So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what running means to me. I’m not training for anything. No races on my calendar right now. I’m lifting more, going to bootcamps, focussing on building a career as a personal trainer and running out of pure love. If I don’t feel like running, I don’t. If I feel like running, I go for it. Easy as that.
After the Dallas Marathon I shifted my focus to passing my NASM personal trainer exam. It’s no joke. As a stay at home mom of 3 it took a lot of my free time to study for that exam. I was still working out and running, but would easily pass up a workout for a chance to study.
Once I passed my exam, snow and ice hit, kids got sick, I got sick, Spring break happened etc. You know the drill. It’s life. However, I have found myself in a running rut and have been surprisingly ok with it. I’ve been working out differently. Circuit training, boot camp, high intensity and shorter duration. I’ve been focussed and enjoying a different style of training. I know how much it benefits me as a runner so I’ve been throwing myself into training with a different mindset. It’s not always about mileage.
With this new mindset has come some reflection as to why I’m so ok with shifting my focus for a while and not running as much. There was a time in my life when I would have felt like I was somehow failing because I wasn’t running a million miles a week. I’d throw myself into the longest runs I could handle…mostly out of pride. I liked the way it felt to tell people I ran 11 miles today. It made me feel valuable and like I had something someone else may not have. Dedication, passion, drive.
After a while, I realized what was happening. My identity was beginning to take deep root in the fact that I was a runner. It’s who I was. If I didn’t do it people wouldn’t think of me as a runner. If I “only” ran 3 miles I felt inferior to other runner’s around me running more. I didn’t even see it. It happened so slowly. I remember when I experienced my first real running injury. Achilles tendinitis. It crushed me. I cried and wallowed in self pity. I was embarrassed to go to the gym and not run. To say it was a wake up call is a drastic understatement. God was screaming at me to wake up. Take notice. You are NOT a runner. You are my kid. Your identity is in ME, not your abilities or hobbies. I love to run. It’s a passion and a hobby, but it’s not my identity. It’s not who I am deep down.
It was hard. I was absolutely devastated over the fact that I had allowed how many miles I ran and how many calories I burned or how many races I had run to define who I was. It was sad really. I had let my pride and insecurities take control and they began to drive my will to run, instead of doing it out of pure love of the sport.
7 years ago my dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain disorder called Multiple Systems Atrophy(MSA). It’s a degenerative disorder that was described as being something that would affect his balance, speech and swallow. It’s been more than we expected. My dad was a runner. My whole life he would come home from work, put on his running clothes and head out the front door. In fact, he was out for a run when he first started noticing some of his early symptoms. I started running just one year before he had to stop.
Part of me mourns that time I never got to spend with him out on a run. I would have loved to have been able to share that with him. However, watching him lose that ability has been sobering. It’s caused me to stop and consider what would happen if that were me? Would I lose my identity if I lost my ability to run?