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Lover of all things fitness related?

In my last post I mentioned that over the past year my relationship with running has been a little tumultuous. This time last year, I was 12 weeks into training for the Thunder Road Marathon and found myself injured…again. I was sick of running injuries and sick of the heartache of training and not being able to meet my goals. I dropped down to the half marathon, PR’d and tossed aside my running shoes for the rest of the winter.

This was an extremely hard thing for me to do because I have always been so focused on running. Calling myself a runner was a huge part of my identity. It was hard to respond to questions about my running and what I was training for next with the answer of, “I don’t know. I’m taking a break from running.” Instead of pounding the pavement, I unrolled my yoga mat and got serious about my practice.

Most of you know this but I started going to yoga classes last fall in an effort to curtail the running injuries. Honestly, I was looking for an easy fix to what was a more complex problem and going to yoga once a week at the Y was definitely was not the magical solution to running injury-free.

I received a gift last Christmas for an unlimited month of yoga at Y2. It came at the perfect time. With the focus off of “run, run, run,” I was able to find a deep appreciation and love for yoga and how it made my body feel. Around the same time, I started teaching BodyPump at the Y a couple times a week. Months passed and I hardly thought of running – I did go for the occasional three-miler here when the desire struck but those were few and far between.

By the time spring rolled around, I felt ready to test the waters with running again. It was always a goal of mine to run a big city marathon so when Marine Corps Marathon registration opened in April, I signed up. The October 31 race seemed like forever away and I had plenty of time to prepare.

The months kept ticking by and I kept finding myself in the yoga studio on Saturday mornings instead of out on the road. I posted about needing to get started with base building for marathon training but I just didn’t really do it. Finally, I found myself 16 weeks out from the race and it was now or never. I posted my training plan and got to work.

I’m not going to lie. I didn’t love the first couple months of marathon training. It was the dead of summer, I was unmotivated and questioning if I’d just completely lost my “I’m a runner” status. But I plugged along. This blog is part of what kept me accountable to marathon training and sticking with it.

And then one day I realized that the old running me was back and stronger than ever. I felt confident telling people again, “I’m a runner. I’m training for the Marine Corps Marathon.” I enjoyed the last two months of training (minus the 2-week hamstring snafu) and couldn’t believe how excited I was about race day.

I LOVED running the Marine Corps Marathon and never doubted my decision to run it while I was out on the course (even when I slammed into the wall at mile 20! ;)). I thought that after the marathon I would really want to focus on yoga and teaching my classes but I’m already itching to get back out on the road.

Over the last year, I have really wavered on how to identify myself. For a while, I thought I might need to change the name of this blog to Peanut Butter Yogi because I was definitely talking more about yoga than anything else.

But today, without a doubt, I am 100% positively Peanut Butter Runner.

How do you identify yourself? And why? Or does it even matter to you?

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Claudie November 5, 2010, 6:07 pm

    Dear Jen, I’m so glad you are feeling enthusiastic and back into the “runner” mood.
    I believe that being aware of who you are is a crucial element of your life… without it, you just can’t reach peace! And when our “identities” let us down — such as when you had that running injury –it hits really, really hard.
    I didn’t dare call myself a runner before my first race (a half). I thought I didn’t deserve to until I proved I was capable of it. Then, I didn’t call myself a runner until my second half… I just wanted to be sure I’d be able to do it again. When I reached the third one, I was like: alright, I got that. Pretty good feeling. Of course, this is just one of the ways I define myself. I’m also a writer, a web designer, a philosopher, a wife, a friend. (Not necessarily in that order.) Every “me” completes the others to give exactly who I am and who I am proud to be.

    Thank you for inspiring us all 🙂

  • Josie November 5, 2010, 10:18 pm

    LOVE this post, Jen!! I have also been struggling with the “I’m a runner” status ever since I had a baby. My running has become more and more sporadic, and I really want to focus and reclaim my “label.” Your blog is definitely inspiring me to do so – Congrats again on your marathon!!

  • Josie November 5, 2010, 10:18 pm

    PS I think we wear the same running shoes!

    • Jen November 5, 2010, 10:20 pm

      Brooks Adrenaline? Love them – have been wearing them for at least 5 years!

  • Ashlee November 6, 2010, 12:40 am

    Your blog is inspiring. I sufferd a running injury (extreme it band flair up) during the Nike Women’s Marathon and basically cried after mile 16 hobbling in pain until the finish. I vowed that I will either finish a marathon like my first one – tired but proud or give them up. Your experience gives me hope. I feel that I have incorporated yoga and that makes a HUGE difference then thinking I had to run all the time! Thank you!!!

  • Rebecca November 6, 2010, 4:29 am

    A couple of weeks ago, I trained with a new trainer as my brother (who is my trainer) was on holidays, I was abit nervous, I was hoping she would think I was fit, could I do everything she wanted me to do, all these things went through my mind. At the end of the training, she looked me in the eye and said “it was a pleasure training you, you are an elite athlete”. I just stared at her and mumbled thanks, I have never thought of myself as an athlete let alone an elite one, but, the more I thought about it, the more I thought, yeah I am an athlete, I train hard 6 days a week, I am strong, I can run, sprint, lift weights, so I call myself an athlete, not elite, but I am an athlete.
    I love reading your blog, its inspiring to read about your training and your marathon journey.

