A touchy subject

I want to preface this post with the fact that this is hard for me to write about because it is rather personal and I know that a lot of my family members read this.

With that being said, this post has to do with running.  If you have read my about me section of my blog, you are probably familiar with the fact that I started running seriously when I started my weight loss journey.  I partnered weight loss with running.   I felt that in order to lose weight, I had to run, and if I didn’t run then I wouldn’t lose weight.  I know this is a rather silly thought process, but it made perfect sense to me at the time.  If you read my about me section, you are probably also familiar with the fact that I am a creature of habit.  Once I get into the habit of something, I stick to it.

Running to me has been something that I just do.  Typically 6 days a week, I go out and run or work out in some form or fashion.  While I do enjoy it, I also think that it is just such a part of a routine for me.  I plan my life around when I can run.  When my body hurts, I still run.  I honestly can’t tell you why I do this to myself when my body hurts, but I just do it.  At the same time,  I am very cautious of injury and if I was seriously injured, I would stop running. *Knock on wood.*   Again, I really do enjoy running so don’t get the wrong impression.  Running to me has been a huge constant in my life and something that I can always count on.

Why do I bring this up, you may ask.  Well, today I didn’t run.  Why?  Because I didn’t feel like it, and my body hurts.  This is very unlike me because I just had a rest day on Saturday.  Typically I try to have only one day a week of rest if I can help it.  Today, there really was no reason not to run other than the fact that I just didn’t want to do it.  I went into my old work today and was talking to my old co-worker who is also a runner.  She said to me “why run if you are in pain?  Sometimes your body just needs a rest.” While i’ve always heard this, I always thought that I was an exception to this rest rule.  Today, I changed my mind.  I didn’t want to run, and I listened.  This is a HUGE step for me.  I don’t want to say i’m addicted to running, but I kind of am.  I really want to start to train for a half marathon, but I know if I do this I will need to learn how to listen to my body.  This means when i’m hungry, I eat (‘m VERY good with this one, HAHA), and when I don’t feel like running because my body is in pain, I won’t.

Honestly I just need to realize that not running will not make me gain weight, it doesn’t deem me lazy or unhealthy and it in fact can actually be GOOD FOR ME. I am at a  point now where I know I don’t need to lose weight and really gaining a couple pounds wouldn’t hurt me.  I need to realize that a day, or 2, or 3 days off a week won’t kill me.  My knees have been hurting me for a couple weeks now, and I think it is due to the fact that I transitioned from running outside to running on a treadmill.  I am hoping that by taking a couple days off from running will help my body rest and recover properly and the way it needs to.

Like I mentioned before, running has always been such a comfort for me.  I don’t know why I am having such a hard time with taking today off from running, but I am, and that isn’t normal.  All through my life I was always overweight and thought that if I ran, I would lose weight.  I think this also has to do with the fact that I had pressure from my dad since I was young to “get out there and run.”  Maybe I am damaged for life!  I hope not.  I really just want to develop a healthy relationship with running.  I want to run when I want to, and not to maintain my weight.  I realize that running is a part of a healthy lifestyle, but I also don’t want it to CONSUME my life.  I have been cutting back on distance, but I think maybe I should focus now on running less days a week.  W hen I start school next semester, I am going to have the least free time i’ve ever had.  It is going to be a challenge for me to figure out a running schedule, but at the same time I want to just not worry about it and let life happen.

What are your thoughts on this?

What is your relationship with running or working out?

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17 Responses to A touchy subject

  1. Meg C. says:

    Kristine,
    I totally sympathize with what you’re saying here. I’ve gone through phases where I feel like I “need” to do a certain amount of running, at a certain pace, etc. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in it and feel like it’s not optional for you- you just have to do it despite pain or other obstacles.

    When I had a hip injury I ran on it for awhile in major pain – I thought “I can’t not run – that’s just not possible for me”. I also thought “I shouldn’t be injured, so I should keep running”. Finally it got so bad I was forced to stop running for about a month and it killed me – I thought I’d lose all ability to run and all my speed. But I didn’t! And I also realized I don’t need to run as part of every single workout – spacing my runs out gives my hips and knees a much needed rest, and I can still maintain good speed and distance when I do run.

    I hope you can give yourself a rest and figure out a good balance for yourself. I know what it feels like to think your life will totally suck without being able to run as much as you want, but trust me, you adjust!

    • Kristine says:

      Thanks so much Meg! I really do need to learn to space out my runs with other forms of exercise. I’d love to try yoga! If my knees don’t get better, I am going to be forced to try other forms of exercise. There is only so much running one human being can do, right? Glad to know you got through your injury and are doing better now. You really made me feel better! :)

  2. I think if you take some time off, your knees will heal rather quickly. Maybe you could do an active recovery? Doing the elliptical intensely burns almost as many calories as running, and it’s low impact.

    This post really spoke to me because I was the same way in college. I think that once you take a few days off from running and you realize that you haven’t gained weight from it, then it may sink in that running doesn’t have to be an every day activity.

    That worked for me. In fact I have lost about 7 lbs since I graduated college, and I work out less! (I think that may be attributed to drinking a lot less alcohol now though.)

  3. Danielle says:

    I know where you’re coming from. I used to go to the gym all the time because if I didn’t, I’d feel lazy (and I thought I’d gain weight). It took me a while to realize that we NEED rest days to get stronger. That’s when your muscles heal :) You def. should give yourself a break if you have pain b/c you could end up hurting yourself! I’ve been there, it’s not fun :?

