Run Carrie, run!
Confession time. I love to run, but…
I don’t run every day. I don’t read Runner’s World magazine like it’s the bible & a few years ago I finally branched out into exercise other than running.
(Crossfit, I know. Not an expected move for a true die-hard runner.)
Running is in my blood, but not in the usual way…
I loved to run.
I used to run for my grandfather to show him how fast I was.
I used my apparent speed to outrun my older sister on a regular basis.
(She wasn’t fast either. It caught up with me one day trying to run away from her with a rope, turning around to mock her, and then turning back just in time to smack my face against a tree, crumpling to the ground. Thank God I wasn’t fast.)
I was in heaven when I ran.
I proudly joined the Cross Country team in 7th grade. I was almost dead last (with a smile on my face) every single race. My parents came to every event, cheered me on like I was winning, & probably secretly hoped I’d spare myself the embarrassment, giving them their Saturday mornings back.
I found my inner cheetah.
To this day I can’t tell you what happened. We were on our home course (at that age it was 1.5 miles). I just ran. Across the field, through the wooded trail I knew like the back of my hand, back out into the open, & flew into 2nd place. No one was as surprised as my parents or my coach.
Running was my jam.
4 years of cross-country & track in high school. I wasn’t with the top girls, but I definitely had some solid performances. I didn’t run on my own when I wasn’t in training, but I’d kick it into gear, catching up with the rest of the team who had been training all summer break. By October we were even again.
I didn’t HAVE to.
PT School in Philadelphia; I stopped in the fall of my freshman year. No one was there to MAKE ME train. I enjoyed that. And I enjoyed the cafeteria a little too much.
(I’ve openly shared my mom curtailing desserts & me spending a few extra hours on the nordic ski trails over winter break at home. I noticed.)
When I came back in the spring, I found running again, for me. I ran the streets of Philadelphia almost every day after class. It wasn’t the wooded trails of home, but I felt fast again. It felt good.
(Spoiler alert, I ran to up the Art Museum steps 3-4x/week and never once trailed by a gathering group of Philadelphia kids. Rocky, I was not.)
Moves, relationships and breakups; running has been there. I’ve had times I took breaks, even wondering if I would be able to return after hip surgery 13 years ago. Running after kids was another challenge, not bad after my 1st, hopelessly trying to find 40 minutes once a week after our 2nd, while battling a core that desperately needed strengthening & a pelvic floor that had seen better days.
We’re still friends. We’ve had our ups & downs, but I keep coming back. Some of my favorite memories: running with my dad, finishing the Marine Corps Marathon (my boyfriend-now husband- cheering me on the entire way), & fun runs with my kids wouldn’t have happened had I given it up.
It can hurt. Bad.
We’ve had our moments. I know what it feels like to start a run feeling great & partway in, wonder if I was going to be able to finish. I know what it feels like to calculate where the next bathroom is & a backup plan if it’s locked. I know what it feels like to make the excruciating decision to walk home so I don’t leak more or have my hip hurt any worse. I’ve had to call for help to get a ride home, when I realized I couldn’t run in pregnancy anymore because of severe pubic bone pain. My dream of being that perfect runner-mom who blissfully ran through her pregnancy to her due date was shattered in an instant. There was nothing I could do about it.
I keep coming back.
It’s not perfect, but running remains in my life. I plan it to be that way, no matter what’s thrown at me next. Others might have given up by now, saying it’s not worth it for 1 or 2 runs a week. If running is in your blood, you know that couldn’t be further from the truth. Emptiness & frustration are no substitutes when compared to the lightness of being outdoors, YOUR song is playing & in my head you’re fast & free.
It will ALWAYS be worth it.
In a gorgeous twist of fate, I am privileged to work with other women who feel the same way. They may or may not be elite, maybe a marathon, maybe a 400m in a workout, but they WANT to run. I won’t say no, because I know that feeling. I know it’s possible to keep coming back. “Yes, and…” is always the answer. We plot the journey, we set the foundation & we find the way back. It may not be perfect, but we get back.
Love to run & you’ve been told no? Reply to this email & we can unpack that. Let’s find YOUR way back!
P.S. New mom or have a new mom runner friend ready to return to running? Check out the FREE Postpartum Return to Run Checklist Share with your friends! Even includes updated recommendations for nursing friendly sports bras!
P.P.S. Check out my feature this week in The Cut, a segment of New York Magazine, talking pelvic floor health & even WAP. My mom would be so proud (or confused!)