Lance Armstrong once said: "Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever."
As for myself, I'm done with running for now. It's been decided. And putting it down here makes it somewhat official.
I've been running pretty regularly for the last three years. I've completed over 30 5k's, 10 5-milers, 1 10-miler and 1 half-marathon. I ran before the kids woke up or after they went to bed. I ran during their nap time or on the rare occasions when they had school and I didn't. Over the last few years, I've devoted the majority of my free time to running.
So what came of all this? First and foremost, pride. I am proud of myself. Considering that I couldn't run the fitness mile in high school, I've come a long way. I found both mental and physical toughness-- dedication, strength and endurance that I didn't know I had. I have bib numbers and medals. I have photos and t-shirts. I have the memory of my kids clapping and cheering me on near the finish line. I developed a skill, called myself a "runner" and got punch-drunk on the ooh's and ahh's I'd get from friends and acquaintances. As time has progressed, one thing has remained constant-- the amazing and indescribable feeling of crossing the finish line.
But there was also a lot of sacrifice. I haven't read many books or played much music or cooked many new recipes. I fished clean clothes out of the dryer on the morning I needed them and I was up past midnight finishing up my lesson plans. I was sore and blistered and often exhausted. The exhaustion often lead to binge eating in an effort to make it through the day on far too little sleep. Unfortunately, the binge eating pretty much negated the calorie burn from the runs. And as time has progressed, what hasn't remained constant is my ability to push myself-- to lace up my shoes and get out there. I just don't have the desire or drive to do it anymore.
So, I'm hanging up the running shoes for a while. It's pretty good timing as they're in desperate need of replacement.
I've been setting my alarm 45-minutes early each morning and doing an at-home DVD workout. These workouts not only involve cardio, but also strength training-- something missing from all of my running. When the kids get up early, they curl up on the couch to observe and give their critique-- Liam yelling, "FASTER!" or "HIGHER!" and Will adding, "Astronauts do way harder stuff than this!" The workouts themselves are about a half-hour-- far less time than I was devoting to my regular runs-- and I'm home with the kids. I'm finding my energy level is better, my appetite is more manageable and I'm finding time to pursue some reading and writing and relaxing. (We'll see how this works out in September when I throw in a full-time work schedule.)
I'll go back to running eventually and it will be easier than when I started three years ago. Because I'll know what to expect, how to do it and most importantly, that I CAN do it.
On paper, it seems like a good move. A smart decision. A better fit.
But somehow, it still feels like quitting.