What Happens When You Stop Doing the Thing You Love
I accidentally took a two-month running hiatus. Here’s what I learned.
You’re not injured. Your Sauconys aren’t worn down in their soles. Your Under Armour puffer, insulated enough to warm you at 10 degrees, begs to face the elements.
But you’re all gear, no guts.
So why did you stop running?
You stop because it’s easier to not do the one thing you know you must do.
You stop because you possess a Copperfieldian ability to create excuses out of thin air.
“I just moved to a new neighborhood,” you might say. “My routine is gone.”
Yet when you travel, you revel in running in new locations, flying by pasticcerias and alleys, up bridges, alongside rivers, past locals who smile or scowl. (Tourists, ugh.)
You stop running for the one reason we all stop pursuing things we love, or could love. And it’s not laziness or circumstance or lack of motivation.
We stop because the possibility of disappointment becomes too much to bear.
What if the sidewalks are too narrow?
What if this new park is pitted with rocks?
What if I look at my new surroundings and realize I turned down the wrong path?
After a few weeks inside, away from the elements, the question becomes, What if I no longer know how?
You meet an accomplice or two. Distractions. “Winter is too cold. Try nesting for once. Cue up some YouTube workouts. Or just, like, do some indoor yoga?” Brilliant idea!
So you learn how to downward dog. You Tracey Anderson the hell out of your arms. (Somewhere in Brentwood, Gwyneth smiles — or tries to.) You nest like a mama bird with babies.
But they’re still distractions. You aren’t doing the one thing you must do.
Winter shuffles by. You grow pale and sullen as your 13-year-old self (and she definitely didn’t like exercise). Now you haven’t run in…how long’s it been?
Gone is the voice that pushed you outside on icy mornings, to race in back-to-back-to-back weekends, the one that chanted you to finish lines and said what you knew was true: This is you at your best self.
What you are not becomes more potent than what you are: I was a runner.
I was a writer, a singer, an actor, a painter, a creative, a gardener, a traveler, a wanderer, a lover, a dreamer.
I was dedicated.
But then a strange thing happens. You journey so far from who you were that you can finally read the tale you’re telling yourself, and the words are all wrong.
“This is not my story,” you might say.
And so on a morning exactly like every other, you find your old shoes. They find your new stoop, your new street, your new stoplights, your new park.
Arms flail, legs lunge, feet thwack thwack thwack — the motions are as familiar as ever, but now you’re bringing ammo from your unplanned intermission: new skills, different strengths, and the memory that you lost sight of everything and still managed to find your way back to the one thing you know you must do.
You remember you like a challenge.
And before long, there you are.
You’re flying again.