I used to be a runner. I like to call myself retired from a sport I loved and participated in for many years. It sounds better than I just stopped running like Forrest Gump.
With sports we often talk about pushing ourselves to the limit. This leave it all on the line mentality leads to so many memorable moments in sports: gymnast Kerry Strug completing her dismount on one leg in the 96 Olympics to win the gold for the U.S. team. A year later Michael Jordan played through the “flu” (which may have been food poisoning) in a finals game scoring 38 points and was carried off the court at the end. Very recently, Carolina basketball player Armando Bacot in played all but the final 30 seconds of the Championship game on a badly sprained ankle.
But there should also be something said for recognizing our limits. Knowing we have pushed our bodies far enough and learning what we can and can’t handle.
Once you have an injury you often have to make adjustments to your training in order to come back healthy. I ended up with two tibial stress fractures at the same time in college. I didn’t race for a year, spent a lot of time in the pool and learned to balance running and cross training so I could compete in my final year of eligibility.
Later in life came the challenge of my body adjusting to pregnancy. Having to go through this five times now it’s been quite a process. I was able to run after my first two, but I remember trying to run after I had Reese and being in so much pain that I said no, I can’t run anymore. It’s too much for me and my body. And that’s ok.
I shifted to a variety of training including walking, swimming, hiit training, barre, Pilates, and step classes. The change ended up helping me as I became a strength and conditioning coach around this time.
Once the pandemic hit I found YouTube workouts and began doing even more. I tried dance, Zumba and kickboxing. I got my own kettlebells and include that in my training. I have to do low impact workouts or modify things as jumping bothers my legs as well but I’m paying attention to my body and what it can handle at this point.
And I know I’m going to have to do even more adjusting following surgeries from this cancer including a bilateral mastectomy this summer. It’s going to be difficult for me to be limited to just walking for awhile but I must allow my body to heal and take it really easy. That will probably be my biggest challenge yet since I am such an active person.
This picture is from the Rutgers half marathon ten years ago. Leading up to this half I had the crazy idea to try training for a full marathon. I made it up to an 18 mile long run but then got hit with the flu and realized a half marathon is enough. And that’s ok. I listened to my body and what it could handle and set more realistic training goals.
At one point I thought running a marathon made you a true distance runner. It was something you had to do at some point. But I realized it wasn’t in the cards for me and my body and that’s ok. I had a successful and good running career and it’s time to move on to different training that my body can better handle at this point.
It’s hard because as athletes we become conditioned to push through pain. We learn to ignore how much pain we are in and tough it out. It’s hard to admit we can’t do something.
It may have taken three kids for me to finally learn to pay attention to my body’s limits but it’s what I needed to do. Sometimes it’s harder to take it easy than keep pushing through.