To Run Or Not To Run

I’ve been taking a break from running; a relatively long one, by my standards. I once ran for 100 consecutive days, so for me, anything more than a few days off just doesn’t happen! Even when I was battling through injuries, I still ran once or twice a week. Running virtually non-stop for more than 8 years and almost 12,000 miles finally caught up to me though, and a lengthy break became necessary.

Running has been very good to me, and because of it, I believe that I’m healthier now at 54 years of age than when I was 30. Like many people though, I’ve gone through “phases” in my life where new interests replace old ones, and I was always worried that something would eventually come along to replace running. I’ve known a few friends who, like Forrest Gump, just woke up one day and quit and I’ve always been fearful that would happen to me too! Taking a break could possibly be opening the door to my next phase, and that really scared me!

Sure, when I’m running, I can eat virtually whatever I want and not gain weight. This farm boy also enjoys getting outside after working inside all day. Then there’s endorphins, the so called “runner’s high.” I’m physically fit and feel great (most of the time). I have the best group of friends who also happen to be runners, and we have a great time together.

But then there’s all the time I spend running: I never seem to have much time for anything else. When I’m training, I become this obsessed maniac who is always excited and/or dreading the next workout on my plan. It’s also not easy having a demanding job that leaves you physically and mentally drained, and then having to find the energy and motivation to go running too. Perhaps the worst thing is that now, at my age, I need to spend even more time with strength and flexibility if I want to continue running at the level I want.

I’ve spent the last two months mostly resting. That, and working on strengthening the parts of my body my physical therapist says need strengthening. I’ve given running a lot of thought, though, and whether I want to continue running marathons, or even at all. I’ve worked hard on strength and flexibility and will need to continue doing so if I want to run more than a few miles a week. I’ve spent a lot of time in my recliner, which is where most people my age spend their time. Sensible 50 something adults are not outside running on icy sidewalks where they can fall and break their ankles, which happened to a much younger friend of mine just this week!

Yesterday, I made my decision. Even though I’ve only been running for a short period of time, I’ve come to appreciate its role in my life. As my story unfolds, I’ve discovered that my running chapter is more complex than I realized, and nowhere near being over. Hopefully I’ll have many more years to continue adding to the chapter and perhaps, the best part is still to come? I know for sure there is only one way to find out, so today I went out and began my next journey. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but like I always do, I began by putting one foot in front of the other and see where it takes me. Today, it took me 3.1 miles and gave me that familiar feeling of accomplishment that I’ve come to expect from running. Welcome back, old friend!