When Running Becomes Your Identity.

by Sara on May 31, 2016

{and when it stops becoming your identity and you wonder who you are anymore}

Life never takes you where you expect to go, the older I get the more that rings true.  However if you’re willing to work hard, life will take you to some pretty cool places and maybe, just maybe they are even better than what you had originally planned.

Life in Baltimore is nothing like what I had imagined it would be.  In so many ways it’s even better.

In August of 2015 I was running semi regularly, attended a weekly group run at a local running store and was looking forward to the same type of routine in a new city.  I wasted no time searching the internet for running groups in the city and the suburbs, reaching out to people I knew via social media and asking them about the running culture.  After all I was Sara, I was a runner.  It took up most of my identity at the time.

I can now say that I feel settled in Baltimore. I can also now say that I rarely identify myself as a runner.

The best lessons and experiences in life come from letting go of what is comfortable.  For some reason this made so much sense when it came to moving, a new job, a new city, a new way of life, but I couldn’t wrap my head around letting go of running.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you KNOW the person you are with is just not the right one for you?  You can’t get on the same page, you want different things, and yet you’ve been together for so SO long that you don’t really know who you are without them?  That was my life and running.

So if I love it so much and it was such a big part of my life, why did that have to change?  It just wasn’t working out.  I keep getting hurt, not majorly hurt but enough for me to back off for a while.  I starting taking spin class at my work gym a few days a week, because they were free and fit into my schedule and I felt like I needed to get in some kind of workout.  I wanted to maintain some sort of cardiovascular endurance so that when I did return to running I wouldn’t have to start from the bottom again.

Something really life changing happened after a few months, I noticed I was working out less but I felt better. I was happier.  My workouts no longer were about time or distance and had to be compared to someone else workout or time or distance.  I wasn’t logging how many hours or miles I biked, I honestly never even paid attention to the fact that you COULD track miles on the bike until a few classes in.  I went to class, gave it everything I had for 45 minutes, and then I went home.  I felt so good, better than I have felt about myself in a long long time.

I slowly started adding running back into my routine but spin never left.  At the same time I was researching more weight lifting and strength type exercises and incorporating them into my workouts.  I stopped living my life for the next big race and planning my weekends around my long runs.  As time went on I stopped identifying myself as a runner.

I am instead someone who will always love running, someone who wants to get stronger and faster, but also someone interested in all aspects of health and fitness.  Someone who can appreciate a good yoga class or understand the value of a workout DVD that squeezes a total body workout into 30 minutes.  I would rather be healthy and enjoying my life while doing a variety of different exercises than be tied down to one thing only because once upon a time that is what I did.  Change is scary, it’s uncertain, but sometimes it’s what you need in life and it’s ok to let it go and explore other things.

It’s strange though, the more I think about it that we {I say we because I believe that this is applicable for most runners, it’s easy to get sucked it} take a hobby and turn into something that takes over our lives.  Not to say that this doesn’t happen with other hobbies, but interesting that it happens so much with running.  We get blinded by the miles, and it’s the only thing that matters.  If you branch off and try other activities you must not be that serious of a runner.  If you don’t live-breath-sleep-eat everything about running, you must not be that serious a runner.

So I guess I’m not that serious. But I also guess that I don’t mind too much.

Running is not my identity.

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