Did you win?
It’s the first question my daughters ask me after every race. They both know the answer. I’ve never won a race and I’m not racing to win—at least not in the traditional sense.
I’ve been running road races their entire lives. My first marathon was nine months after my eldest was born and that was 14 years ago. Having a mom who gets up to train in the predawn hours is their normal. When they were much younger they had no real concept.
All they knew was that their mom was a runner.
Looking at them, I can’t help but think of my younger self. If she only knew how much she’d be pounding the pavement through her 30s, 40s and now—on the verge of 50—she’d be laughing in disbelief.
Lately, I’ve had my share of disbelief. Life continues to take unexpected turns, as it does. I’m finding myself forced onto new paths, navigating unmarked trails, trying to find my footing while keeping myself upright. Frankly, I’m dog tired. I’m also tired of being tired.
Running is my constant in all the chaos.
When all is going amuck—nearly three years deep—this sport gives me strength, calms my mind and all around keeps me moving forward.
So what’s the deal?
Lately, I haven’t felt like running. When I do, my feet and legs feel heavy. In my mind, there’s no rational reason for this weighty sensation I’ve been desperately—albeit unsuccessfully—trying to shake off.
Is this normal? For me, it feels like a lame excuse and not a real reason to stop.
Right or wrong, instinctively (I’m a runner): I keep going.
Even when all signs say I should probably pull back, I push forward. Often harder than I should.
It’s exactly what landed me with an embarrassing list of unresolved injuries, including a torn hamstring, and heel pain that comes and goes depending on the level of stress and strain it’s under. Needless to say, it takes me a while to learn from the past. And so lately, rather than pushing forward, I’ve tried to ease off a little and give myself a moment to breathe.
As someone who uses running as an energy source, and has for decades, taking the easy route hasn’t been easy. But even I can’t deny it has been the right thing to do.
As I head deeper into spring training, I’m gradually finding my way. Add in the longer days, more rest days, and sunshine warming the pavement, and I may even be shaking my funk. Or at least that’s my hope. For now, I’ll keep going out there, in search of that burst of energy—even if it’s not quite what I expect to find. Is this a sign of what’s to come? Am I well past my peak?
That’s the thing with this sport we all love: you have to learn to accept what we get, learn to adjust, and keep finding new avenues of joy. Running, as in life, despite all planning can take unexpected turns. Look at Kipchoge. Look at Natasha Wodak. Eventually, change comes for us all. However, if you’re kind to yourself, when you take a moment and put it all in perspective—you’re likely exactly where you need to be.
It’s OK to not feel like running. OK to be hurt. OK to be tired.
Right now, running isn’t what I’d like it to be, and I’m not where I want to be, and this is alright—for now.
It wasn’t always this way, and it’s not always going to be either. Running is shifting, alive, and it just may surprise you how well you’ll navigate its twists and turns, even if (you think) you’re not up for the challenge. Take a pause. Breathe.
As my daughters head into their teen aged years, I’d like to think that seeing their mom consistently getting out the door continues to encouraged them in their own athletic pursuits. Put the screens down. On days when I might not be so inclined, reminding myself of all the reasons to keep pushing forward, and that every day with a run—no matter how good or bad it feels—will always be my normal.
I’m not going to stop. I trust myself and the process. I consider it a privilege to run.
Anna Lee Boschetto is a regular iRun contributor covering fitness, travel, food and nutrition.
I can so relate to this
I applaud your efforts to go against the grain and ease up a bit. I am sure you have ensured all is well medically because while sometimes being tired is a symptom of overdoing it; sometimes it is a symptom of something else. I too was a runner and had fatigue and heavy legs. Running became so difficult but I kept on pushing while having to reduce my speed and distance. Turns out, I have MS. Running is still terribly hard but I keep at it for all the reasons we all run!
I am 67 years old and have always strived to keep my 3 runs a week in. My longer runs were 10-12k, but after being sick for about 4 weeks, it is harder to get pumped for my run. Bit by bit I’m coming back but I have stopped putting as many expectations on myself until I have that run where I feel it is all worth it. Giving myself permission to be kinder to myself has been a good way to heal.
Oh boy I am tired. On the eve of Boston my post tib tendon was injured. This was in 2019. This was to be my 12th Boston. Later I found out my right orthotic was giving no support. I was rehabilitated . So in 2020 I ran 7 virtual races. In January 21, the physio I trusted made new orthotics. From then to August of 2022, constant injury to the right foot. The big toe is deformed and will aquire surgery one day. She put no support in the orthotics. Since September I am trying to come back . The orthopedic surgeon said there was no reason on my part to have this happen. So I have to adapt my orthotic and fit my shoe well so I can run. The knowledge that it wasn’t my body that failed but the misplaced trust I had keeps me going. But this is hard. But I can run with no pain and walk at home no pain, so perhaps I can come back.
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