**Getting a little more serious for today’s Thinking out Loud post. No random rambles from me today!**
I’ve been running injury-free again for about 4 months now after being out for about 4 months. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than telling a runner they can’t run. Not that anyone specifically told me not to, but I’ve learned my lesson after dealing with the same injury 3 times.
As painful as it was (physically and emotionally), I needed it to happen again. I learned a lot about myself in that time and really healed my relationship with exercise.
I’ve worked hard at overcoming the effects of an eating disorder. First I had to face the food issues, and I did after 4 years of struggling. But eventually I also had to realize that I was addicted to exercise. And not in a healthy way. Repairing that relationship wasn’t my main priority at first- I knew I was eating enough to fuel my activity levels and that was enough. I didn’t see anything wrong with running 7 every day because being an athlete is all I’ve ever known. I started swimming competitively at 6 years old and eventually progressed to swimming 7 days a week for several hours a day. When I quit swimming and joined track, my coach advocated running 6 days a week (sometimes I was on a 13 day cycle) and cross-training the last day.
After I dealt with my calf issues for the 3rd time, I started looking back on when I was most successful. When I was running a sub-20 minute 5k (pre-blogging), I was “only” running 35 miles a week spread over 5 days, not the 50-60 miles over 7 days I got used to. When I was running healthiest and happiest post-collegiate running last fall, I was running 9 miles, 4 times a week, or 36 miles. I grew to really love this distance and I always looked forward to my runs because I was only doing them 4 times a week.
I’d love to workout 7 days a week, but my body doesn’t. I get injured the second I add too many days or up my intensity, and I’m learning to respect that. It means that when I’m tempted to run 5 days a week and go for a long bike ride a 6th day as the weather gets nicer, I have to restrain myself. I can handle 4 days of running and 1 day of biking (or yoga or spinning or something else entirely). But I can’t handle much more than that. My body rebels every single time. It’s crazy that it took me 5 years to figure it out, but that’s what happens when you’re controlled by an eating disorder.
Stepping away from the blog world for a few months also made a huge difference for me. As much as I enjoy blogging, I let it become something I “had” to do every day. For awhile, I let my blog world become my reality. I thought it was normal to exercise 7 days a week, running upwards of 60 miles because that’s what I saw other bloggers doing. I thought that if it worked for them, it would work for me too. I should have known better, especially working at a running store where we’re all about finding the right shoe for the individual. Like not every shoe works for every person, not every exercise regimen works for every person either
For me, I function best exercising for a little bit longer less days of the week. I’m still relatively active on my rest days, but I also really make the most of my couch time. I still walk to work and cover about 3-4 miles on foot, but I do that every day. If I don’t bike on the weekend, it’s a full rest day- no long walks, just letting my body recover some more.
I still get to enjoy my November Project workouts- but instead of counting them as “rest days” as I did in the past, I count them as my toughest day of the week by running to the workout. I also no longer push myself to the limits while I’m there because I’d rather enjoy my time with friends than kill myself trying to fit in as many reps as possible in 40 minutes. Because where’s the fun in that? The whole point of this workout group is that you do it in a social setting.
I’m still an active person. I have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time and I’d rather be out and about on the weekend than laying on the couch. I walk home at lunch to stretch my legs. I enjoy going to workout classes and fitness events because it’s something I’m passionate about. But it doesn’t rule my life anymore. I run 4 days a week which gives me flexibility to choose which days I wake up and run and it keeps me from feeling like it’s something I need to check off my “to-do” list. I never force my runs anymore. I’ll repeat this one because it’s important. I never force my runs anymore. Ever. If I’m not feeling it, I don’t go.
Exercise addiction is real. I don’t know if my body suddenly became injury-prone after putting so much stress on it for so long, but I do know that I’m extremely injury prone now. It’s unfortunate that I had to deal with so many issues before I let it all sink in, but it’s also an important lesson I needed to learn. It took me 4 years to finally feel “recovered” from an eating disorder (I don’t believe in 100% recovered because it’s something that could always come back at any time, but it no longer controls my life in any way), and it took me even longer than that to repair my relationship with exercise. But now that I have, it’s infinitely more enjoyable.
There is more to life than exercise.
No questions, just comments.