July 16, 2014

Day 45: When to Break Up with Running

my relationship with Running, in a picture
When I crossed the finish line at the Grand Rapids Marathon last October, I was spent.  Physically and mentally. My hamstring, and with it my soul, were snapped. I was heartbroken about the injury but a small part of me was kind of relieved: I was physically forced into taking a break.

My injury healed pretty quickly and in plenty of time to start training for the 2014 Boston Marathon, but I was still tired.

Even though I had already registered, I could have just said, "Nah, no thanks, more break for me."  But I guess I take my commitment to races as seriously as I'm sure I'll one day take my future marriage: I already spent all this money damn it, so we're going to do this and we're going to like it.

And I did force myself to do it, but I sure didn't like it.  During my three months of training, I alternated doing my weekly long runs outside in the literally record-breakingly devastating Chicago winter and on the treadmill, because I couldn't decide which one was more miserable.

I lost a part of my soul doing a 15 mile run on the treadmill that winter, a part I will never get back.

So as amazing as Boston was, after the race I told Running I was done.  It was one of those messy "it's not me, it's you, you're abusive and don't really smell that good" kind of breakups.

And without a look back, I jumped straight into seeing other people: an oddly shaped guy named Elliptical, a real brute called Burpee (who I think may have actually been a sadist).  I even got really wild a few times and went out with a whole group of guys who called themselves the Kettlebells.  They told me they were swingers.

I actually thought I was over Running, and I guess I kind of was.  Elliptical loved talking about sports every morning (if I plugged my headphones in) and Burpee told me I had a great butt.  Who needed Running?

But over the past week or two, I started noticing some unnerving signs.  I'd see someone post on Facebook about their long run and I'd think, "God, that sounds awful.  I wish that was me."  Or I'd see some poor soul struggling up a 30% grade hill and think, "I could go faster."  But like any emotionally suppressive young adult, I ignored my feelings.

Until yesterday that is, when I cracked.

The night before, while talking to my friend Emily from Chicago, I admitted that I hadn't been running.  I had all the typical excuses: "It's just not what I want."  "I don't want to force it."  "Elliptical's such a sweet guy."  But even as I said it, I knew: Elliptical is actually a huge weenie, and he never made me feel half as good as Running did.

So yesterday morning, I let go of all my pride and told Running I want him back.

We're taking things slowly, ol' R and I, because I'm not sure if I'm ready to let Burpee and the Kettlebells go. Burpee and I have one hell of a time together, after all.

But now I realize that Running is never going anywhere.  That whether I hate Running or love Running is completely irrelevant; I will always love Running whether I like it or not.

I know that may not make sense but if you've ever been in a relationship with him, I know you'll understand.