Last Monday morning I woke up with achy legs, feeling tired and with a sense of achievement – exactly how I was expecting to feel the day after the Bristol Half Marathon.
My race pack popped through the letterbox weeks before, I had scanned training plans, bought a new t-shirt with the race in mind and looked forward to a good time.
On the day of the race, I woke up early, laced up my trainers and headed out the door, passing lycra-clad runners with their race numbers pinned on their chests.
I wasn’t going to be joining them at the start line.
Months ago, James and I decided not to run the half marathon, which was a bittersweet choice.
This race was going to be the one in which we smashed sub-2hr, it would be my fifth half marathon and James’ second – this time following a proper training plan.
We muddled through a few training runs for the Bristol 10k and thoroughly enjoyed it but then began to take more and more ‘breaks’ from running.
With each one, I began to feel better and better. My allergies subsided (despite being in hayfever season), my hormones balanced out and my skin improved dramatically.
Every time I went for a run I felt emotional and panicky. I experienced cold-like symptoms and weight loss coupled with extreme hunger for a few days after.
This happened when I was running alone, with friends or James – I would be fighting back tears as I struggled to keep up, blow my nose, use my inhaler and move my lead legs.
Eventually, I stopped running altogether and felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders (and legs).
Last Sunday, the day of the half marathon I’d be so looking forward to, James and I got up early, went for a walk and smiled at runners heading to the start.
He peeled off for a work conference in Cornwall and I put on my sexiest waterproofs and headed to a ‘doodle meet’ nearby, where we had a blast.
I’m not writing this post to be anti-running – I have huge respect to those who do it, who have recently completed big races and are in training for others.
I just want to explain that it’s not for everyone, all of the time. And that’s absolutely fine.
Ultimately, you need to find something you love, something that makes you feel good both in the long term and short term, something that brings you joy.
That ‘thing’ might change over time – running has definitely been it for me in the past, it may well be again. If it isn’t, that’s ok.
On that note, I know I’ll want to get back to ‘formal’ workouts at some point because I enjoy them, especially pilates and Crossfit. Just not right now.
Currently, I’m walking Henry at least twice a day – with sprints, jumps and squats thrown in – aiming for between 15 and 20,000 daily steps come torrential rain or shine.
It may not be anything spectacular and I’m not going to earn any medals (oh race bling, how I miss you) but it is working really well right now.
Running has brought me lots of things – friends, confidence, a sense of achievement, great experiences, toned thighs.. – and I do miss it some days.
But I have to remind myself that those benefits are not exclusive to running and can be found out of the sweatosphere, as well as other places within it.