Dear Running: It’s Not You, It’s Me.

Dear Running,

It's not you, it's me.

You: Accessible. Welcoming. Reliable. Available at every hour, on every surface, tempting me with ribbons of pavement hills, trails through dense forests, paths that always lead me to wonder, where does that go?

And it's not like you're high maintenance. You require so little to get started: shoes, a sports bra, an alarm clock, and a smidgeon of cardiovascular endurance and motivation.

Then, like a warm—but definitely not sweaty or buttery—hand in a dark theater, you slide in and just wrap yourself into my life, no questions asked. You envelop me, and, in return, I sigh deeply.

Why wouldn't I? You lift my mood. You infuse me with confidence, strength, patience. You allow me to justify spendy shoes every four months or so. You tone my butt. You accept my girlfriends, never complain that I spend too much time with them. You give me a legitimate reason to live in my capris. And you pretty much saved my life.

But you're not as simple as you seem.

You pretend you're all hey, just get out your front door and let me love you...but you and I both know it's much, much more complicated than that.

You lure me with visions of gazelle-like splits that feel effortless (never happens) and post-run glows where the perfect selfie just materializes (ditto). The reality is so far from it.

Yes, you give me miles and experiences and friendships I'd never have otherwise—and yes, I'm grateful—but this relationship is definitely a two-way (pedestrian-friendly) street.

I self-inflict serious pain (see: foam rolling) so I can hang with you. I spend gobs of money on said shoes and dry needling and race entries so we can be a couple. I give up other things—normal things that normal people do, like staying in one's pajamas on a Saturday morning with the paper and a latte—so I can join you. And that's just a few of my physical sacrifices.

The emotions? Don't get me started. I get jealous of your other girlfriends trotting along, making running look easy. And lord knows, you're on my mind way more than you should be: when can I run, where should I run, how long should I run, what should I wear on the run, what will the temps be on my run...repeat, repeat, repeat.

Worse, you become too invested (or should we call it passion?), and you smother me. Most of the time, you head right for my feet and leave your version of a hickey: a stress fracture or some other mark that makes me limp around and shows the world you've had your way with me.

That happens, and I have to spend weeks, months away from you. Cheating on you in the pool, on the bike, or—yes, I said it—on the ellipitical. Remembering why I love you, reminding myself why I want to rekindle our fire.

For the past three months, you've zinged me with some nervey glute thing that you can't even clearly define."I don't want to talk about it," you say, not explaining why you started it or how it will end. Instead, you just poke and poke, just to remind me you're still hanging around.

Knowing you're just as prone to moodiness as I am, I keep doing clamshells and glute bridges. But know that I do them silently cursing your name, wondering if I should finally just call it. Cut the cord, break up, splitville, the big D. Twenty-something years is long enough.

Then we hang out again. Just fifteen fleeting minutes yesterday. Our first contact in weeks.

A cloudy, cool afternoon on a suburban route spotted with minivans.

My nerve thing was talking, but you were louder. And're.sooooo.good.

I put my feet in motion, and you know exactly what to say.

You were whispering sweet-nothings, filling me with visions of half-marathon PR's and trail outings; mornings with sunrises that feel like they were created just for me; elation-laced moods that come only after long heart-rate miles; runs so spectacular, I'll be reviewing them on my GPS for days and weeks to come.

A little over a mile, and I'm completely smitten. Again.

So maybe, running, maybe it is you. But that's ok. You know I'm not one to beat around the bush, so I'll be honest: For the rest of my life, I'll want you.

Healthy? Maybe not. But love isn't always healthy, is it?

Happy Valentine's Day, Running. No matter if we get to spend 15 minutes or 15 miles together, you'll always

38 responses to “Dear Running: It’s Not You, It’s Me.

  1. I can relate to all your truisms about running! Especially the injuries and time away thinking should I hang up the shoes? (I am a running mom/nana of 62 and been at it for years) But then I hit the road again, tentatively, hoping my aches won’t hold me back. My times have slowed over the years and I race less often, but running still rewards my life in so many ways. My kids say I will be the white haired lady running in my 80’s. I hope that vision materializes in my life. I am thankful for each day I can run!

  2. Oh Dimity. Now I know why folks are talking about this essay. So much yes. I am just (hopefully) wrapping up a round of plantar fasciitis and yes, I am so eager to get back into the relationship with the one who caused my injury.

  3. So true, so true. I loved “emotions.” I’m slowing down and not able to keep up with some that I’d like to! Excellent expression for so many of us.

  4. True story. Sad, but true. The love/hate thing goes round and round. And WHY, OH WHY, does the motivation to run strike so deeply when I’m injured, but when I’m finally able to do something, said motivation goes and hides under a rock. What’s up with that?!

  5. It’s like you were taking all my messy thoughts about running, straightening them out and making them sound pretty, eloquent and witty, and putting them on the page. Love everything you write.

  6. Bwahaha! I wrote a love letter to running today too. Thankfully we are in a good stable relationship at the moment, but it only takes one run to make running the bad boyfriend you just can’t quit.

  7. OMG Dimity you wrote this straight out of my head! I have a weird glute thing going on too, and all I can think about is missed speed work and lost endurance and oh so many clamshells and bridges and leg presses! Thanks for making me feel so not alone!

  8. WOW! Dimity – – you are such a great writer! Proven with this witty, charming yet so true description of my love affair with running. What a perfect message on Valentine’s Day! Thank you for making me smile and laugh out loud this morning! I love the running community and especially AMR!

  9. Love this! And love you, Dim! So witty, I loved it all. Favorite line? “Shows the world you’ve had your way with me.” Bahaha! Happy Valentine’s!

  10. Dimity, This is so beautifully written. What a wonderful Valentine’s Day post! Wishing you a day, week, year, lifetime full of love and happiness (and many many miles)

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