Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The End of Running?

Everything was going so well – I had some good workouts, build up to a decent long run, and I even ran a respectable warm-up race a couple weeks ago – so well that I barely blogged about it for fear of jinxing my fitness fast-track, as if by looking at it too closely, getting too excited (yay! look at me! uninjured and finally getting back into shape!) I might make it all go away. 

Well despite my best efforts, the alchemy didn’t align because go away it did. As of today, Wednesday, my hip flexor hurts and my pessimism is high. Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, the race I’ve been working toward, won’t be blossoming for me this year. 

You’d think by now I’d be used to this feeling – the punch-in-the-stomach failure that comes with the realization that I can’t run. The anger, frustration, and disappointment of knowing that my own body has betrayed me, and the even worse realization that all those emotions can be directed nowhere but inward, because no one did this to me but me. I can’t run

Are we meant to be? Me and running? This philandering fair-weather friend of mine? Or should I just stop now before I daydream up another castle in the sky only to have it collapse around me in a pile of running shoe rubble the very week before it actually matters? True, I would miss the runner’s high…but it might be worth it to be spared the runner’s low.

To serve as some explanation, this post was mostly composed in my head as I walked the two miles back from the track last night, a new never-to-be-worn racing shimmel in my hand, and my coach’s (reasonable but painful) criticisms echoing in my ears. “There will be other races,” people say. I feel like I’ve been telling myself that for years. But running is not a zero sum game…so maybe there won’t be. People do it, people lead happy productive lives and they don’t run. Is it a learnable skill? Is it a skill I want to learn? 

On a recent episode of 30 Rock, Jack asks Kenneth how he can stay so positive in the face of failure. The usually ruthlessly chipper Kenneth responds in a moment of serious intensity, “I lie to myself every morning when I wake up. I don’t know how much longer I can do it.” That is exactly how I feel about running right now. 

Thank you for bearing with me through this stream of self-loathing consciousness. Regularly scheduled happy blogging will resume tomorrow when I get over myself.


  1. I'm sorry, this really sucks, especially so close to race day.

    Is there any chance of having a PT take a look at it? Maybe some ART or something could clear it up before the race?

  2. I could have written this post about 3 dozen times over the past two years, so I totally get it, and it sucks HARD is the honest truth. And I'm sorry. Sending healing thoughts your way.

  3. I'm so sorry. :( Can you get a massage to see if it helps or is it something more? Ugh, you've been on fire, I know it will all pull together, but I completely understand your frustration!

    Hope it heals up quickly for you!

  4. If you figure out how to be happy without running, let me know?

  5. I'm so sorry...I can't think of anything else to say that won't sound trite. A few years ago I had to cut way back on my "exercise" routine because I had hip bursitis (at the ripe old age of 29). I was told that I had been running, yoga(ing), and Tae Boing my joints to death. (Of course I had a lot of body issues, ergo food issues, which didn't help...anything.) But it was thanks to that incident that I began a food blog.
    So I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes, even when one door closes, it's only so that we can look for another one to pry open somewhere else. (Who knew that someone with an eating disorder could run a dessert blog?) Life has an odd sense of humor sometimes. :)

  6. Wow. You're human. And not just some superwoman super accomplished blogging machine.

    I've been where you are. And I'll doubtless be there again, despite my best efforts. It's how it is. And whether it's worth it is in the end up to you, and there's no right or wrong answer (though I'd miss you).

    "People do it, people lead happy productive lives and they don’t run. Is it a learnable skill? Is it a skill I want to learn?"

    I think you already have that skill down, honestly, and you don't need to develop it. I know that when I stopped riding, it was EXTREMELY difficult for me because I was in my early 20s, but had no idea who I was if I wasn't the person dedicating every single fiber of her being to one thing. I had to do a lot of work to develop myself as a person (and wow, that sounds like psychobable, but I don't know how else to put it). But I really don't think you have the same issue. You're already grounded and well-rounded, with perspective.

    "True, I would miss the runner’s high…but it might be worth it to be spared the runner’s low."

    It's an individual call, but I can honestly say that in my case, the highs have always made the lows worth it. And I'd miss the heck out of you. Whom else can I bitch to at 5:15 in the morning?

    And...not to play the "there'll be other races" card, but there is a combo 5K/10M race in Waldorf two weeks after Cherry Blossom. I'm going down to run the 5K (George talked me out of the 10M), but can give you a ride if you want to use that as a back-up 10M race.

    1. I also find it amusing that when I post a reply in which I note that you're human, your blog challenges me to "Please prove you're not a robot"

  7. Hey Mollie, I'm sad, really sad, to hear your latest challenge. I only know from vast experiences of my own, which you don't need to hear, that you'll get through this. For your next comeback may I suggest you stay away from track repetitions for at least 3 months of running? Ask your coach about it, and I'll talk to you soon.

    Much Love, Dad

  8. This sucks. I'm sorry.

    I don't know you other than through your blog, so I'm not sure of your history and what you've done in the past, but perhaps before giving up on running altogether there's something else that you could change.

    For me, what I have opted for after dealing with various injuries, is to work toward a more natural barefoot-inspired running gait. I see a physiotherapist regularly who does manual therapy and gives me exercises to do. No orthotics despite my flat feet. I am transitioning toward minimalist shoes. I am fixing my form. I am reading a lot online such as the Natural Running Center. It is too soon to tell whether this approach will work but a few months in it is still going well. I am saying this is right for you, all I am saying is that when you keep having problems maybe it's time to try something you haven't tried before. Assuming that it's worth it to keep running, which it is for me.

    1. Oops. I am NOT saying this is right for you.

  9. We've all be there and it sucks. The questions about PT or a massage are good though - is that an option? I'm thinking of you, and will be happy to hit yoga, the pool or any other cross-training activity with you any day!

  10. Hang in there. I'm in the same boat as you and it is utterly and completely frustrating. But I believe in you, me, and everyone else in this lame boat. We've got this!

    PS- get it? "lame" boat. As in plain stupid but also as in disabled. Ha. Lame joke.

  11. Sorry to hear about the runner's low - keep your chin up! We love reading your thoughts on running, even if you aren't necessarily doing it. I have no doubt you'll find a way to be active and do things you love, no matter what!