fun and exciting 🙂

  • 4
    Kassidy October 24, 2013, 11:20 pm

    Did you deal with runner’s knee? How did you overcome it? I’m dealing with it now and I want to know some good strength moves to get rid of it/

    • 5
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:31 am

      i did not. i had bursitis in my knee. usually runner’s knee is caused by doing too much, too soon. i would recommend cutting back on your mileage and working to strengthen your quads predominantly but also your hips and hamstrings. when you do start to add back mileage/running, do it slowly. also, try not to run consecutive days.

  • 6
    Lindsey October 24, 2013, 11:33 pm

    I used to be a runner too but was also sidelined by a nasty hamstring injury. It was (and is) very frustrating but my sister has finally convinced me to start yoga and I’m liking the challenge so far and hoping that it helps me get me to a better place so I can run a few miles at a time again. Last time I went running I had the same sensation–legs that weighted a million pounds. I felt like a sack of potatoes! Anyways, it’s nice to know that others evolve and change with new sports and experiences!

    • 7
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:33 am

      i’m sorry to hear that you are dealing with a hamstring injury but glad you’re doing some yoga. it will help address the tightness that is created in the hamstrings by the constant shortening of the muscle that happens when you run. hopefully you’ll be back on the road and feeling good soon!

  • 8
    Amber October 25, 2013, 12:39 am

    I am a long distance runner and completed my third marathon and first 50 km race within the last 8 weeks. I have been lucky and have not been injured since 2010. I owe a lot of that to a regular yoga practice! That said, strength training (which used to be a fairly big part of my life) has completely fallen to the wayside. I just can’t find the motivation to do it and do it so randomly that when I do strength train it leaves me insanely sore – usually too sore to run or do yoga in the day following!! I definitely need more balance in my life and I’m hoping getting a gym membership again for the first time in almost 3 years might help with that a bit!

    • 9
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:36 am

      amber – that is amazing that you’ve been injury-free for 3 years. i do think yoga/mobility/stretching work benefits runners SO much so happy to hear that’s working for you. i totally get that it’s hard to fit it all in but you could benefit from even just 1 yoga and 1 strength session a week on top of your running.

  • 10
    Erica { EricaDHouse.com } October 25, 2013, 6:21 am

    I think I will be writing a post similar to your ‘born to run’ after my marathon next month. I know some women can run and run and have zero injury, but I’m starting to believe that my body wasn’t designed for long-distance running as well!

    • 11
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:38 am

      DO NOT get down on yourself that you’re not one of those genetically perfect made for running people. you’re so good at so many other things. although running is addictive for those of us who love goal setting and the achievement of crossing the finish, it’s not worth it if we’re going to hurt all the time!!! there are so many other ways to be fit, healthy and active. and i never had to totally give up running. i just do it when i feel like it now at shorter distances and i can’t tell you the last time i wore a garmin! it’s freeing.

  • 12
    Elise @ 9toFit.com October 25, 2013, 7:40 am

    After two ACL surgeries my body just can’t handle the long distance anymore, so after much resistance I gave yoga a try as well, and haven’t looked back since. My body (Knees) feel SO much better now, so I understand where you are coming from

    • 13
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:38 am

      that’s awesome that yoga is working for you elise. i’m sorry to hear you’ve had two surgeries. be sure to keep all the muscles surrounding your knee super strong.

  • 14
    Whitney October 25, 2013, 8:19 am

    Some people’s body’s just aren’t made for long distance running and are more prone to injury. That’s the beauty of us all being different! 🙂 Running lots of miles makes me feel best! Glad you have found a love for yoga!

    • 15
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:39 am

      i totally agree whitney and luckily there are about a million ways to stay active and fit so there’s something for everyone.

  • 16
    Larissa @ Running with the Dragonflies October 25, 2013, 8:20 am

    Glad running is starting to feel normal again. I run and do yoga and some days if I do too much yoga my legs feel dead for the run. But there is a perfect balance!

  • 17
    Laura October 25, 2013, 9:45 am

    Thank you for putting this transition into words so beautifully. I’m in a similar situation where I’ve gone from regular long distance running to killing myself to keep up with my running club for just 4 miles. I do believe it’s ok to evolve and change your routine, but after reading your post, I’ve come to realize that I’m feeling insecure about this change of pace(in more ways than one!). It’s time to dig into why I feel this way and I hope to find other activities that I love just like you have.

    • 18
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:40 am

      laura – i know it can be hard to give up being the runner girl but there are so many other ways to be fit and active. try new things and see what feels good and best for you and your body and do those things!

