Running Hiatuses

Me, ready for a run. Houston, Texas, September 2011.

Me, ready for a run. Houston, Texas, September 2011.

Sometimes you need time off to remember why you love something so much.

Don't get me wrong: I'd never stopped running. And I was still working hard at the gym, riding my bike, hiking, walking, doing yoga—living my active lifestyle. But for the past few months, I'd cut back to just a few days of running a week and a few miles at a time. Maintenance running.

Why? I don't know. Nagging injuries surfaced. My body felt stiff, achy, and tired so much of the time. But that wasn't it. I'd lost my running mojo.

I haven't been a life-long runner. During my school days, I passed on athletics—the idea of participating in anything extracurricular in high school was anathema. I played a little tennis and did some gym time in graduate school and exercised at home in London. The running bug hit about year after I moved to Houston. Since then, I've been an avid runner.

Over these past several years, I've noticed that an ebb and flow in drive is normal. I have stretches where I'm weary of running. It's a grind. But when the fatigue sloughs away, I'm a stronger runner than ever.

So I just passed through a hiatus. But I'm back.

Last Saturday I went for a short run and nearly doubled my planned mileage. And I could have kept going. While running, I thought about upcoming races: a fall half-marathon relay, a Thanksgiving 10K, a half marathon in the spring, and longer races further out.

Running makes my life better. I feel wonderful. I sleep harder. I eat more healthfully—and my body seems to process food better. My mood lifts. My head is clear. I meet new people. I see places I'd never otherwise see. (You know a place so much better once you've run through it. My eyes opened when I ran in the Galapagos Islands, and in Glacier National Park, and even in cities like Nashville and Baltimore.) And running gives me a sense of play I've otherwise left mostly in childhood.

I'm not much of a yogi, but I appreciate the prompt at the beginning of class, when they suggest you define the meaning of that day's practice. I should do the same thing before each run.

There will be another running hiatus, I know. It's part of the process.

I'll always be back.