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.
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.
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.
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!