  • 19
    Amanda October 25, 2013, 10:09 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! To hear about your fitness journey is so inspirational. Over the past couple years I’ve taken up running, but at the end of this season it just didn’t feel as fun anymore. I’m taking some time to put more strength training back in my life and become a personal trainer! I am not sure where this journey will take me but I hope that by doing more of what I love I’ll blaze a path that makes me happy – I’m so happy to hear that it’s gotten you there 🙂

    • 20
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:42 am

      amanda – congrats on working on your PT cert. which one are you doing!? i seriously believe that strength training is such an important foundation and focus, especially for women.

  • 21
    Megan October 25, 2013, 11:04 am

    LOVE THIS POST! Thank you for sharing. There was a brief moment when I got really into distance running. I only ran two full marathons and two halves, but now that it is four years later I’ve been feeling like shorter distances are better for my body. I think four years ago I really needed something to focus on because life was confusing to me at the time so running helped me through it. Now I feel like running in moderation with a mix of other workouts is best for me. I think we all need to listen to our bodies to decide what is best for us. If your body is hurting, something isn’t right.

    • 22
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:43 am

      megan – i totally know what you mean about needing something to focus on. running is such good therapy and can bring a lot of clarity. i still turn to a good run to clear my head when life is crazy/overwhelming/confusing/etc.

  • 23
    Lindsay October 25, 2013, 11:26 am

    I comletely understand how you feel! I lined up for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon this past weekend, had a “coming to Jesus” meeting with myself, and walked away from distance running for a while. It just isn’t fun hurting your body.

    • 24
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:44 am

      wishing you healing! it’s okay to take a break or to give it up!

  • 25
    Dana October 25, 2013, 11:48 am

    Loved this post! I have also noticed that for me, running is something I can do (enjoyably) about once or twice a week. I run slow..but I take it all in- the air, how I’m feeling, my surroundings…sometimes it’s 5 miles and sometimes it’s 3.
    Jen, I know you as a yoga teacher with an awesome blog that mentions the words “Peanut Butter” lol…(you had me at Peanut Butter 🙂 And I can say this- you are an incredible yoga teacher and such an inspiration- Thank you for sharing. I have discovered that for me, a weekly balance of yoga, spin classes and running are what feel good ~

    • 26
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:45 am

      dana – thank you so much for the kind words!

      and i’m so glad you’ve found the balance that works best for you and your body. i love to read that you enjoy it for the entire experience of being outside and being with your body and what’s going on with you at that time.

  • 27
    Allie October 25, 2013, 2:36 pm

    I was in the same place as you about 6 months ago, starting to believe that running wasn’t for me anymore. My body was tired and achy all the time and mentally I was burnt out. So I, like you, started getting really serious about yoga – (Baptiste Power Vinyasa, to be specific) and decreased my runs to 1-3 times per week. Well, I guess I tend to be an all-or-nothing when it comes to exercise phases, and I think I yogad too much (90 minutes 5-6 days a week). To the point that my elbows, shoulders, and especially wrists began to feel arthritic. So, I decided to give it a rest, and picked up running again. Now running 6-7 days a week (i know) and loving almost every minute (especially in this weather!) but I have a feeling it won’t be long before I’m sick of it and back on my mat again.

    Do you ever feel aches and pains, or have students ever complain of joint pain/overuse pain from too much yoga? It seems like most people turn to yoga when they are injured or stiff but is it common for yoga to be the cause of injury? I really want to get back into it because my body feels so right when I’m yogaing, but even after a few months off, when I do a few sun salutations, crows, or full-wheels, I really feel it in my elbows and wrists again. Like they won’t heal!

    • 28
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:50 am

      that’s crazy allie! i really believe that too much too soon of anything is a recipe for injury. i’m surprised to hear that you are still having the pain even after a break. most of the time the wrist pain is due to too much weight bearing and also lack of mobility in the wrists. i would focus on working stretching your wrists and improving the mobility and also on strengthening the muscles around the wrist and elbow for better support. i would encourage you to find a mix between the running and the yoga. maybe run more like 4 times per week and yoga 1-2 and take a rest day.

      check this out: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/1247

  • 29
    Katherine October 25, 2013, 3:48 pm

    Balance is good! You’re such a good role model 🙂

    http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com

  • 30
    She Rocks Fitness October 25, 2013, 6:05 pm

    Girl sometimes we are seriously on the same wave length…I am actually thinking of taking a “fitness cleanse” this week and only doing yoga and walking. I think my body is tired of running, cycling, strength training, and just stress. I’m almost burnt out and feel that yoga is a great way to restart, recharge, and start November off on the right foot. Ah yoga bliss…

  • 32
    Rajul Parekh October 25, 2013, 7:50 pm

    Thank you for this article especially since I’ve only ran for 6 months with the furthest being 4 miles 🙂

  • 33
    Jake Long October 25, 2013, 8:25 pm

    I like the current outlook. I’ve never been one to love distance running but there have been times that I got into a good groove with it. The most I’ve done is back in high school wrestling where we would run 3 miles for 5 days a week. There are definitely benefits to distance running but I think that your current approach is much better. And to me it’s much more fun. The diversity of different workouts works great to fight off boredom.

