Why I Decided to Quit Running Races

Sometimes you just run out of reasons to keep going. And that’s okay.

There comes a time in life when one must face facts. I’m not a size 10 anymore. I’m no longer 25. Two glasses of wine, and I’m guaranteed a hangover. This is just how it is; denying the truth just wastes time. Better to be honest with yourself – which is, if we’re being honest, probably the hardest person to be honest with.

After my 5K race earlier this year, I came home, bragged about my (modest) achievement, walked on sunshine for a few days, and wrote the previous column all about my experience. I felt great. I felt accomplished. Then my editor asked: would I be interested in a 10K come October?

I pondered this. I imagined running twice the length I’d just raced. I imagined all the training that required. And then it hit me: No, I kind of would not be interested in a 10K come October. I kind of would not at all.

I now believe there are two kinds of runners: people who wish to push themselves ever harder, and people who want to just go outside occasionally and blow off steam for a few kilometres and not worry too much about it. They might do this twice a week, or twice a month.

Guess which one I’m turning out to be?

I have run sporadically since the 5K. And I only know I ran because my phone records everything I do, like an exasperated parent who just wants me to live up to my potential. And why should I fret about my potential? I just want to do what I can to keep my middle whittled, and not feel so stressed out, and be outdoors exploring my city. This, to me, is enough. I envy and admire runners who strive for higher heights and reach them. But that approach isn’t for me. Which makes it hard to continue writing this column.

This is, I’m afraid, the end.

When I made this decision, I reasoned with myself that I’m newly engaged, and planning a wedding. I also have a day job, which is often very taxing, and novels to write. We’re buying a house, and going on holiday. I just don’t have room in my life for a 10K, or a half-marathon, or anything else that demands additional energy or sacrifice.

Which was about when I started to notice that I was tired all the time, and that if I didn’t eat every few hours I felt like my insides were disintegrating, and that I was thinking about apple fritters and taco salads with a voraciousness that felt downright unwholesome. Also my breasts felt like someone was using them as punching bags. Also I was crying all the time – once because my fiancé made me toast; another time because we were out of whipped cream.

You know where this is going. When I finally deigned to take a pregnancy test – it was positive, I’m ecstatic and terrified to report – I knew my days as a goal-driven runner were indeed over. Sometimes, you just have to face facts: my life is getting bigger and stranger and more wonderful by the day, and there’s only so much room left in it for running. I can’t commit to anything strenuous or challenging – not right now, anyway. But I can amble around the park like a goon, stopping for waffles (and churros, oh God, I could destroy a churro right now), and I can look back fondly on that bright, lovely moment when I did care about running toward lofty goals, when I pushed myself to my limits. That is not nothing. In fact, I suspect I’ll be doing a lot more of that soon. And what a gift it is to know I can do so. Thank you, running, for showing me that.


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