Runner's Life
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Runner's Life

Ten Things I Learned During a Month Without Running

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Plantar fasciitis, the injury that knocked me off the course of the NYC Marathon in early November, has kept me from running for the past month. Here are ten things I learned — or relearned— during this running hiatus.

1. Running makes me happy. And not running makes me unhappy. I remember years ago telling my husband that I needed to move to be happy. He’s not built like that, so he didn’t quite believe me. Then one day we went for a hike. I started the hike in a foul mood. Within 20 minutes, however, I was running and laughing, and I swear if someone had taken a picture of me there would have been bluebirds singing in circles around my head. “Wow,” my husband said. “It’s true.” He has encouraged me to move ever since.

2. My calendar revolves around running. I’m used to long runs on Saturdays, easy runs on Sundays, and runs after work a couple of times a week. It took me a while to figure out what to do with my newfound free time, especially on Saturday mornings.

3. Running is a big part of my social life. I have made wonderful friends through running, and I missed them this past month. Sure, we met for coffee or a glass of wine, but it wasn’t the same as going for a run and chatting away the miles.

4. Running helps satisfy my goal-oriented personality. I’ve always known I was goal-driven, but I realized just how much when my running came to an abrupt — albeit temporary — halt. It isn’t just races; track workouts, tempo runs, and long runs all satisfy my need to push myself and check off a box. A month without trying to run a certain speed or a particular distance has left me feeling a bit of a slacker.

5. Running creates a lot of laundry. I didn’t realize just how much laundry until I was no longer running four or more days a week. I could go a whole week without doing laundry when I wasn’t worrying about stinking up the hamper with my running clothes.

6. Running is not keeping me from writing a book. I’ve told myself — mostly when the miles get long and hard in the thick of marathon training — that if I weren’t doing all this running, I would finally finish the book I’ve been writing. That was patently false as I have not looked at the book in the past five weeks.

7. Reading about running helps when I can’t run. I’ve always loved reading about running, but I found this to be especially true during this running break. If I couldn’t run, I could at least read about it. I can’t count how many runners I have started following on Instagram.

8. Not running helps me appreciate other forms of exercise. As I said earlier, moving makes me happy. Running is my favorite form of movement, but since I couldn’t do that, I had to find a form of exercise to help me avoid turning into a complete ogre. So I biked. And when I did, I experienced the joy of moving faster than I could ever go simply on my own two feet.

9. My husband is always my best cheerleader. He was there when I stepped off the marathon course and he has been there these past five weeks telling me I’ll be back and stronger than ever. He is supportive even when I get cranky. (See #1 above.)

10. I need to do more than run if I want to keep running. Yes, that means stretching. Yes, that means doing strength work. Yes, that means foam-rolling. Yes, that means cross-training. All the things that I neglected to do in earnest so that I could get in extra training miles might have helped me get in the last 18 miles at the marathon, and they might have let me get in my usual miles this past month.

Live and learn.

Running shoes ready to go.

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Jeannette Sanderson

Jeannette Sanderson

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I read, write, and run in the beautiful Hudson Valley, where I live with my husband, our black Lab, Beckett, and our rescue pup, Magnolia.