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Reflections on Running and Why I’m Taking a Hiatus

by Marissa on March 27, 2012

Nautica NYC Triathlon, 2008

It was two weeks ago. I was running with David. I felt slow and heavy and in pain and it wasn’t the first time. I have been battling issues with my posture, pain in my joints and tight hips and hamstrings for well over a year. I’ve sought treatment, but mostly ignored the pain and hoped it would go away (just call me Little Miss Stubborn). So far, it hasn’t.

And then I heard a voice. “Stop running,” it said. I had heard it before but never so loud and so clear. I couldn’t ignore it this time and decided that I better listen. The rest of the run I thought long and hard as I often do when I run.

I thought about how long I had been running: 12 years.

How many road races I’d completed: 22, including the NYC Marathon

How many triathlons I’d trained for: 4 (2 Sprint distances and 2 Olympic distances)

How many breaks I’d taken in all those years and with all those races: 0, except for a week or so post-race

By the end of the run I had simply decided:  Running isn’t serving me anymore (or at least, right now).

And with that, I decided to take a running hiatus.

After the run, David and I got into the elevator in our building, tears streaming down my face as I tried to catch my breath. He comforted me by reminding me that everybody has bad runs once in awhile.

Yes, I knew that. I had had plenty of bad runs in my running “career”. But this wasn’t just another bad run. It was a series of bad runs accompanied by pain and stiffness.

Danskin Triathlon, 2005

Finally admitting that I would hang up my running shoes felt like I had lost my best friend. 

I first stepped on the treadmill in 2000, as a junior in college. I had no idea what I was doing but I liked that I could set goals and build on them. One mile turned into three and slowly my freshman ten came off. A couple years later, living in downtown Chicago, I took to running outside and ran my first road race. I was 23 years old. It was the beginning of a long friendship.

When I moved to NYC, I joined Team In Training and found new running routes -in Central Park, the East River and the Hudson River Promenade.

Through it all, I ran because I enjoyed it and I ran because …

  • Running made me feel free and strong
  • “The longer I run the smaller my problems become” (a mantra I adopted after seeing it in a magazine ad almost 8 years ago)
  • I could clear my mind when I had to make a big decision or wanted to get over a breakup
  • I wanted to accomplish goals I set for myself
  • At the times in my life when I was broken down and empty, running lifted me up like a reliable friend



But more recently, it had become something I do because it’s what I do.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to run a certain number of miles per week and to pound the pavement even when I wasn’t feeling it. I had stopped training for races, but in my mind I was still training for races. The enjoyment was waning, but I kept on as my type-A self often does.

I had burned out and my body was going with it.

Acknowledging that it was time to take a step back from running is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because it required me to ignore my mind, listen to my body and trust my intuition. 

Now that I’m clear about what I need to do, I feel like a world of possibility has opened up for me. I’m doing more yoga, swimming more often, taking tennis lessons, signed up for a Jazz class starting in April and can’t wait to ride my bike more too.

I’m excited to move for the sake of movement, in a way that feels good to me.

It has only been two weeks, but more than once I’ve felt a tinge of  yearning to tie on my shoes and go for a run.  So with a little rest, I know I’ll be back.

The next time I run, I’ll do it for no other reason than because my body wants to. Because I truly feel like it. And because I love it.

St. Anthony’s Triathlon, 2006


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Cindy Lai Fitness
Cindy Lai Fitness

Sometimes we can all use a break. Other times we just need to take a step back and enjoy the other things around us. It's easy to be hard on yourself and beat yourself down to the ground without realizing it. I've been there too and it's no fun when neither your mind nor your body functions at full capacity. It all goes back to finding a healthy balance for yourself.

Sarah Kay Hoffman
Sarah Kay Hoffman

Oh how alike we are! I had a very similar thing happen, but pain in other parts of my body. I used to blog all things running and I got quite good at it. There is nothing like the rush of a good run, until it's just not the same anymore. I feel your pain. Take your'll likely be back!


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