What I’ve learned from a period of not running.

by Elizabeth on September 30, 2013

Let’s start off with the nitty gritty. I’ve been running on average twice a week. Usually on weekends when the weather is nice and on a random weekday. I’ve allowed myself to do this simply because I DO enjoy running. When I told Joe that I had made the decision to take time off and not run at all he thought that was pretty black and white (which I do tend to be) so why not try to just be moderate with it and run every now and then. I love having a smart husband :-)

It’s been about a month and a half since I decided to take time off. I feel like I’ve gained a few little golden knowledge nuggets that I want to share with you. As you know, time off is a HUGE deal for me. I started running in fourth grade and have been ever since. Whether it was for high school, college, cross country, track, off-season, or simply pushing my stroller through the neighborhood, you knew where to find me on a daily basis. I did it rain or shine and it got to the point where even taking one day off was virtually impossible for me (barring hospitalizations… if you want to be instantly committed to the psych ward, I imagine doing laps with your IV pole would do it, clearly I didn’t think about this or anything). ANYWAY, back to those valuable lessons I was going to share with you. Hopefully you can take a few to heart or apply them to your life in some way. Everyone struggles in some way or another!

1. We ALL deserve a break. I realize now how hard I was being on my body for so many years. Yes, running is good, wonderful, and healthy… but not to the extreme I went. I want my body to continue to function at a high level for decades to come and this requires giving it a rest period.

2. Running should be a choice rather than an obligation. I used to consider getting in my run an essential part of my day similarly to breathing, eating, or sleeping. Oh there’s a tornado coming? I’ll run faster. I have a fever? I’m sure there is some benefit to running right now… You think I am kidding but I’m not. Having time off allowed my mind to put some space between me and running. I don’t HAVE to do it anymore. I can choose to do it if and when I want to and that, my friends, is a feeling so great there are no words to express it.

3. I love walking. It’s easy. It’s enjoyable in the moment. I can wash my hair even less than I did before. There are way more people out there who are willing to go on a walk with you than a run. Danica wrote a great post on the benefits of walking.

4. Running is much more fun when you haven’t already put in 50+ miles that week.

5. I have discovered additional ways to cope with stress… Such as acupuncture, yoga, massage, and meditation. 

6. I have more time to spend doing everything else. Life doesn’t revolve around getting a run in. I can make more elaborate breakfasts on Sundays since there’s more time. I do more arts and crafts. I have extra energy to hang out with friends… the list goes on and on :-)

I fully intend to still be a runner in the future. What will be different is the number that it is on my priority list. Nothing should ever become such a huge part of your life that you can’t give it up. It kind of goes with the whole “not being attached to worldly things,” and “everything in moderation” sayings. I can honestly say I am extremely proud of myself for choosing to do this and sticking with it! So, I wrote about running, but really anything can creep up too high on a person’s priority list. After all, we are HUMAN and not God. Dang it. So this could apply to any kind of exercise, sports, money, food, a job, a relationship, you name it. I encourage you to try bring things back into balance if you feel like something’s shifted in your life and you aren’t proud of it. We all do it, and it’s simply an opportunity to practice bringing things back into moderation. 

Have a great Monday.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nelly September 30, 2013 at 7:14 am

Glad you can run again in moderation!!!
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2 Kira @ cyclingthrough.com September 30, 2013 at 7:44 am

Great post! And a good reminder that there are many things in life that can sneak up on our priority lists that truly shouldn’t hold so much value. Like dreaming of home decor way more than is healthy :)

Happy to hear you can still enjoy the things you love!!
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3 Jojo @ RunFastEatLots September 30, 2013 at 7:53 am

That’s great that you are finding moderation with running. When running becomes an obligation, that’s when all the fun is sucked out of it. Do it because it makes you happy!
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4 Amy @ Long Drive Journey September 30, 2013 at 7:57 am

I love this. I’ve never thought of running in moderation, but I think you are completely right. It is as easy to get obsessed with exercise or running as much as anything else. Glad you’ve gotten some perspective! Thanks for sharing!

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5 Danica @ It's Progression September 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

I had a huge smile on my face while reading this post – so proud of you for taking a step back AND learning so much!! Thank you so much for sharing this with us <3
(also, thanks for sharing a link to my post about walking!)
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6 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries September 30, 2013 at 8:47 am

Proud of you. :) It’s important to know yourself through it all. I can be a very “black and white” person too, but I also know that when I cut running out, I needed to cut it out entirely because I know that even if I let myself do a couple runs a week that I’d be more tempted to run harder, faster, and longer than I should. Keep up the great work!
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7 Jordan September 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

Liz,

Great Job on the post. And even greater job on your life. I appreciate how intentional you are trying to be.

