I started running over eight years ago. Though an individual sport, it has always been a group activity for me all these years. Running mates, run clubs, races. Running, for me, has always been decidedly social (perhaps because I am decidedly social).
For the first time in all my running, I really only run alone, except for a few anomalies sprinkled here and there. Run club conflicts with my dance class, which I prioritize, and wanes in the dark winter evenings. My running mates continue to run and train for half marathons while I instead work short distances on speed work. And races only happen in the fall and winter, so that season has passed for now.
I have almost always run alone for some of my training, alternating them with social runs. I have done races by myself. I just have never only run alone. I appreciate the balance between being able to focus and dissolve into an audiobook and run only at my pace versus being distracted and encouraged while sharing with other people.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. Life changes. Schedules shift. Things get in the way. I am complacent with these sorts of natural shifts and evolutions. And my relationship with running overall has changed since my hip injury and then again since my hip surgery and recovery. I don’t know if I feel any sort of way about it. I always enjoyed social running, but I am not angry or sad that those situations aren’t currently available. I don’t think they are gone forever, and I don’t think the lack right now prevents me from running.
I wonder if my running circumstances have changed because I have fallen out of love with running or if I have fallen out of love with running because my running circumstances have changed. Perhaps a little bit of both. Either way, it does not really matter.
It is definitely less motivating to run alone. I no longer have the accountability of meeting someone at a place and time, of keeping pace with another body or more, It’s just me, relying on me to get out there and to push myself.
I just wonder if running is my thing at all anymore, if I even love it as I once did. I fought so hard to get back to it after injury and surgery. Now that it has finally been the year and I am finally as recovered as I will probably ever be, I find that it’s not the same to me anymore. Maybe I was fighting for the idea, rather than the reality. The current reality is starkly disappointing.
Switching to running alone could have changed the dynamic. Moving toward working on speed (which I hate) could also have soured the experience. The fact that I have made zero progress in all directions for months is definitely not helping. Run as I might, alone or together, fast or wogging, I only seem to get slower; it only seems to be more of a struggle. And that may be what poisons my affections and infects my high.
If it’s not running anymore, then it just is what it is. Like a dead relationship, I don’t know that I can necessarily reconjure the magic. I can’t force myself back into love. I don’t want it to be the end, and I have no intention of giving up already, yet the thought is starting to blossom at the periphery of my mind, back in the darkness where the answers usually come from.
But if not running, what? I operate on a very simple but delicate balance. Two days or more without a heavy dose of endorphins and the house of cards comes tumbling down. Running has always been the highest and most reliable dose of those endorphins. Better than barre, dance, hiking, or any of the other fitness I do. So, what moves in to fill the void? What slides onto the scale to keep the balance?
I don’t really have any interest in seeking out new passions. I would rather find a way back to my old contentment. Maybe I need to abandon the speed work that has done literally nothing for my pace. It has only stunted my distance.
Right now, I am just coasting. Doing what I have done because it’s what I have done and because I don’t know what to do next.