I didn’t mention it to many people, but in the summer and fall of 2016 I felt like a broken runner. I had just DNFed the Jemez 50 for the second time in three years. During training in the weeks following it, my hips and legs felt weird/painful/off enough that I couldn’t run downhills even. I often felt like I was going to fall over when I was just walking down stairs at work.
So I stopped running. The second half of 2016 had my lowest monthly mileage totals in almost a decade, with some totally up to zero. I was still active; biking to work, climbing, working out, a near-daily yoga practice, etc. But I wasn’t running and I told myself I wouldn’t run until I wanted to again. And if that was never, well okay.
This might all seem rather dramatic to non-runners. I get it. But it is easy as a “serious” runner to let it become an out-sized part of your personality and take on that sort of significance.
Spending time on these other physical activities ended up being beneficial. I hadn’t touched a barbell since high school sixteen or seventeen years earlier. I started and progressed through Starting Strength and then a Candito Program and found out that I actually really enjoyed powerlifting-style workouts. (I even kicked around the idea of competing in a powerlifting meet to satisfy my competitive urge).
One day in April, I was either home from work early or off work, and decided to lace up my shoes and go for a run for the first time in months. And it went completely fine. There was no pain, no huffing and puffing and a bit of the joy that I been missing during my broken-down training runs after Jemez nearly a year earlier.
Now, six or seven months and a season of racing later, I feel like a stronger and more well-rounded athlete than ever. I can deadlift twice my body weight, have more flexibility than ever before in my life in addition to being as fast of a runner as I ever have been. I don’t have the best endurance of my life at the moment, but there’s plenty of time to work on that next year.