  4. lindsayruns says:

    Proud of you for listening to your body. Too much of a good thing is still too much, unfortunately. Rest days are good for you, and life isn’t going to be constant…perhaps you need an “off season” to slow down and then gear up with gusto for a fab half later on in the summer or fall. :)

  5. Thank you for being so open. This was a great post!

    I completely relate and have struggled with this off and on. I just remind myself that there are tons of other healthy people that don’t run every day. They do yoga, take aerobics classes, use the elliptical machine, or do nothing at all. I remind myself that running is a hobby, not a way to lose weight. Just keep telling yourself that and keep your head up :)

  6. 1. You and your family are STUNNING!
    2. I used to be like you, but now I take TWO rest days every week and make sure to do something else besides run when my body is sore (like a long stretch or even just some ab strengthening and pushups or a short walk). I run 3-4 days a week and lift 1-2 days, and it feels GOOD! I noticed that I am running faster now that I am only running about 4 days a week.

  7. I have an identical running relationship as you except I was forced to stop/learn how to cope without it due to injuries. Running is my favorite form of physical activity and while I associate it with health and happiness, I still want to set and pursue running goals. I just need to make sure to do it slowly and steadily so I don’t keep getting injured. Most of all, running makes me feel more confident for some reason.

    I’ve realized throughout the years that exercise it my biggest form of stress relief (and sometimes procrastination). I always WANT to workout when I am stressed to the bone. When I have nothing to do, working out is just blah. Weird huh?

  8. Kristine – Whatever exercise you do, you should really enjoy it. If running is not making you happy and actually causing you pain, do something else for a week or two (yoga, biking, etc). Running too long, too hard, and without a break can make even the best and most experienced runners get burned out. If you truly liked running in the first place, give it a rest for a little while, then come back to it and see if it still feels right.

  9. I think it’s so important to take a step back and try to listen to your body, like you are doing. Your body is trying to tell you something, and unfortunately, if you don’t listen to it, you might end up seriously injured and be forced to take WEEKS or MONTHS off. Taking an extra day off here and there isn’t so bad in comparison.

    You should definitely try yoga. There are a few sites where you can download podcasts for free. They aren’t the same as a regular studio, but have you tried yogadownload.com. I’ve downloaded quite a few of their 20 minute yoga downloads (and I use the PDF printable guide too). I thought they’d be too boring, but I really do feel refreshed afterwards. This might be an option for you on days when you don’t want to run, but you don’t want to rest.

  10. louisianagrown says:

    I have times where I am really really into running and do it every day. Then they are times when I slack off and do it only a couple of days a week. There was even one point where I went like three weeks without running, and I didn’t like myself very much for that. I mostly just try to keep a balance of listening to when my body or mind needs a rest without letting myself get TOO lazy. This is a hard balance to keep, and I screw it up sometimes.

    Which brings me to the point that it’s okay to screw up. Your body is young and capable of healing, and you shouldn’t mentally beat yourself up about exercising too much (or too little). Just give it your best every day, and if you fall short of your goals, move on and try again tomorrow.

    Hope this helps and thanks for sharing your heart with us.

  11. Caroline says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Kristine. I think that running is a very addictive sport in itself and for many of us who began running to help with weight loss it does become a habit and a very scary thing to stop doing or take breaks from. I too used to fear taking days off and thinking that if I didn’t run or do SOMETHING every day that I would gain weight. Similar to Meg C. I had a hip injury and an ankle injury that sidelined me for about a month. Surprisingly I didn’t gain any weight during this time and was able to come back to it without much trouble at all. I think the most important thing is to listen to your body when it tells you something, that really is key and the best to prevent injury! I think it’s great that your having these thoughts and shows that your on the right path to a healthy running relationship.

  12. Casey says:

    I think running is like a drug, any other drug…your body just gets addicted! But besides the obvious effect of injury, I think it does more harm than good…moderation is key though. I think you have to remember to respect your body, respect the joy of running so it doesn’t become work, and give yourself the rest you need so you feel energized for the next run! :)

  13. Leah says:

    I can understand where you’re coming from. I used to feel guilty when I didnt run. But if you dont feel like it, take the day off. Its good for you, and the next time you get out there it feels SO much better!

  14. I’m a little late to be commenting but I cannot tell you how much I NEEDED to read this. I’m dealing with not being able to run (or any other form of exercise) right now due to an injury and like and others have said, it is driving me INSANE. Running has been an emotional outlet for me to begin with and now I feel like I have all this stuff bottled up inside me with no way to release it. I’m also terrified that i’m going to gain weight and/or lose my endurance. It’s been about a week since I haven’t ran at all and you know what… I haven’t gained anything. I’m still worried but I also have come to the realization that it is not, in fact, the end of the world. I will run again. But I was supposed to be running my first half marathon, it’s a huge goal of mine, in April and now it’s on hold, not sure if it will happen. But I will run a half marathon at some point, regardless. And I have learned the same lesson from my injury about listening to your body.. you just have to! My injury may have been prevented if I had simply listened and taken rest days when my body was practically screaming at me to rest, but i was too stubborn. I will never take another run for granted or push my body beyond it’s limits. You have come to a great realization and a lesson that many of us should probably learn. But thank you again, you have no idea how much I needed to read this :)

  15. strawberrysuitcase says:

    i’m in the same boat as you. great post. there is just something about running that makes us feel strong and we have to be honest, it does help us lose weight. however, i’ve realized that as long as i’m eating healthily and if i can’t work out–it’s all about what i put in my body that makes the difference. i think running is a great way for people to think they can ‘un do’ whatever they ate.

    i ran today for a little bit even though i wasn’t feeling well. i did it because it is such a part of my routine and a part of me does think that if i stop running i will gain weight. it’s a vicious cycle but you can overcome it. thanks for sharing.

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