Why do you run?
Is it for fitness? Stress relief? Community? Because you need to get cardio somehow, and running fits the bill?
If you've been running for any amount of time, I know you can answer that question, and I know it's a large part of what defines you as a runner. It's not about the gear, the calorie burn, the free tshirts or finisher medals. Committing to the life of a runner, truly dedicating your waking hours to covering any amount of miles on foot - most often alone, no matter the weather or wrenches life throws in your schedule - requires passion, grit, and a strong understanding of motivation - knowing your "why".
I completed my first ultramarathon just 6 short months ago, and since then I've completed 2 more, never feeling the need to take a serious break for any amount of time. The training mindset has consumed and driven me to run 6 days/week, and crossfit at least 3 of those.
I'd been thriving on this schedule, so when I recently found myself out of alignment (literally) and on the verge of shin splints, I was out of sorts. Why, after all this time, was my training schedule suddenly working against me? Why was I feeling tight and sore, making every running step a laborious burden?
It would be easy to throw in the towel. Chalk these changes up to an aging body or unrealistic expectations. And if my running "why" had to do with exterior motives like weight management or fitness, I probably would throw in the towel. Just as easy to burn calories on a bike, or in a pool, without all that impact on the joints. We runners hear this all the time, right?
But my "why" runs deeper than that - I run for the energy, mental space, meditation and the time in nature it gives me. I run because it provides perspective, patience, and a kickass community - I run because it makes me a better person.
As humans, we are in a constant state of change - physically, mentally, emotionally. It only makes sense that what works for a person one day may not work in exactly the same way 6 days (or 6 months) later.
One of the great beauties of life is that in change we often find growth, a path to the next thing, to the next best version of ourselves. So, I will listen to, respect, and care for my body in this time of change and reflection. I will not push it harder in stubborn frustration, nor will I give up and walk away. Because I don't want to, and because I remember and honor my "why".