January 13, 2017

My Year of Not Running

Hello, my name is Kim and I'm a reformed compulsive exerciser. It's been one year since my last run. You may know me by the infamous expression, Go HAM. And Go HAM I did. Until I didn't.

I slept in today until 7:00am, and woke up without the need to look outside to see if it was raining/snowing, check my phone for the current temperature, or spend ten minutes deciding how many layers to put on to be outside for 30-60-120 minutes. Is it a holiday? Am I on vacation? No, friends. It is a Friday in my post-running world.

I started running by accident in 2009. I signed up for a charity 5K and surprised myself by running most of it. I ran on my own for a few months to make sure my body could do it, that it wasn't a time-limited offer from my joints, and then I joined a couple of running groups and started running. In five years, I completed 7 half marathons, 10 triathlons, and 1 Half Ironman.

The mark of a true runner is how much money they've spent on physical therapy. I was in physical therapy off and on from 2010 to 2014. First for my left hip, then my left ankle, then my left knee, then my right knee, then my shoulder, then back to my knees. I also paid for x-rays, cortisone shots, prescription anti-inflammatories, sticks, foam rollers, an orthopedic sports doctor, a rheumatoid arthritis specialist, acupuncture, shoe inserts, ankle and knee braces, and kinetic tape. Let's just say if what I spent on being an injured runner were a car, it would not be a seven year old, manual transmission Toyota Camry with no hubcaps.

You might be wondering, is she made of glass? Did she not receive enough calcium as a child? No, my bones are fine, all of my injuries were due to overuse. In fact, this is tame compared to what most long distance runners go through. You see, I never made it past half marathon level. There is another echelon of injuries and physical therapy for those who run full and ultra marathons. If you're reading this and you're in high school, or early college, become a physical therapist. You will always have a job.

Around this time last year, I got up at 4:45am, looked outside to see if it was raining/snowing, checked my phone for the current temperature, spent ten minutes deciding how many layers to put on to do a 40 minute run, then got in my car and drove to one of my weekly group runs. My heart wasn't in it, so when my knee gave out a mile into the run, I called it, I was done with this sport.

In early fall, when the weather changed, I missed running for the first time. There's nothing like the first cool run of the year after a long, hot, southern summer. Luckily, I'm not the only one in my friend group who quit running, so I called on my fellow non-runners and we started hiking. That scratched the itch and the running bug went back into hibernation.

I did it. I went one whole year without running. God knows what I've saved on race registration fees. I'm hoping quitting running is like quitting smoking, that for every year you don't run, you gain ten years on your knees' lives.

I didn't realize how much pain I was in until the pain wasn't there anymore. One day it was just gone and I realized, 'Holy shit, I have been in pain for six years!'. I live in a sixties era, split level house, with full and half flights of stairs everywhere. Basically, I live in the house in Labyrinth. For six years, I've been hobbling up and down these stairs, usually going down them sideways. Not anymore! It is glorious.

I didn't quit running to replace it with something else. I quit because it was something I was wearing that didn't fit anymore, so I took it off. I finally had the space to think about what I wanted to do. Turns out, I wanted to twerk. So now I twerk, hike, walk, ride my bike, and ride a cardio machine at the gym when I feel like it. My body is different than it was when I was running, but I'm okay with that. None of the things I want in life are related to my physical fitness. It's time to give my body a break and focus on my voice, creativity and writing. It just fits.

P.S. If you're interested in my thoughts leading up this post, read Diet Industry Drop-Out.

P.P.S. An embarrassing look at where I was at a year ago Eff You, January Body.

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