Making Running Fun Again

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It’s no secret that I don’t write about running nearly as much as I used to. I also don’t run nearly as much as I used to. There’s been a variety of reasons for that in recent years: I had back surgery that ultimately led me to give up marathons, I’ve struggled with stomach problems when it seems like training is going well, and I’ve dealt with being overprogrammed and over-worked (by my own fault and admission). It’s been a long time since running has truly been a joy for me.

I’ve thought a lot about why running has felt like a chore. I don’t think it’s a simple question to answer, as there have been many reasons that have made it harder than it used to be. But for several months before I left for Nepal, I was extremely overwhelmed by work and commitments, as I documented here on the blog. I wasn’t running. I was doing whatever I could to get out the door for a walk, or teach my barre classes without a panic attack, but running was not a priority.

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The only kind of running I did for a while.

I don’t know when it was or what made me think of it,  but one day, I had a flashback and remembered what my life used to be like when I started this blog (over five years ago! I missed the anniversary when I was in Nepal, oops). At the time, I was running for at least an hour almost every day of the week and a long run on the weekends. And while that was at least somewhat motivated by my eating disorder and trying to heal from my divorce, the main takeaway was that running was the best part of my day. I relished getting out there. I wasn’t always trying to get faster, or necessarily trying to get faster at all. I just ran because I loved it and because I wanted to. Of course, I had far fewer obligations on my time (AJ and I met about a month after I started this blog, so he’s been there pretty much from the start, but we lived an hour apart for the first 9 months we dated), but still. I loved running.

Running felt fun back then because it didn’t feel like a chore. It wasn’t something I had to do, it was something I wanted to do. I didn’t have so many constraints on my time that taking an hour to run was terrifying and overwhelming. It was an important part of my day that I scheduled and prioritized. There were no excuses not to run, but I didn’t try to make them anyway because I didn’t want to!

When I compare my life then and now, the biggest difference besides the elimination of a lot of my personal issues is that I had a lot more free time back then. It felt like I didn’t, but I did. And that made me think about everything else. I miss having free time. I miss wanting to run. I miss not being quite so addicted to success and achievement. I miss focusing on just one job. I miss blogging because I had something I wanted to say, not because I felt like I had to (although that has gotten better this year). So I thought – what is the best answer to all of those problems? What can I do to change my situation, since I have brought all of this on myself? The answer is to cut back on the obligations I have that are eating away at my free time so that I can focus on the things that are most important to me: my husband, my (growing) career, and my sanity.

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AJ to me, literally every day.

To be honest, it’s been really, really hard. There have been a lot of tears, more than one panic attack, and a sleepless night or two. I hate feeling like I’m letting people down, and I don’t like saying no. But in the midst of all of that self-inflicted emotional turmoil, there’s also been a lot of relief. There’s been a sense of a weight lifted off of my shoulders. There’s been a recommitment to the things I declared to be my priorities and a renewed willingness to focus. It’s a good feeling.

And without even really thinking about it or consciously making much of an effort, I’ve felt my desire to run gradually coming back. I’ve gone out 3-4 times per week since coming back from Nepal, even though my time constraints haven’t actually changed yet. I just feel like everything will be ok now, and like running (or anything that isn’t a paid gig) isn’t a “waste” of my time anymore. It’s something I can do if I want to, so I actually do want to. Funny how that works.

I’m not doing long runs yet (that will make this year’s Route 66 Half Marathon interesting), but I’m feeling strong and refreshed. I don’t know yet what goals I will set for next year, or if I’ll set any. Right now, I’d love to get back to the point of being excited about running for an hour 3-4 days a week! That’s happening slowly but surely, and I’m feeling so grateful. It hasn’t been easy to reprioritize, but I think it will be worth it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go for a run – because I want to.

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11 thoughts on “Making Running Fun Again

    1. I hear you! Lifting has always felt like a chore to me. Barre is the first form of cross training I’ve actually enjoyed!

  1. Of course this year’s Route 66 will be interesting – I’m bringing my youngest brother so he can see what it’s like! This will be our 5 th Half together – its become a tradition! You can hang with us slow kids!

    1. I’m so sorry I didn’t get to see you this year, John! We’ll have to make a better effort next year 🙂

  2. Running for fun is the only type of running I know how to do! 🙂 haha – yeah, that really isn’t completely true, but it might as well be. Suz mentions lifting as a chore – I am always trying to do more bodyweight, but instead made my morning runs longer, then when I get home I am pressed for time … oops!

