Thursday, March 12, 2015

Is there a time when you should give up running?

Is there a time when you should give up running?  If you are looking for an actual answer, I don't have one.  I struggle with this question all the time.  Not just running, but soccer and other workouts.  As I run I'm always thinking, "When is enough, enough?"  It's usually because my runs are not pain free. I started my soccer career when I was 8 years old. I went on to play high school varsity, recruited to play Division 1 soccer in college, and even played on a semi-pro team after graduation. Thirty years later and I'm still playing. Continuing to play while adding in running hasn't been without its trials.

It was the spring season of my junior year in college that I tore my first ACL. After reconstructive surgery, I rehabbed that summer and made it back four months later to finish my senior year.  My second ACL surgery came nine months after having my first child. I think I actually tore it in an indoor game before getting pregnant, but I had to cancel my MRI after I found out I was pregnant.  I ended up trying to play, but after I felt my knee slip in and out of place, I figured it was time to get it checked out again.  My third major injury came months before getting pregnant with my third child. I pulled a hamstring playing in an outdoor soccer game. I continued to play on it, making it worse. Five years later, it is a chronic issue and I have pain anytime I sprint, run long distance, or run uphill. But still I run (and play indoor soccer).  

I am a competitive person. It's hard to watch people my age train and compete when I battle physically and emotionally through each run. I try not to think about those things. I'm learning that maybe winning races isn't my priority. I'd rather spend my extra time with my family and cheering on my kids at their own sports. On the weekends, I'd rather wake up when the sun is up than run in the dark. I've made the choice to work out and run for my health and to make myself feel good, not to beat someone else. I want running to be fun and something I enjoy. I know each run will not be easy, if it was it's probably not worth it. I still challenge myself, but on my own terms. I still like to run races. This will be my eighth year in a row to run the Gate River Run 15K. This is one of my favorite races. With 20,000 runners, there is always someone to run with and the fan support is great. It's pretty much the only race I do each year, but completing it is one of my yearly goals.  I do feel the pressure as race time nears and my training does not even compare to my past times.  I look at my PR times and can't even remember how I ran that fast.  I guess that's what happens when your body gets older than your mind does.  It just can't keep up with what I want it to.

I'm still playing soccer, but only indoor.  Full field outdoor games seem to be too much for my hamstring.  Should I give it up?  Maybe.  My Mom teases me about my future knee replacement surgeries.  I do have pain on a daily basis, but nothing that I can't handle.  It's been something I've dealt with for years, so it's just my normal.  For now, much of my social life and workout life overlap.  I even wake up at 4:30 am once a week, just so I can run with friends that I don't get to see enough otherwise.  So maybe I should stop running, but I'm not ready to give it all up yet.  For now I'm living in denial.  I don't want to have to give up a part of me.  Have any of you had to give up what you love to do?  What did you decide to do instead?  Maybe I can practice yoga.  Thanks for listening as I try to avoid getting any older or just complain about it!

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