It’s been over a year since I ran my last marathon. A year and a week or two. I ran a marathon in Paris, then ran a half-marathon a few months later, and then experienced a lot of foot pain. I continued running through pain (because running fixes everything). I could resemble a run with adrenaline and endorphins and stubborn determination, but I was lame if I tried to walk.
So my last run was in early September. I have given up being a junior meteorologist where I would check the weather daily to ensure I was prepped for any climate anomalies during my runs. I now operate in two zones only: wet in the pool, dry and stinky in the gym.
The weather is definitely spring where I live but I wouldn’t know it: cherry blossoms, breezy days, and sunshine. I barely go outside. I am either wet or dry.
Time is a strange progression. I recently heard that when we have established routines, or habits, our sense of time is warped and shrunk. The first month on a new job is exhilarating and tiring and overwhelming with so much new stimuli. But after five years in the same routine it’s hard to remember what you had for lunch the day before.
When I was first told to take time off from running, I thought it was to take a day off. A “miss one workout and see if you feel better” suggestion. I couldn’t remember the last time I had taken more than 4 days off in a row, let alone a week! It made me nervous, as though if I missed too many days I would forget what to do and my running “habit” would go off the rails. It was like that feeling of dreading New Year’s resolutions that you make and give yourself the obligatory two weeks to fail.
I worried about my fitness level, my sanity, and my running friendships. After the first few weeks though, I adjusted to this new measure of time: I got into a new routine. I knew I needed to replace running with something else (fitness) and give myself that me-time back (sanity). I still had my running coach, he now just also became my strength and swim coach.
I like being in the gym and doing strength work, I’m not such a big fan of swimming. Joining a group would have been ideal, but it didn’t fit with my schedule. I realized pool running (although in a group setting) was not only incredibly boring, there were also no measurable improvements I could gauge. The class I attended was full of high-intensity intervals where we were encouraged to give “100%” for the interval. It was hard to measure if my 100% had increased after 8 weeks of bobbing around in the deep end. I was tired after the workouts, but felt more drained than enjoying the satisfaction of an exhaustive accomplishment.
I have found ways to make the swims work for me. What I liked about running was that I could measure improvements (and not just that I could eat more before I felt full). Through this I found that measuring aspects of swimming made it more enjoyable and rewarding for me: increasing distances or measuring times helped me see that I had gotten more efficient.
I still like to think of myself as a runner (the clothes are so cute). I trust that my foot will heal. I am currently transitioning from an air cast/walking boot to regular footwear. But my perspectives have changed. I’d still like to run another marathon, but for now walking pain-free around the block would be nice. My swimming has improved and I am getting stronger in different ways than running would do. It will take as long as it takes, but I don’t have to stop myself to wait for it.