For many years, "runner" was one of my core identities. But that identity has ebbed and flowed over the last 15 years. I got into running in my mid-20s and ran my first half marathon in June of 2006 and then my first marathon in October of 2006. Then I started grad school in the fall of 2006 and oof, I struggled to find time for running in the midst of working full time and grad school/homework/group project meetings (which were the bain of my existence and unnecessary for part-time MBA students IMO - but I digress!). So I really did not run/workout consistently during my grad school years. I found my way back to running in 2009 after graduating with my MBA that spring.
Then I ran very consistently from 2009 through 2013. I ran marathons in 2010 and 2012, and a handful of other races. Then I was diagnosed with a stress fracture shortly after moving to Charlotte in the spring of 2013. And then I was diagnosed with RA later that summer - but I will always wonder if the stress fracture was a misdiagnosis and it was actually RA causing my foot pain? I'll never know. My RA was so bad at that time that pretty much everything hurt. It hurt to walk and I couldn't fully extend one of my arms due to pain in my elbow. I was supposed to run the Chicago marathon with some blogger friends that October but ended up spectating. I remember spectating and wondering if I would ever run another marathon.
Luckily, my RA became well managed and I was back to running by the spring of 2014 when I moved back to Minneapolis. I re-joined my running club when I moved back to Minneapolis and ran my 4th marathon in 2015. I also did a sprint triathlon in August of 2015. That winter/early spring, I started to have some awful hip pain and eventually had to have surgery on my hip in May of 2016 to fix a labral tear in my hip. I have an anatomical abnormality so all that running plus the abnormality in my hip joint resulted in a tear in my left hip.
After that surgery, I knew my marathon days were over. I'm susceptible to another tear on the other side so I've decided it's just not worth it to risk another labral tear and surgery. I wasn't cleared to run until late October 2016 - right in time for our cold weather season to hit! I started to run again in the spring of 2017 and was just starting to get back to a good base level of fitness. And then I got pregnant! I thought I would run during my pregnancy, but early in my pregnancy I had a bleeding issue and while running was likely safe, it would result in more bleeding and that was not good for my mental health so I stopped running. And then my RA got horribly bad during pregnancy so running was out of the question. I got so many steroid injections - 10 total I think - that the guy who gave me my injections had to draw a map of my hands so we could keep track of what we'd injected!
Paul was born in March of 2018 and I had all these visions of being a mom that runs with her baby. But I could not fit running/working out into my schedule once I returned to work. We leave the house around 6:50 and I just did not have it in me to get up at 4:30-5 to workout before work. I know there are moms who can and will do this, but I have different sleep needs - and a chronic illness that gets worse when I am overtired/stressed. Reading this paragraph, I feel like I am making a lot of excuses for myself, but prioritizing sleep over running/working out was the right decision for me. I tried to do at home workouts when I could and we went on many family stroller walks.
Flash forward to the spring of 2021. We had Will in December and I saw a pelvic floor PT (highly recommend seeing one to all post-partum women!!) and had her help me safely return to running. This is TMI territory, but I never had any leaking issues - probably because I had c-sections (although I did dilate to 9cm with Paul!). But I injured myself in my abdomen from vigorously bouncing fussy baby Will so that is what prompted seeing this PT. She was incredible and helped me slowly and safely return to running and exercise. I lucked out and my neighbor across the street is also a runner (and a FT working mom whose schedule jived with mine). So we started to run together in April of 2021 and trained for an ran a 10 mile race in October of 2021. I was only able to train for that race because of the flexibility of working from home. So that is one huge positive to come out of Covid!
Flash forward again to the spring of 2022. I had signed up for a 10 mile race in May during the winter, thinking I could maintain my mileage when/if I returned to the office. My office re-opened in March and we were expected to come in 3 days/week. Unsurprisingly, it has turned out that fitting running in has been hard. For awhile I was able to leave work 1 days/week around 3 to run, but it's too hot at that time of day in the summer to run - at least for me. So I'm back to fitting workouts in Friday-Monday. I personally can't run 4 days in a row, so at most, I'm getting 2 days of running in each week, maybe 3 if I am lucky. Leading up to that 10 mile race, I knew I needed to drop down to the 10k option. And then I got Covid the week before the race so I didn't race at all, of course.
So what comes next? I've decided to run a 10k race over marathon weekend in October. A 10 mile race is just too much for me right now. It was fine last year but I was sick so much with colds and such leading up to the race that it wasn't exactly the most enjoyable race experience and my time was so slow and depressing. I know no one else cared about my time, but it was just kind of depressing to see how slow I was. I tried to have some grace since I was breastfeeding a baby that turned 10 months the day I ran the race, but as a person susceptible to intense self-criticism, I didn't feel super proud of my accomplishment on race day.
Looking ahead, one change I'm going to make is shifting down to coming into the office 2 days/week. I don't think anyone really cares how often I am coming in and 2 days feels like enough in-office time for me.
All this said, I still consider myself a runner - but a runner with different goals. Instead of double-digit long runs, I'll run 5-6 miles on a weekend morning. And that is just fine for this stage of life. What I'm most proud of is that I'm showing my impressionable 4-year old that mommy is active and enjoys running.
Have you lost touch with a core identity at any point of your life?