    At the same time I have empathy for you – running through most of the late 90s and 2000s was a struggle, because we had two babies/little kids, a house to deal with, very demanding job, at the time an hour long commute in the Boston area, and trying to make sure there was time put into our marriage. Whew! I still did my pre-dawn runs, but it is easy to look back and see how I would occasionally ‘fall off the wagon’ and then need to restart.

    Also, I truly believe there is a natural ebb and flow to everything, and while I have been running for nearly 28 years, my interest, attention and commitment has certainly not always been like it has these last 5 years.

    And to be honest it is one of the reasons I stopped blogging and cut out ~90% of my blog reading/commenting (I still read a decent amount but very rarely comment … sadly you still get subjected to my verbal diarrhea 🙂 ). There are only so many hours in the day, and it is impossible to successfully be all things to all people including yourself.

    So you have to prioritize – and the second you feel compelled to put things like ‘1a. 1b’ … smack yourself on the knuckles with a ruler! That is what I did – my priorities are marriage and family, job, my own health (of which relaxation and leisure are legitimately important things), personal and professional enrichment (never stop learning!)and so on. Other stuff needed to drop back – so working on my own music gets less attention, as does playing computer games, working on programming languages, and blogging. I’m sure I could do some of that rather than sitting under a blanket with Lisa watching a bad Lifetime movie … but why?

    Anyway, I am happy that you are running, and that you are enjoying it again! That is really what matters … and what I say to people. I have people say “I wish I could be so dedicated to running, I like to do other stuff …”. and I say, well DO that other stuff! Do what makes YOU feel good, like your Barre classes, or anything!

    1. I think you’re absolutely right that there is a natural ebb and flow to things, and I try to remember that. I was brought up to believe that it was bad to be a “quitter” and that the saying “it’s just a phase” was a bad thing, but our goals and interests are ever-changing. I sometimes put pressure on myself to keep up my intensity level at various activities, but that’s not always realistic. I haven’t been great about prioritizing the “right” things and I want that to change. I’m excited to be finding the joy again!

  3. I love that you are doing something for you and going back to something that you love almost as much as AJ 🙂 A while back I had that love/hate relationship with running and then I found an app and my whole attitude towards running changed. I now actually enjoy getting out there and following my weekly schedule that I put together. I don’t know if you run with your phone or not but check out an app called Aaptiv, you can start with a free 7 day trial, it might change the way you think towards running. If you want more info email me 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kendra! I might have to check that out! I have not really been successful using running apps, but maybe I just haven’t found the right one. I really miss running with a group and I need to get off my butt and just find one. I’m so glad you found the joy in running again!

      1. You are most welcome Danielle!!! I hope you do give it a try and I also hope you enjoy it. It is the first app that I have used that makes sense when running…if that makes sense 🙂

  4. Ha, I finally caught up with you! I stumbled onto your blog, but didn’t want to start reading halfway (fomo?), so I started with the very first post. Now, almost a year later I finally caught up with you. And I must say you have kept me interested and longing for more all throughout that year. Mostly because of your funny, witty writing style, but maybe even more because of your honesty.
    Although it sometimes seems superhuman what you have accomplished during the years (all the marathons, the surgeries, the social life, the changes in the ed-thinking and the careers), your honesty about the struggles during all of this made you more of a ‘real’ person. (If that makes any sense?) Your never-ending quest to make your life healthier (whatever that means at the time) and more interesting is imo inspiring.
    Today I decided to no longer keep lurking in the shadows, but to comment, even if only to say thank you for all the laughs and interesting reads. (Hopefully my response is comprehensible, since English is certainly not my first language). So thanks Danielle! I really hope you find the joy in running again, otherwise it’s just another chore…

    1. This is probably the nicest comment I have ever received. Thank you so much!! Every once in a while, someone will tell me that they have read every one of my blog posts from the beginning, and it is so humbling. I am so glad you stuck with me thus far! You have really read the story of my life and I have shared the good, the bad, and the ugly here. Your comment means so much to me, and I hope you will continue to comment on my posts! Your English is amazing, by the way. I can’t thank you enough – your comment reached me on a rough day when I needed the pick me up. Thank you for the smile and support!

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