can't run anymoreI—Dimity—took my last run in January of 2020, but an orthopedist I trusted told me, in the fall of 2017, that I should consider not running anymore. My running career had be marked by injuries more than PRs. My lower back was a mess, and the high-impact sport was not going to do me any favors as I aged.

I believed him, and I also wasn’t ready to give running up. Running wasn’t just my physical outlet. As I shared in this post in September 2017, running had been my partner, consistently my side for over twenty years. She was always ready to rally. She was my confidante and my antidepressant, my kick in the butt and my place to relax, my connector to a higher power and my path to peer inwards. She was my cool side of the pillow and my reality check when I needed one.

I took more and more things out of my running routine—races, runs over 5 miles, hills, intervals—to hold onto the sport I loved. I shed buckets tears, became angry and frustrated and depressed. Ask my family: I was not easy to be around.

With time, therapy, an internal reconciliation, and the unwavering support of the AMR community, I was able to somehow know that my final run in January of 2020—less than 3 miles, just a flat out and back—could truly be my last run. I wasn’t at total peace, but my internal scale had tipped from clinging to releasing.

I had crossed my final finish line.

While I wouldn’t wish the final finish line on any runner, the reality is that bodies break down over time and miles. And it’s really hard to reconcile the fact that this healthy thing that you love to do—and brings you confidence, peace, power, friendships, medals—is actually not serving you anymore.

If this has happened to you, first of all, it totally sucks and we’re really sorry.

Second of all, we’re here for you in this next chapter of your life. You’ve got so many miles to go, and even though they may not include the numbers 13.1 or 26.2, they’re still important, powerful, and athletic. Just like you.

The Final Finish Line

[a series of Many Happy Miles podcasts]

EPISODE #1: “Time to listen to my body.”

Dimity talks to Stacy Bruce, who, “came out of the womb as an athlete,” and ran her first marathon in 1997.  Her 27+ year running career in running has taken her across the finish line in Boston multiple times, up and down Pikes Peak 10 times, and along the way, has defined her social life and self-identity. Her (complicated) lower back has finally waved the white flag, and she is in the process, at age 51, of retiring from running.

EPISODE #2: Orthopedic Surgeon + Patient

Dimity talks to runner Gretchen Gibson, who had a knee and hip replacement within six months of each other, and Dr. Dan Myer, her orthopedic surgeon, who also remodeled his running career after serious injury. Gretchen is hoping she can still find a few more miles of running (with her dog Miles), while Dan offers compassion and advice for all struggling runners.

EPISODE #3: Easing the Mental Side

Dimity gets advice for a healthy transition from Kim Dawson, PhD, a professor of sports/exercise psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.Among other things, the two chat about how to cultivate a holistic self-identity, so you’re not too reliant on one aspect (like running); why the rate of change isn’t never as quick as you’d like it to be; and how Kim is expanding her athletic world far outside of running.

Final Finish Line
EPISODE #4: “I release my body.”

Dimity talks to Britt Parker, an ultra trail runner, about releasing her body from the pain of running, and, as she did so, finding peace and quiet internally and confidence athletically. The two talk about Britt’s success at the 50-mile distance and her subsequent goals—and falls; processing the anger, frustration, and shame when you are in chronic pain; and how Britt returned to the Trans-Rockies in 2023 after sitting it out in 2022.

The Not-Running-Anymore Support Group

[a series of columns for Women’s Running]

Are you not running anymore?