When you’ve been a long distance runner for nearly a decade and then you stop running, are you still a runner?
All week photos of me running the Lincoln Half-Marathon have been popping up in my Facebook memories.
The race is Sunday, and it’s the first time since 2009 that I’m not running.
The photos bring back a lot of good (and bad) memories from half-marathon training and race day. But the photos have also made me feel a little lost.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned running in the blog or on social media for quite some time. It’s because I haven’t been running.
The last race I ran was Bolder Boulder in May 2016 (and let’s be real, that’s not a race, it’s a fun run with beer and slip n’ slides).
I’ve been running only a few times since then. I can actually remember all of the times I’ve been running since last May. Running in Garden of the Gods was one of them.
During half-marathon training last year, I trained so much smarter and with more intention with the help of my running coach, Amanda from RunToTheFinish, my chiropractor, and my yin yoga teacher, Sarah. My diet was also better than it had ever been. I did everything right.
But something still felt off with my running. Short runs never got easier. My pace never improved. Regardless of the distance, my training runs felt more challenging than they ever had before. It was frustrating.
I got through training injury free, which was my top priority. But there was a part of me that hoped running would start to feel like it used to.
A few months after the half-marathon last year, I learned from my functional medicine doctor that I was deficient in a few vitamins that are directly linked to energy. I also learned that my hormones were all out of whack causing headaches, migraines and weight gain. (the weight gain was also most likely related to stress) You can read more about my functional medicine experience here.
Since then, I’ve been trying to be easy on myself and allow my body to come back into balance. I backed off from intense exercise and running because it just didn’t feel good. I started doing more yoga, taking Pilates classes and walking.
It was the first time that I ever truly listened to my body.
But the thing that was hardest for me was feeling like I was no longer a runner.
Being a runner had become part of my identity. I trained for a half-marathon every year for eight years. I had run 10 half-marathons and countless 5Ks and 10Ks.
But as soon as I stopped running, none of that seemed to count for anything.
I liked being known as a runner. I liked talking about my favorite running gear, training for races, all the weird embarrassing things that happen when you’re training for a long distance race, the best places to run, etc.
I also loved all of the running experiences that I had while running. The BF and I connected over running on our first date, trained for and ran seven half-marathons together, ran together on most of our vacations and would go running together every weekend. Running was a part of who we were as a couple.
We all go through this with different aspects of our lives. Maybe it’s when you get a new job or a relationship ends or you move to a new city or you decide to ditch your old unhealthy habits and create new healthier habits. Change requires us to create a shift in who we identify as.
Change is normal, and absolutely necessary for us to grow and evolve.
I don’t have the answer for making it easier. But I believe the first step is just accepting yourself for who you are and who you are becoming. And the second step is being easy on yourself during times of transition.
Has there been a time in your life when you felt like you lost your identity? Share in the comments below.
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