The Gift of Running

I have a confession: since my injury, I avoided reading all of my Runner’s World magazines. I didn’t feel like a runner, and I sure as hell didn’t want to read about happy running, faster running, running shoes, and really, anything running related. I was bitter.

Since I have started to feel better and I am slowly adding cardio back into my life, I decided to pick up February’s magazine. I found a short article about surviving a break from the sport you love and coming back happier. I could resonate with every word she said (tried to find it online but can’t). She talked about being able to work through previous injuries and still do something while injured and how this one was really hard and different. She couldn’t run or do anything for months. Her clothes were too big because she’d lost weight and muscle. And then, when she could finally run, she came back happier. Her last paragraph really hit home.

So when I finally was cleared by my doctors to run again, it felt different. I found myself leaving my watch at home, slowing down whenever I wanted to, and sprinting just because. Running felt less like something to check off my tod-do list, and more like a privilege.

I was 100% the runner that sometimes forced a run because I had to hit X amount of miles for the week, or HAD to get that speed workout in even if I felt like crap that day, and NEEDED to see X:XX pace on my Garmin, etc. etc.

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This past week at PT made me appreciate the article even more. I saw a girl come in with an Atlanta Track Club Competitive Team shirt on (aka I’m a fast bad ass). We started talking and I quickly realized recognized her name. We are in the same age group and she is always at the top. She wins races, not just placing in my AG. She’s fast.

However, within a few minutes, I realized her attitude SUCKED. I have never heard more “I can’t” and “No” in my life. I was disgusted. As an elite athlete, you should know the power of the mind and working hard and pushing through. I’m no elite, but my attitude far outshines this girls. I don’t know if I have ever said those words in PT. Her injury (in my opinion) wasn’t nearly as bad as others in the room, yet she had the worst attitude and perspective. I’m now assuming that her talent is God-given and has nothing to do with hard work.

Both the article and the elite runner made me appreciate so many things. The PT episode made me realize I will not be defeated. I will not let a bad attitude get in my way and I will work hard to get what I want. I will also do my best to not be negative-she was a name I looked up to, and now when I see it, it will have a negative connotation.

The article made me reflect on how I want to be in the future and where I am right now. Honestly, when I could get on the elliptical for those short 10 minutes, I was THANKFUL. I have my legs, I have my health (for the most part), I can walk. Life could always be worse (see many things in the news today and have a reality check).

Running shouldn’t always be about how many PRs we can set and how many miles we ran that week. It shouldn’t feel like something we have to check off the to-do list. It’s most definitely not always going to go the way we want it to and it’s not always going to be perfect. It should, however, be recognized as a privilege. Will I never push for another PR or a hard workout? Of course I will! I already have goals running through my mind for when I can run again, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop to smell the roses. If it’s pretty out, I may stop mid run and just take it all in. I will definitely take more days without my Garmin. I will run for fun and not for time. I will run with friends, fast and slow. I will appreciate the gift I have been given, to run.

How often do you stop and really take in your run? 

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  • I’ve been re-discovering my love for running over the past few months and have really focused on this as well. I wasn’t out due to a specific injury, other than burn out and I realized how bad my overall attitude was. Great post!

  • This is just what I needed to read today! I fractured my distal fibula at a obstacle course race 10 days ago and have been in a funk. I don’t want to read blogs about fitness and running don’t want to look at magaizines fb pages etc. I know that in 5 weeks I will be back to getting some cardio in but it feels so far away. however I also know my injury could have been way way worse and i was very lucky but it don’t make it any easier.
    Hope that girl you saw in PT realizes she is being negative and starts to change her attitude. Glad you are getting back in to being able to work out and having time on the elliptical!

  • I love this!

    Flip side: I’ve had so many runs with social club, chit chat, run other people’s pace, it is challenging to get back at it and hit goal times. My friends are great, but this past week I took off in front of them for the first time ever and it was weird. Luckily, they understood I had goal paces to hit and they didn’t.

    You have such a great attitude, can’t wait to knock off a state or two with you soon!

  • Attitude is everything glad to hear you have a bright outlook on everything! Can’t wait to hit the FlyWheel with you when you are back to 100%.

  • Amen, sister! I have this perspective and I think some of it comes from being on the DL before, and some of it just comes from age/experience. I still chase PRs, but I can say I would be totally and completely content to just run if for some reason I couldn’t do any races. I love running, pure and simple. I’m glad you are jumping on that bandwagon–I think you WILL enjoy it all the more for that.

  • I love this. It’s weird, I’m definitely coming back stronger than I ever was before my injury and as soon as I say I’m feeling like I’m ready to relax on the paces and PRs, I see a “slow” run and it fuels me to go faster. Someday I’d like to be the runner that just goes out and runs.

  • I’ve been stopping to smell the roses more and more lately because honestly I can’t make myself care about PRs anymore. Been there done that, now I just want to enjoy it. So good to hear you’re on the comeback trail!

  • great post! i have to say, since my humbling calf injury during sea rnr in 2011, i’ve had a much more thankful attitude about running. the pf episode of last year, just reinforced it. now…i can’t wait to get back to it again later this year and certainly will continue to appreciate every minute i can be out there!

  • Amen! What a great post! Last year I realized that running was an additional stress in my life and with work I already had enough to worry. That’s why I put on the breaks and decided to run for fun this year, no PR’s, no speed workouts, just run with friends and when I feel like it. All my races were slow and I ran way less than I used to, but every single mile was a happy mile. really hope you can run soon again, your progress looks very promising!!

  • Yes! I’ve promised myself that I’m only running for fun for the next couple of weeks and not going to worry about the watch. It’s a drag to realize that occasionally you become a slave to something that is supposed to be bringing you happiness. But also, with injuries, you get to take an unwanted step back to help you realize that life/running isn’t just about the numbers. But the numbers can still be fun! They just shouldn’t be everything.

  • Loved reading this. I’ve found myself dealing with knee/IT band issues for the past few months and have battled between the “I can’t do anything about it and just need to work to get better” attitude and the “this is the worst thing in the world and I’ll never be able to run again” attitude. I’ve also stopped reading my Runner’s World and for awhile had stopped reading blogs. Running truly is a gift, one I can’t wait to get back. Looking forward to reading this article when I get home!

  • Well said Elizabeth! I’ve always felt that running is a privilege and when I think of the people that would do anything to be able to run another mile but never will it completely changes my mindset. Attitude counts for a lot especially when recovering from an injury and I know you’ve got your mind and your heart in the right place!

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