Once upon a time I was a runner. If I were an archeologist, I wouldn’t have to dig very deep to find the artifacts of my former runner self. They are peppered throughout my home. Look in the closet, any closet, and you will probably find a pair of running shoes casually discarded in there. Open up the garage and you’ll find not just one, but two jogging strollers, a single and a double. Glance at the book shelf in the entry way and you’ll see an entire row of dog eared books devoted to the topic of running. If you were bold enough to open up my underwear drawer, you’d find several old Garmin running watches, batteries dead on all of them, but all in working condition. Walk across the floor of the master bedroom and you’ll hear a faint jingle. Curious of the source, you’ll turn your head to find a bunch of medals adorning the sides of the dresser mirror. Each shiny one evidence of the many races I participated in and completed. Evidence of the runner I used to be is everywhere, and yet I don’t even notice it anymore. All of it so commonplace, taken for granted and easily forgotten.
Running was my life. If I wasn’t running, I was reading about it, or chatting about it on an online forum, or researching my next race event, or reviewing my training plan. It was an obsession. What started as a means of losing weight after the birth of my first child, turned into a passion that I couldn’t get enough of. I ran through all four seasons, through rain and snow, wind and extreme heat. I ran while pushing a jogging stroller and also without. I signed up for 10Ks, which snowballed into half marathons and eventually a full marathon. I ran when I was happy, when I was sad and when I was so angry I could have punched someone. I ran through three pregnancies right up until the week I gave birth. Running was a part of my identity. It was something I saw myself doing forever. And then one day I just quit.
It wasn’t that I planned to quit. There was no dramatic exit. No announcement that I was done. It wasn’t even a decision that I formally made in any capacity. I simply chose not to run one day, and then made the same decision the next day after that. Days turned into weeks and from there weeks turned into months, and the rest is history. The scary thing is that at first, I didn’t even realize I had quit. Life became incredibly busy. I now had four children who’s wants, and needs seemed to take up every spare second of the day. I hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep in years. I had a baby who hated the stroller, making it hard to get out. I was moving and busy with the organizing and packing that such a life change entails. I was overwhelmed by the excuses, that although valid, could all have been worked around if I’d really wanted to. Every now and then it would occur to me that it had been a long time since I had last run. Most of the time I was too busy to notice.
Eventually we finally moved. There was the initial flurry of activity as boxes were unpacked, furniture was shuffled and new routines were established. I kind of assumed that once the chaos melted away I would get right back to running. It had been long enough now that I had noticed the lack of mileage in my life. I had visions of all the new running routes I would try out, the trails I would explore and the goals that I would crush. I dreamed of running a half marathon trail race later in the summer. I was ready to dive right back in.
Except I didn’t. I just carried on doing nothing like the quitter I was. Then one day I was talking with a neighbour. We had only met recently. She made a comment about one of her friends who was a runner. This was the time I would usually interject that I too was a runner, proud to let people know and eager to perhaps scam a new running buddy out of the deal. But, the moment passed and I said nothing. I wondered why, and then it dawned on me. I no longer considered myself a runner. To utter those words “I am a runner.” would have suggested that I actually engaged in the act of running and I didn’t anymore. This bothered me for weeks until I finally came to the conclusion that there was no time like the present to make a change, to stage a return to running and reclaim ownership of the title “Runner”. I missed it. I missed it all, the endorphins, the wind in my hair, the sweaty satisfaction that comes at the end, the adrenaline rush and most of all the sense of accomplishment. So I made a vow to myself right then and there, that a comeback was in order. We all know the old adage, failing to plan is planning to fail, so I made a plan and I promised myself I would stick with it.
Here’s where you come in, if you’re a former runner like me, an accidental quitter or maybe even an on purpose one, we need each other. We all need support to get back on the wagon. It sure is easy to fall off, but the climb back up can be steep and discouraging. Or maybe you’re a beginner to running and have stumbled upon this cautionary tale. However you got here, I’m glad you’re here. Please join me as I take the first steps of many on the road back to running. We can take them together , motivate each other and maybe have a little fun along the way. Check back later in the week for my post on the first run back and how to find the motivation to lace up those shoes and just get out there!