  • lindsay November 6, 2010, 7:05 am

    A runner to me is someone who has the Passion and Joy for running. with the balance of yoga and proper training, it looks like you found your sweet spot. So amazing! I love that you are the peanutbutter runner. Can I be the sunfloweer seed butter runner? haha, jk!

    • Jen November 6, 2010, 11:33 am

      Lindsay – I just bought sunflower seed butter for the first time a couple months ago and I LOVE it. Yum!!!

  • Jen November 6, 2010, 8:18 am

    I love this! And three cheers for Brooks Adrenaline 🙂

    I think our self-definition changes with time. When I had my surgery and had to take time off running, I felt so lost. But now that my marathon is over, I’m eager to pursue other activities more- especially yoga 🙂

    • Jen November 6, 2010, 11:33 am

      Jen – I totally agree that self-definition changes over time and I also believe that there are SO many things that define us. I have just been feeling “lost” as a runner and have been encouraged the transformation of my mindset about running that marathon training provided to me this time around. Don’t get me wrong…I will still be spending LOTS of time in the yoga studio this winter! 🙂

  • Mari November 6, 2010, 10:55 am

    Hi! I’m new to your blog, and I LOVE it! I noticed you wear compression sleeves when running. Which brand do you prefer? I can’t read the brand in the pics. I’ve had a hard time finding compression sleeves that I like. Thanks for sharing this great blog!

    • Jen November 6, 2010, 11:30 am

      Hi Mari – thanks so much for reading!!! I just started wearing compression sleeves a few weeks before the marathon because I was having a lot of tightness in my calves and a friend suggested that I try them out. Honestly, I didn’t do a lot of shopping around. Just picked up the first pair I saw at a local running store. The brand is Cho-Pat but I would not recommend them – they have weird seams and are really thick. I saw some way cooler/sleeker/more seamless compression sleeves at the race expo last week. Please let me know if you do find some you like!

  • Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) November 6, 2010, 11:25 am

    To me, you’re all of the things you listed first, and more! I don’t think there is any one ‘label’ that identifies us- we are all so many things. I also struggled with calling myself a ‘runner’. When do you become one? Once you run x times a week, or have run a certain distance? I finally reached the conclusion that my definition of a ‘runner’ is someone who runs and enjoys it, no matter how often or how far. To me, it’s as simple as that 🙂
    You are amazing, Peanut Butter Runner, and this is a brilliant post! 😀

  • Jennifer@ knackfornutrition November 6, 2010, 7:27 pm

    Hi! I just found your blog and this was one hell of an introductory post! 🙂 Really great if you ask me. I finished my first 1/2 marathon last month and have fallen in love with the sport. I’m glad you found your mojo again!

  • Brittany (healthy slice) November 6, 2010, 7:38 pm

    Great post Jen! And you deserve to be very proud of your awesome success in running and yoga. You inspire me to stick with running because I would love to feel confident identifying myself as a runner!

  • Megan November 7, 2010, 6:27 am

    I LOVED this post!!! I read this post at the perfect time too! I just finished reflecting and blogging about rediscovering who I am in the running section of my blog.
    I ran competively in college and once I graduated, I struggled with my identity of no longer being a “collegiate runner.” At the end of my journey, I realized that I had crossed a line into being “obsessed” with running instead of being “in love” with running. It took an injury for me to discover and re-discover other parts of me besides “runner.” Today I can claim that I am a runner again and in a better place.

    Thank you for such a beautiful and honest post!

    P.S. Your marathon journey is such an inspiration! Keep up the runnin’! 🙂

  • Brittney November 7, 2010, 1:58 pm

    I know you’ve seen me go through my own blog identity crisis too! It’s hard to figure out how to label yourself as a blogger when things change in your life, but I have sort of made peace with the struggle and chosen to just keep doing what I’m doing. My blog might not be as much about the pilot wife/aviation part of my life as much as healthy living now, but I like that I have a slightly different and unique angle. I love your blog 🙂

  • Sydney Robyn May 26, 2011, 11:38 am

    I just stumbled across this old post, and I must say I find it really relevant to where I am with my physical persona right now. This is the first summer in 5 years that I will not be playing rugby. I am finishing my Master’s degree and will be moving over the summer, and so didn’t think I could commit the time, nor did I want to have to go through being a rookie again (I have been playing for 8 years through high school and university, after all). I really concerned about my fitness though, and my identity as a rugby player, which was something I always cherished. I also do yoga religiously, but I have been doing that for 2 years, in tandem with rugby, and I just feel like I need more. Reading this post was somewhat reassuring; just because right now I am drifting away from the sport I love, it doesn’t have to mean anything about my identity as a rugby player.

    Love your blog. Thanks for keeping me motivated.

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