    • 34
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:50 am

      totally more fun and keeps me so motivated. i definitely have a little exercise ADD!

  • 35
    Megan (The Lyons' Share) October 26, 2013, 6:43 am

    I’m a runner, but I relate to your statement – I’ve come to terms with the fact that my body has a natural limit of weekly mileage, and within the right range it’s 100% happy, but if I push too far, I can get injured quickly. So, even if I could hypothetically get better times by pushing towards more mileage, it’s just not worth it! I still LOVE running and can’t imagine giving it up, but I also totally agree that we go through cycles – so who knows what will come in the future!

    • 36
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:51 am

      megan – i think so much of it is figuring out your tolerance for how much your body can handle and working from there. so glad to read you’re figuring that out!

  • 37
    Brittany @ proteinandpumps October 26, 2013, 9:40 am

    I just wrote a post about why I don’t run long distance so u can so relate to this. It doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me sad when I see girls pushing their bodies through injuries and malnutrition just to reach a PR or certain look. Respecting your body is always best.

    • 38
      Jen October 28, 2013, 9:52 am

      i agree brittany, respecting your body AND enjoying your life and not being miserable/hurting/pushing through injury is so important.

  • 39
    tara October 29, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Wow i can sooo relate to this but you said it so well. I’m not a distance runner but have been running for ~ 4 years now. This year i just had a bad running summer. i have a lot of pain and am not progressing on my times at all. i just ran last night 4 miles and it took me 43 mins. my last race i felt so poor and did so poor afterwards i cried and said i was quitting ( i know quite mature of me). my boyfriend is a really good runner and i want to do it with him and see progress (i relate to being goal oriented) but i was telling him yesterday i just felt like everything hurt while running. my back, my hips, ankle, etc. and i was trying to explain that after 4 years why do i hurt so much at mile 2 ? He said everyone gets sore but i was trying to explain that it was more than that and i dont have to be the fastest girl out there but i don’t want to hate it so much. i want to semi enjoy it and not ache. he just sorta looked at me like i was crazy. maybe i will send your post because you say it so much better than me !!! I just hate to give up because i’m not good at it, but maybe i need to focus on what i am good at (yoga, boot camp, etc) because running is leaving me feeling like a loser who doesnt have the mental strength to push on. Luckily…i’m in Ohio so the upcoming winter will be a built in haitus for me as there is not much outdoor running from Nov – Apr. I’m trying to have a more healthy outlook on this situation but its hard. Its like i want to be the runner girl as i love the community and somehow there is so much prestige in being a “runner” (i know that sounds silly!) I grew up playing sports and pushing myself very hard which has served me well at times, but I believe i’m now seeing the negative effects of that type of thinking. Also…am i the only one that doesn’t want to give it up because it makes me feel old to say i can’t do it ? And the only thing i hate more than how bad i feel on my runs is feeling old 🙂

  • 40
    Carol January 29, 2014, 10:07 am

    I just googled “giving up running” and came to your blog. What a blessing! I have been running for about 10 years (some more than others), the normal “progression” — 5K’s 10K’s, progressively faster half marathons and 2 full Mary’s. Also got into triathlons…and had fun with sprint and OLY distances. But running was always the go to thing for me. I trained “better” than ever for that last full mary and was having BQ dreams, but limped to the finish with a stress fracture and lingering exhaustion. Rested, recovered, and tried gearing back up. This time it was piriformis syndrome. Rested and did some PT/deep tissue massage, but when I tried ramping up a little bit again, plantar fasciitis led to not only no running, but painful/very limited walking. So eleven months after that last marathon, I’m kind of at the same place you came to…that I just don’t think long distance running (at least the marathon distance) is good for me. I took some time completely off running, and honestly feel more calm and peaceful about life in general now. I don’t “have” to get my run in, though I would like to return to some level of it. Hope I can forge a path like you have that is right and balanced for me. Thanks for sharing your story!

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