Do you ever feel like you go through phases with your running? Like maybe you started out doing it to lose weight and hated it. Or sometimes you are hardcore training for a race and other times you are just running whatever you feel like a few times a week. Maybe you even have had times when you stopped running for a bit- whether due to injury, a planned, break, or just life- but of course you were still a “runner” during those times.
Lately (since I moved) I have been running around my old stomping grounds. I lived in this area from 2008-2010 when I was renting an apartment with my roommate before Rob and I moved in together. As I run the same streets now as I did back then, I can’t help but notice a drastic shift in the runner I am now compared to the runner I was then. It’s also apparent that I have gone through phases with my running, rather than a direct path from where I was then to where I am now.
Back then I was exercising 6 days a week, but running was only a part of that regimen. I would occasionally sign up for a race and then run a bit more to prepare for it. Typically I was running 3-4 days a week, but I wasn’t counting my mileage. My guess would be I ran maybe 15 miles a week? When I ran outside I didn’t really track my pace. I would run with a stopwatch and occasionally use “MapMyRun” to see how far I ran and what my pace was, just out of curiosity. When I ran on the treadmill I would read a magazine, listen to music, and watch TV. Sometimes all at once. (I have no idea how I used to be able to do that. Now, it’s just me and the run.)
It was right before I moved in 2010 that I got hit with the running bug and started to increase my mileage. These were the days before I knew what a foam roller was and “core work” meant “crunches”. I signed up for the Baltimore Marathon with the hopes of running it that fall. (I had already completed 3 half marathons.) As I increased my mileage I started to have hip pain, and long story short I ended up scheduling surgery for a labral repair rather than running a marathon that fall.
I don’t think that it was just a few months of increased training led to my injury; it may have just become more noticeable because of that. It was more likely due to years of dancing and playing field hockey, which are activities that are more likely to cause a labral tear than running alone (and I also had FAI which is a huge factor in labral tears).
Of course no one wants to have a serious injury that leads to surgery. But if we are going to look at the silver lining, it led me to start learning more about the importance of things like foam rolling and strengthening exercises. I also spent my down time reading healthy living blogs. Once I recovered from surgery and began running again I guess you could say I became a more “serious” runner. I began running races regularly, started reading running blogs, and running became my primary form of exercise.
Since then I have gone through some other phases of running but I always feel like I am making some sort of progress with my running and constantly learning new things.
There is one big hill on the main street in my neighborhood, and I always remember that when I had to run up it to get back from my runs 5 years ago it seemed impossible. Most of the time I would stop and walk when I was halfway up. If I made it the whole way, I stopped and walked once I got to the top.
Yesterday, I did 6 hill repeats on that hill. Of course, it is still a challenging hill, and I don’t think that being a more seasoned runner or being in better shape has accounted for my new perception of this hill. It’s more about the mindset. 5 years ago I would always tell myself that it was a big hill and that I could stop and walk. Now I tell myself to push through it and remind myself that it will make me stronger. Lately, walking up that hill just hasn’t been an option, so no matter how hard it feels, I push through.
In a way I think its also a bit of a metaphor for life. We go through ups and downs, some moments/days/years are harder than others, but its really our perception of a situation that determines how we will handle it and if we will persevere.
Do you feel like you go through different phases with your running?
What is something that you have learned to push through and has ultimately led to you becoming stronger in that area?
How do you measure your progress with running over a long period of time?