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8 Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

Great post, lady! I took an extended break from exercise as well, and it was only by stepping back that I was able to see how much I depended on it and eventually overcome the addiction I had to it. Being active is great, but not when your whole life revolves around it and other areas get thrown way out of balance. Glad to hear that you’re doing so much better :)
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9 Lauren September 30, 2013 at 9:36 am

I was forced to take a long hiatus away from running after my surgeries and I learned A LOT throughout this time period, too. It’s amazing how much you depend on a hobby to bring you happiness and joy every day. You forget it’s a hobby and meant to be for pure enjoyment rather than feeling the NEED to do it. I can’t believe how much I beat my body up throughout the years without even realizing it, but I guess the important thing is I finally did realize it. <3 Proud of you!
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10 Erin @ An Inside Job September 30, 2013 at 9:39 am

Thanks for this post; I have found the same thing in my experience.

I have a bad habit of pushing myself too far and often to the point of injury, so being able to take a break and not obsess about things is nice. I have scaled my running back a lot (especially since I hurt myself a few months ago) and I have wound up with a more well rounded exercise routine that my body seems to like a lot more :)

Glad you were able to make this realization too and I hope that everything continues to work out for you!
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11 Amy @ Run Mom Run September 30, 2013 at 9:52 am

I often find myself “needing” to run and not “wanting to run”. I think a little distance sometimes presses the reset button for us and allows us to start over fresh.
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12 Stephanie September 30, 2013 at 10:30 am

This is totally awesome! Good for you. I have taken many breaks in my running career. Not always because I have wanted to but they have always seemed to really benefit me and you learn that there is more to you then just running. it can be easy to lose sight of that sometimes.
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13 Laura @ RunningJunkie September 30, 2013 at 11:14 am

I totally agree with you. I am also taking a running break (although I don’t run as much as you! lol) and it feels much better than I thought. I’m still running, just 2-3x a week, and only 3-4 miles max. I was tired of being injured. It’s really nice to have the extra time. I love being able to sleep in and wake up naturally, and spend some time with my family!
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14 Debbie @ DebRuns September 30, 2013 at 3:01 pm

It sounds like this is allowing you to enjoy running, but not as a chore now. You are spot on in saying that it’s a lot easier to find walking friends than running friends!
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15 Heidi Eichman September 30, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Wow, I thought it was just me. I started a blog this summer because I wanted to pair back on running, I also ran in college and have run everyday post. Rain or shine, hail, pregnant, sick, bored, injured… it was just what I did. I started CrossFit this summer and it has changed my life. I still run but, about 1/2 the mileage- and I have started to run races again but focus on speed rather than long distance…to be honest I am still struggling with the change. My blog is called comfortshoos because my intent is to get out of my comfortable running shoes and comfort zone and try some other types of fitness related activity.
Good Work sticking with your plan and seeing the rewarding aspects. :-).
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16 Alyssa @ See This Girl Run October 1, 2013 at 12:25 am

I love the things you’ve learned and your awareness!! Also I’m glad you’re still running a little bit :) It just seemed wrong that you weren’t running at all haha!
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17 Kelly - IRUNLIKEAGIRL October 1, 2013 at 8:41 am

Great post. I have had some similar thoughts lately as I am going through an injury right now. Like you, I have been running rain/shine/hurricane since I was young. It’s been TOUGH but I also must admit the extra energy and dose of perspective has been a healthy change for me. xo
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18 Katie October 3, 2013 at 7:16 am

I’m in recovery and seeing this post is really helpful and gives me hope and inspires me to practice moderation with exercise and in life. Thank you :)

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19 Nicole @thegirlwhoraneverywhere.com October 3, 2013 at 7:21 am

This is a great post! It is SO true that we runners can get out of control with our LOVE of it and it can form into an obsession! I will definitely take this to heart!

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20 Jaclyn @ Grateful Mountain Mumma October 3, 2013 at 8:55 am

Thank you so much for sharing this–I could relate on every front! I took a TWO YEAR break from running in order to conceive my son who is now 10 months old (I suffered from overexercise/undereating induced hypothalamic amenorrhea and had to gain weight, reduce exercise in order to ovulate and conceive). It was SO hard to do! One of the hardest things ever and at the time, I was so upset. Now, I am thankful. It taught me to reach for many alternative coping skills and also to figure out why I run. I am just getting back into it (very slowly) and enjoying it thoroughly without all of the pressure I used to have.

Thanks again for a great post!
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21 jenn @ runnderlust October 3, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I felt the same way as you last year. I have been running since I was 5 or 6 and have always loved in. Ran in high school, ran in college. I’ve tried to stick with it after graduating but it was really hard without a team and a coach. Running (and everything that comes with running well like nutrition and sleep) were obligations and I really didn’t enjoy what I was doing anymore and began to resent running. After taking 5 months off, I’ve found my love again. I have a new perspective. I don’t take it for granted. I also don’t take it as seriously. I coach high school now and I love it and I love that I can appreciate running from a new, fresh perspective. Thanks for sharing your “nuggets” :)
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22 Miss Polkadot October 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Thank you for the reminder! I’ve had to take month-long injury-induced breaks from running before that made me realize many of the same points. It’s definitely a lot more enjoyable to work out again after some more rest. Something else I’ve found is that it makes socializing easier because there isn’t the “need” to fit in a run at a certain time.
It’s still a bit hard for me to not rely too much on running at times but I’ll take a leaf from your book and continue to work on it.
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