What If I Don’t Run?

I don’t know about anyone else, but since I began running in 2014, I often wondered what would happen if I stopped running. What would I do? What would I talk about? It seemed foolish to even think of such a thing! Running became such an integral part of my life, my day-to-day, my weekly schedule, my emotions…running became just about everything to me. I was puzzled when people told me they “used to run.” How does anyone ever stop? Why would they want to do that?

I began running in 2014 after my daughter was born. I went from one mile, to a few more, to a lot more, all the way to a marathon this year. It was after that long race that I began to feel oh, I don’t know — different.

And then, life became more complicated — and here I am. Has it happened to me? Have I essentially “stopped running?”

I understand those people now. All of you who used to run? Girl (or boy), I feel you. I can see how this happens. Over the summer, running and I began to grow apart a bit. We were still on speaking terms, but I began to notice that running was not the epicenter of my life anymore. The motivation became less and less, and my drive felt weaker and weaker.

I kept trying to reboot myself in safe mode (judge me — my huzz works in technology, so I use these analogies all the time for life situations and to make poorly gauged sexual innuendos, and yes he hates it): “Maybe if I just run a few miles” or “maybe just a couple times a week” or “maybe I should just do what I feel and not be so strict about it.” I kept trying, as hard as I could, to hold on to the person I knew just a short time ago: One who is motivated, disciplined, and has the “no excuses” attitude.

The truth, though, is that sometimes those excuses we “refuse” to give into are freaking legitimate excuses. This brings me back to a post by my friend Jessica, and I’ve thought about it ever since: Sometimes excuses are real.

And man, did my excuses begin to pile up. When my daughter began kindergarten in a different state (she goes to school in PA, right over the OH line) and the only transportation is myself or my husband, things got rough. It seems great on paper: Wake up early; run; get the kid read; drop the kid off; go about my merry day. Except that isn’t how it goes, and every mother damn there knows it. It’s more like this: Plan to run in the morning, but fail to wake up because #sleep; attempt to wake up a child who does not want to get up; repeat the words “please eat your breakfast” nicely until it’s time to scream because EAT, NOW; get the baby ready and then change him again because #poop; forget to put makeup on; forget the laptop charger; forget the car needs gas…arrive to school just on time and feel like the day is shot. Oh, and then go to work as a teacher. Yup — that is more like it!

My excuses became sleep. Family. Baking. Teaching. Reading books. All of these things I didn’t do the last few years because I was so immersed in training. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty and somewhat like a failure. I built my Instagram account, and this blog, around running — and here I am not really running.

I’ve tried writing this post at least four times over the past few days, and every time, I fall short. I think that’s because I can’t fully grasp that running isn’t the only thing I look forward to anymore. Perhaps it wasn’t even healthy that running was the only thing I looked forward to. Running was my escape, and I don’t think I want to escape anymore.

I’m at a point where I’m not really improving my speed or decreasing my pace, but I don’t want to put in the work to get any faster. Then, I get bored running the same three miles at the same damn pace staring at the same spot on the wall. I have approximately one point in the day I can run, and it’s so early that I need to run on the treadmill. The view gets old.

So many times I catch myself thinking that I would love to just take walks and continue my home workouts in the mornings. For some reason, this is currently more appealing. I don’t know why, but it’s better than doing nothing — and that is exactly what started to happen. I did nothing. I’d set myself up for the same schedule every week, fail, and then try to force myself onto the treadmill by binge eating a loaf of bread and saying “SEE? Now you HAVE to run because you just ate enough carbs/cookies/whatever for the entire neighborhood.” Except guilting yourself into working out never works and only makes you feel worse and hate it more. So, yeah — I would do nothing and feel even worse.

The other day, I woke up in the morning, did a home workout, and took walks with my son. I filled the rings on my Apple watch, and I felt good about myself. I felt like I wanted to eat better, and I finally felt like a day like that defined “self care” which I have been unable to define for some time now.

And I truly admire those of you who I see up before 5 am with headlamps on at the track or running 10 miles. At this point, that isn’t me. I don’t want to get up and do that. I want to get up, workout for less than 30 minutes, and actually enjoy a cup of coffee. I don’t want to get on my treadmill at night; I want to read some of my favorite books. I want to be disciplined and healthy and accountable, but I don’t want to beat myself five days a week. It isn’t that I don’t have the time, it’s that for some reason, I keep choosing not to make it.

I get really anxious and stressed when my house is messy, so I like to clean up and night. My husband and I have really reconnected the past few months now that the kids are in a better routine and we have adjusted to school and activity schedules, and I enjoy sitting and talking to him. And I like sleep. I don’t want to get up at 5 a.m.; I just don’t.

I’m not looking for some kind of encouragement or validation; I’m really just talking out loud like lifestyle bloggers do.

I have the new Stephen King novel waiting for me at Barnes and Noble, and that’s my focus for tonight.

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