I'm not really sure when running became a part of me. If I don't run for too long, I feel like a piece of me is missing. I feel like I can't breathe as well. I feel lost and sad, as if I lost a good friend. And this is what I've been struggling with lately.
It's no secret that I've been struggling with a hip injury. It's not so much my hip as I am certain it is my piriformis. It's extremely tight and knotted. I've been to the doctor and she told me to get a massage. Last spring, as I was training for a marathon, I was sidelined by some random knee thing that I am certain came around due to overcompensating with my left leg to take away from the pain in my right one.
I slowly increased my milage as soon as I returned home, but only to 20 miles a week. Coming from 60, 20 felt like absolutely nothing. I knew the marathon wasn't going to happen. I was devastated. I had trained hard. Obviously, I trained too hard. So hard, that my identity as "runner" had been stripped away from me. I volunteered at the marathon I was supposed to run and got a free entry into the 10k, which I ran.
I took a few rest days, then slowly began running again. I helped Karen mark her course and then helped out at registration and the finish line, but just stared at the runners in envy. I've helped at almost all of the club races since May, but have not raced since that 10k. Every single time, I feel like I need to be wearing a giant sign that says, "I SWEAR I run! I just hurt!"
In the middle of all of this, I met Z. He runs, but he doesn't identify as a runner. He helped me realize that most people don't even run 20 miles in their entire life, let alone in a week. It was also easy to use my hip as an excuse to not run as far or even take one or two days off to spend time with him. My milage dropped significantly, and I just didn't care as much as I had in the past.
Then Costa Rica happened. My milage dropped to zero. ZERO. For nine whole days, I did not run. Except four feet to pose for a picture. I still exercised daily. I did workout videos in the evening after it had cooled off. I biked around with my mom. But I didn't run. That was the longest stretch of not running that I had done since I began running 8 years ago. I struggled with it and probably bugged the crap out of my mom every time I said, "Remember when I used to run?" But I didn't really miss it. Was I losing my running identity? Was I going to run again when I got back, or was that a chapter of my life that was closed now? My hip was feeling better, I had tons of energy, and I was still being active.
I've gone about running completely differently since I've been back from my nine day hiatus. I run most of my runs slow (for me). I stop when I reach the milage I say I am going to run instead of going extra, just to go extra. I've felt great! This last week, I went for a 14 mile run in the mountains with my best running friends. I hadn't done double digits since June.
Thank you Karen for this beautiful picture!
I did speed work with Karen on Saturday and remembered that my legs CAN go fast if I want them to. Sometimes it feels good to go fast.
Thank you again, Karen!
Then I ran 10 miles on Sunday. I am finally feeling like my running identity is coming back to me. I feel more like myself than I have in months, and I know it's because I am feeling good about my running. I had no idea that running was such a part of me until I couldn't really do it anymore. I had no idea that running was such a part of me until I started running regularly again.
This weekend, I am going to try my hand at racing again. We will see how my hip holds up and if it starts to hurt, I will slow down. I don't want the running part of my identity stripped away again.