False Ends & False Starts

Several times a year, I insist to myself that I will write more on here. And several times a year, I bear the guilt that comes with lying to myself. I won’t call this a comeback. But it’s a step. I hope it’s one entry on this page that will turn into many, many more entries this year. 

My 2020 stats from Strava

In 2020, I logged more than 2,400 miles of running or hiking across 290 “active” days, according to the fitness tracking app Strava, making my current twenty-plus day stretch of sedentariness the outlier in my adult life. I have not given up running, but we are going through a rough patch.

In September 2020, I completed my first 100k trail race. I spent the four months before that race in a strict training routine – running six days a week, strength training 3 of those days, and getting to be by 9:30 pm. It worked – I DOUBLED the furthest distance I’ve ever run, and I felt great doing it. Then, I hit a stretch of pain, low motivation, and frustration. Post-race depression isn’t uncommon, but this is worse than I’ve experienced it before. Likely to blame on the ongoing health crisis and a bleak future for racing. 

Since then, I’ve struggled to get back into a groove with running. I took a bit of time off immediately after my race. Then, when I attempted to begin a new routine, a new-to-me pain in my right hip met me for each run. Bummer. I limped it along for some time by only running every other or every third day. Ultimately, I decided to take a one-week break to let my body heal properly and start fresh and pain-free in 2021. 

I felt guilty for the entire first week. My hip pain wasn’t present during daily life, only during runs, which made the pain feel unimportant – my brain insisted I was lazy, not cautious. The mild depression that often succeeds big races still clung to my brain and body like running shorts on a humid day. To analyze why I felt so guilty for not running, an activity that’s entirely optional and recreational, I thought about why I run.

I love running. Though this bout of low motivation wouldn’t show it, running is an outlet for my emotions and energies. It’s “me time” that I always feel good about taking. It’s led me on many adventures with countless friends. It makes me feel in control of my life and provides a carrot to work towards when so many other things feel outside of my reach. During this reflection, I found some of these items clouded by my desire to be a better – more competitive – runner. A desire to improve isn’t the problem. Allowing that desire to consume the motivation behind running, though, was/is making it challenging for me to want to run right now.

The older I get, the more I try to let my body and brain do what it wants – I don’t force it. So I’ll be here, on the couch most likely, waiting until my brain and my body decide we want to run for fun again. I’m still working up to an inaugural 2021 run. But I did finish an inaugural 2021 website post. So, for now, I’ll settle for a January of more writing, and lots of neighborhood walks with my four-legged training partner, Piper.

Two goals: begin writing again; begin running again.

Photo from my last run, December 24, 2020, of one of my favorite farms to look at in Lancaster County. It’s an old-order Amish farm, perfectly surrounded by fields. The farmstead is barely visible through summer corn, but this time of year, the traditional buildings are on full display.

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