5 Stages of Running Grief


Let me go back. I ran my first 15K two weeks ago. I went back-and-forth in my mind about my readiness for this run. Am I ready? Have I trained enough? I was ready for it… or I thought I was ready for it. My training plan called for 14K – it’d be the farthest I had ever run – ever. I dragged my friend Ashley along for moral support. I figured it would be good practice for the half that we have coming up in a few weeks since we have never run together before. I also thought if I fell on the ground dying, someone would be able to identify my body because there’s no way I would run 14K unscathed. 


I hadn’t really created a plan of attack for this run. That was a mistake. Sometimes I run my first 5K and then run-walk the rest and sometimes I run-walk the entire way. Why the hell didn’t I plan for this one? 

We got lost during the race. It was a small, local race, so we weren’t surrounded by tons of other runners. The faster people took off right out of the gate and I hadn’t seen them since kilometre one. There weren’t very good markers at the beginning of the race, so we went through a tunnel and came out, finding ourselves unsure of where to go. This really pissed me off… and I was embarrassed. Here I am, with my friend – the “expert runner” – and we’re lost and I’m being slow and, and, and…

My body started crying. Sometime around kilometre 10 (really kilometre 12 for us because WE GOT LOST), my body started saying, “What the hell are you doing?” and I was all, “Running a race! What the hell are you doing?” I started running less and walking more… and the shame started sinking in. And really what was I ashamed of? 


Just like that I was over it and we hadn’t even finished yet. I kept saying things like, “God, just get me through this race,” in my mind. Who did I think I was anyway? Getting up and running long distances? I needed to just stick to shorter distances – 5K, 10K – things that I knew I could do. I had pretty much convinced myself that once I finished the half that I would never sign up for anything like that again. Nope. Not me. “Just get me through this God, and I’m done with this. Half Marathon. Ha! Stupid girl.” 


I finished. Yay!? I was embarrassed and sad. I didn’t feel triumphant like I thought I would have felt when I was finished. Ashley kept telling me that she didn’t mind walking and it was fine, but I had already convinced myself that I was holding her back from being her normal fast self. 

Everything hurt the next two days and by the time I was ready for my next run I couldn’t do it. I think I did 3K. My motivation had left the building. I just wanted to lay around, eat all of the food and do nothing. Plus, it was my holidays – isn’t that what holidays are for? I did mediocre numbers last week. I thought about not doing the half at all, but then I thought about  how hard I have been working to get fit, to get healthy, and to be the mum/wife/person that I want to be. 


I can’t quit now. I had a talk with the run coach in my run group, and the thing that stood out the most to me from our conversation was when she said “focus on the Ks.” She told me not to worry about how much I walk, but to focus on covering the distance. “Visualise that finish line, crossing it and thinking about how you’ll feel.” 

I’m running a half – or run-walking a half. Whatever it is. I’m doing it. I’ve accepted that. How I’ll feel? Is victorious at the end. I am my own worst critic (that’s a conversation for another post), but I can’t let that negative self-talk get me out of doing it.

I can do it. I will do it. How I’ll feel at the end? Is victorious.

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