I had a steady five year long love affair with running. Well, it wasn’t all love, if I’m being all the way honest. It started with a pretty intense hatred, downgraded to mild annoyance and after an epiphany or two, got elevated to euphoria and general runner-love smugness. I ran most mornings at 5am, did half-marathon after half-marathon (threw a couple of full marathons in there to keep things spicy). I was the go-to girl for all things running-related for a bit there. But the past year and some change, the love has dwindled. I beat myself up about it, tried in vain to get back out there, until I woke up last week and realised: I’m just over it.
I simply do not want to run anymore. I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t feel conflicted. I don’t think it’s a phase. I just have zero interest in it.
Running came into my life at a time I didn’t even realise I needed it. I was approached by a PR company who asked if I’d like to run a half marathon and blog about it. I’d never run before, but thought I’d give it a crack. I was terrible at it. I couldn’t understand why anyone would do it. Then, slowly but surely, I could run a little further each time, I got a little faster, I felt more confident, more self-assured, my body was suddenly this powerhouse that made me feel like Wonder Woman every time I pounded the pavement.
I became part of this huge running community, with ties to various international running crews. Everyone I knew, ran. We’d travel to other countries to run races together. We were all bonded by this excellent and healthy pastime.
Despite being part of this massive running community, I always preferred to run alone. Funnily enough, no one ever really fancied joining me on my 5am jaunts. I’d take pictures of my feet in interesting spots I found on my run and so many people would tell me how inspiring they found those pictures. If I didn’t post any for a while, they’d tell me how much they missed them. You know, I thought, you do always have the option of going out for a run yourself.
I did the London Marathon in 2015 and the training bored me almost to literal tears at times. Running can be pretty interesting up to about 14 miles. After that, you get really envious of people waiting at bus stops. I tried every kind of visualisation technique, I listened to podcasts, I ran in silence, I made playlists full of songs guaranteed to keep me going – I could not, for the life of me, find a way to stay interested.
And I never reached that higher plane of consciousness a lot of runners talk about either, where you’re just watching the miles fly by and you’re so focused on the moment. Nope. I was focused on a lot of other shit, mainly shit I’d rather be doing than trying to clock 20 miles on a cold Sunday morning.
I did the race. (For the record, London Marathon is massively over-hyped – the route is abysmal.) I had a great time on race day. I danced my way around most of the route, but there was also a solid 7-8 mile stretch of it where I was so bored, it took everything in me to not walk off the course and get on the nearest tube.
Two days after the race, I was back on my spin bike teaching. And that’s where I felt I belonged. Through the whole thing, that’s where I experienced that sense of euphoria, a feeling of community. It’s hard to wipe the smile off my face when I’m teaching.
A few weeks went by, then months. I’d had a few feeble attempts at little neighbourhood runs, but my heart wasn’t in it.
Last year, exercise-wise, I just spun. I didn’t miss running at all. I craved doing strength and flexibility work, but never really found myself longing for a run. And why would I? It’s not like I’m not getting enough cardio.
The way I see it, running, for me, was like any other relationship. Sometimes, you find ‘the one’, sometimes you drift apart and just have to move on. Running represented a period of time in my life where I went through a lot, learned a lot, grew a lot and the miles I ran were an essential part of who I was. They taught me so much about strength, resilience and confidence, about determination, self worth and grit. I wouldn’t trade those miles for anything.
But they’re not who I am now. I found a new love. Many new loves, in so many things and so many ways. Every time I’m in front of my spin class teaching, I’m so grateful that somehow all those miles led me here. I have a much stronger sense of purpose and I get to share that in a room full of sweaty warriors every day.
So yeah, I’m not a runner anymore. And it feels pretty great.