I have a long and complicated relationship with running.
I grew up a fish, swimming before I could walk, and winning fists of ribbons by ‘91. My running coach dad convinced me to run because he said Janet Evens (‘88 and ‘92 Olympic swimmer) ran for cross-training. I HATED it. He’d drag me on his cool down mile at a shuffle pace and my feet would ache and rebel. I had all the advantages of youth, and it still took over a year before both my body and mind adapted.
By 1995 I was confidently competitive in running as well as swimming. In 1997 I did my first triathlon. And by 1998 I gave up daily hours of chlorine and staring at a black line for running outdoors.
Let’s say this is when I married running.
The honeymoon phase didn’t last long. In 2001 after my first year of college running I got the dreaded plantar fasciitis. I fought it for a year, and then just grieved. Moved on. Took up rock climbing, and paddling, and just ran a lot less and much slower.
Ten years later, a full fledged adult I got serious about running again. Injuries, surgeries, evolutions in running science… it was like starting all over again. Run/walk. Shuffle jog. Rebuilding ever so slowly.
I love running for being accessible and elemental. When it’s good it’s VERY GOOD. I feel like a goddess flying over the earth with the rhythms of my heart and breath and legs in harmony with the wind and sun.
I also hate running for being brutal and painfully honest. When it’s bad, it’s fucking grueling. It’s heavy and plodding. Gravity feels extra cruel. Distance and time stretch out beyond comprehension. But it’s because it can be so hard that the rewards are so alluring.
In 2015 I ran 26.2 miles for the first time, as a part of an Ironman Triathlon. I was doing it, I was investing in my running relationship again after a decade of neglect. But I still wasn’t in love.
Then just last year, in the fall of 2019 I ran in spikes for the first time since 2002. It was magical. Running in spikes (for those properly prepared and trained) is like putting on a turbo boost to your feet. It was like being struck by Cupid’s arrow and going through a rom-com nostalgic flashback.
We still fight and have our off days. But we also flirt and the passion is back.